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What did I miss?

Betsan Powys | 20:15 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009

A question from a member of a faith group on human rights and asylum seekers. Silence from the panel who look to Sir Emyr. He recognises a hospital pass when he sees one. He is, after all, a bit of an expert on the UN and the relations of any number of international institutions with it.

Foreign affairs, yes, they would be reserved. But the panel has had a moment to think. That doesn't mean, says Helen Mary Jones, that Ministers in Wales can't raise a voice about issues like asylum seekers. What about Ama Sumani, says the Archbishop, who was deported despite receiving life-prolonging treatment in a Cardiff hospital? Legal powers are one thing. Moral powers are another.

Lord Richard Livsey is short and sharp: what should or would trigger a referendum?

Richard Wyn Jones evokes his "several" dead grandfathers to explain why he's not a betting man. By several, we take it he means two. Forget 'should' then. What WILL trigger a referendum? David Cameron taking over at Number 10.

Tristan Garel-Jones isn't sure how to answer the question but IS sure that if there is to be a referendum, then the talented Welsh men and women who don't happen to live in Wales, maybe because "they've reached the top of the tree in London or in Paris," should be allowed to vote. No! shouts the audience. So what are we saying to young, ambitious Welsh people asks Mr Garel-Jones who make it to the top? Gee, ta, says the audience, jam packed full of people who are on their way to the top in Wales, if not there already.

What are we saying to Sir Emyr he adds? I don't know what his personal life is (perish the thought that the man should have one until the ink on his report is dry) but does he get a vote? What about the Welshman who happens to have become Archbishop of Canterbury?

The other Archbishop, the one who has at least reached the top of the tree in Wales, tries to answer the question posed, as does Sir Emyr. The referendum should be held when the politicians choose to hold it and they won't hold it until they're quite sure it is at the very least winnable. His job is to set out the arguments but the real job, he smiles, is working out which are the killing arguments.

Nick Ainger wants to see a referendum triggered but is entirely clear that it ain't going to happen. If Labour and Plaid pulling together barely scraped a yes vote last time round, there's no way it'll be won any time soon. If it's lost? Then what does that do to the crediblity of the Assembly, that ten, twelve, fifteen years down the line the people of Wales can't be persuaded to give it more powers?

It's over to the audience - still smarting and feeling dissed by Tristan Garel-Jones. "I'm going to set up a new organisation" says a woman who has jumped to her feet, "Madams (as least I think she said Madams ...) for Sticking to the Point and Answering the Questions! A large part of the audience loves it.

"I'm a proud Welshman" says the next to get the microphone, "that's why I want a referendum so we can say No for once and for all". The other, smaller part of the audience loves it.

Time to vote. If there were a referendum tomorrow, would you vote?

87% would. 13% would not.

And if you voted, would you vote to leave things as they are, or vote to give the National Assembly law making powers all at once?

64% want law making powers; 36% don't.

Is that nearly three quarters asks the compere, clearly thinking with some pleasure that these public events are all over.

Sir Emyr jumps in. Nearly two thirds I think you'll find ...

Time for refreshments and "a treat" - arias sung by a young Chinese opera student who is probably hoping to reach the top of the tree in her own country. Beats a curry.

It is now.


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