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Looking forward ...

Betsan Powys | 20:50 UK time, Sunday, 25 October 2009

lunn_470x300.jpgIt's half term and I'm taking a week off - swapping Labour leadership-mania (should such a thing exist) for Aquamania, swapping manifestos for, I hope, a few mojitos.

I'll leave you with some predictions and a promise that the blog won't be dormant:

Tuesday's poll result will be seized upon and analysed in great detail by anyone and everyone who cares whether we have - or do not have - a referendum on or before 2011. Bear in mind that it's not only those who want more powers devolved who want that referendum held sooner rather than later. There are plenty who want it held soon in the hope that it is lost soon - a combination that may, one day, prove significant.

If the poll suggests anything other than the current "winnable" but not in the bag scenario, then someone pick up the phone. I'll need a mojito or two at that point. I suspect it'll remain at no more than "winnable" but that the trend will show an ever increasing number of people saying they are in favour of pressing ahead with devolving full legislative powers to the Assembly.

Peter Hain's speech on Thursday will be seized upon and analysed in great detail by anyone and everyone who cares whether we have - or do not have - a referendum on or before 2011.

The Secretary of State will have heard the same rumours as everyone else - that Sir Emyr Jones Parry's report, due to be published on November 18th - will surprise quite a few with the scope of the comment and the decisive nature of that comment. If that's right, then the pressure will be on the Labour Plaid government to deliver on its pledge of a referendum as spelled out in the coalition's One Wales Agreement.

Mr Hain can see it coming and on Thursday night he'll try to head it off.


Because he thinks a referendum could or even would be lost; because as its architect, he thinks the current system of devolving power via Orders, LCOs, is working well; because as its architect he just cannot accept that its days are and should be numbered; because despite his protestations that he's an ardent devolutionist, he doesn't actually want more power delivered to the Assembly; because he thinks Plaid would gain more than Labour from it; because he made promises to colleagues that they needn't worry about the One Wales Agreement back in 2007 because there just would not be a referendum.

I've heard all of those theories suggested or implied over the past few months. You'll have our own views but you can bet that on Thursday Mr Hain will start to apply the brakes.

Not that long after Sir Emyr delivers his report, David Cameron will come to Wales on a visit. Nothing unusual about that - he 'does' Wales quite regularly. This time, when asked about a referendum and whether, if he's in Number 10, he'd allow a Conservative Welsh Secretary to throw a spanner in the works and prevent it, he won't say that he wants to see devolution working or give a non-commital reply. He'll say 'no'. He'll make it clear that if two thirds of Assembly Members vote for a referendum, his government will go with it.

There'll be no great song and dance, no press conference in a posh hotel, no noses rubbed in it but we'll know why some senior Welsh Conservatives have been looking a lot more contended recently. The bear trap they had feared their party would walk straight into - big, bad Tories stopping the Welsh from having their say - has been spotted and will be avoided.

And with that I'm off to pack. Over the coming week my colleague Adrian Masters, who usually directs the gaze of the Dragon's Eye, will be taking over and keeping the blog warm. He'll do it with style. Pob lwc.


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  • 1. At 10:16pm on 25 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Enjoy your time off Betsan....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 2. At 10:05am on 26 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Have a fun time off, we live in interesting times!

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  • 3. At 11:15am on 26 Oct 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Have a great holiday Betsan - well earned.

    We will look after Adrian - he may actually enjoy it!!

    This post is interesting;
    For me there are essentially two groups in Wales:
    1/ The Political anoraks, activists, and those who have a beef or interest.
    2/ Those who couldn't care less, not interested, just want to get on with their lives with as little aggro as possible.

    Group 1/ Vote in elections, respond (sometimes honestly) to opinion polls, see a little of what is going on.
    It is this group that the opinion polls are measuring.

    Group 2/ 80% or more don't vote in elections, don't respond to opinion polls, or if they do currently say yes to everything. (yes means the chance of a Referendum) - These in general are Totally P***d Off with politics and politicians, especially the lot down at the Bay.

    The Euro Elections turnout 30%, the last Assembly Elections 44%, the 2005 General Election 60% - we seem to have significantly more in Group 2/ than Group 1/ for Europe and the Assembly - but almost twice as much interest and support for Westminster.

    Now despite Emyr's hard sell, and the millions spent by the Assembly marketing campaign - down at the pub, or on the street not a big impact, in fact the reverse, Joe Public seems to have less regard for Devolution and the Internet Cafe down at the Bay.
    Devolution is seen as a massive waste of money, an interference with peoples lives.

    So now we have the election for a new FM - none of the Candidates appear likely to get this devolution experiment by the throat and make it work. In fact none of them have the public stature, vision, or proven competence to lead a Government.

    So I think your assesment of Hains stance is correct - he has smelt the wind, the stench of death.
    He knows that many are simply waiting for a Referendum, knows that despite all Emyr or anyone at the Assembly says it is likely to be lost, the people of Wales have watched the posturing and nonsense for long enough.

    Hain knows this time the loss may be so bad that a yes/no referendum will be forced.

    The political wind has changed - Labour are dead in the water, Cameron doesn't have to take a stance - he can afford a referendum.

    The people of the UK - we British - want a different sort of Government, one that works for the people, not one that tries to engineer some utopia, or stamp all over us.
    We have our Wales we like it, we don't want some bunch of idealists to try to change it to fit their idea of fairyland.
    If politicians want to help us fine - there are important things to be done.

    This is where the AWC went wrong - we were told, not asked.
    And if we asked or put forward views, ruled out of order.
    After all the great and the good know best, any other view is based on lies!!!

    So here we go - "the future";

    Small Government, individual freedom to choose, less legislation.

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  • 4. At 11:28am on 26 Oct 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    Whats a Mojitos?. Does'nt sound very Cymraeg to me and surely BBC CYMRU staff only holiday in Wales???.

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  • 5. At 11:40am on 26 Oct 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    Wishing Betsan a good holiday and hello to Adrian.

    Can we please debate the Labour leadership contest with regard to social justice issues?

    Given that Labour has sold out its anti devolution element and the Conservatives have gone native as they are far too comfortable in their jobs to want to scrap the assembly?

    Where do devo-realists go for support and who do we vote for as it seems we have been effectively disenfranchised, and how can anyone govern with such overwhelming apathy or abstention.

    With the obliteration of Labour at the next election, is True Wales going to turn itself into an alternative party in order to keep people within the political process.

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  • 6. At 11:44am on 26 Oct 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    "This is where the AWC went wrong - we were told, not asked.
    And if we asked or put forward views, ruled out of order."

    Did you put someting forward WW ? At the AWC event I attended there was plenty of anti more powers stuff put forward - both from the platform and the floor.

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  • 7. At 12:32pm on 26 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:

    #5 Neocromwellian

    .... is True Wales going to turn itself into an alternative party in order to keep people within the political process.

    If "True Wales" were to register "Llais Cymru" (Voice of Wales).....

    #6 Dewi_H wrote:

    Did you put someting forward WW ?

    I did, I would wager the Plaid and chums contributions swamped the aged diplomat, no democracy there, more a political demolition derby.

    Well said West-Wales

    Small Government, individual freedom to choose, less legislation.

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  • 8. At 12:55pm on 26 Oct 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    #3 I share many of your concerns.

    Keeping government out of our lives is something both the political left and right have always agreed upon, and we should continue to do so.

    Small government should not be confused with less regulation with key services and institutions, the bankers being a classic example. The problem is that we cannot trust the government to do it so the less they are involved the better.

    Regulation and accountability are different issues both need to be independent of political pressure with its inherent injustice associated with maintaining the status quo, grandstanding with regard to public hangings but at the same time preventing whistle blowers from rocking the boat.

    An example is the Charity Commission, which is independent of government and all charities, and any complaint is referred to a company independent of the Commission.

    Then take higher education, the so-called Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education was recently in the news because of a 50 percent rise in student complaints since 2005. The student union said its even worse than it looks, and there is concern that the Independent Adjudicator is far from Independent as it is four fifths owned by the universities. There is also growing discontent with the decisions it makes.

    Here in Wales the Federal University does not have any complaints procedures which is one way of ensuring unblemished record, and this is despite the fact that students have a right of complaint under the Higher Education Act 2004.

    There is a Memorandum of Understanding between the WAG and a Quango the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, to provide value for money in higher education. We all know that Quangos live in fear of closure if they fail to please their political masters. The public are banned from any complaint on how our money is spent.

    Value for Money should be an issue for the Welsh Audit Office, it should be open to public complaint as to how our money is spent and a process of public consultation should be put in place in keeping with other public spending bodies.

    Therefore, we would have less government, less of a fob off to the public, less state suppression of maladministration and waste of our money. We would have greater public involvement in the decisions that affect our lives, better value for money, more freedom to choose and less control freak legislation.


    Voice of Wales; now that is a very interesting proposition!

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  • 9. At 3:18pm on 26 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    The problem seen in my attendence was not anti more poewers, but when some asked "why do we need the Assembly?", he was told that was "outside of the remit of this meeting, and therefore cannot be discussed".

    That is where the AWC went wrong, in following the 'remit' set for it to follow. A deliberate ploy by the ruling group, to stifle any attempt to revert to pre devolution, via open debate.

    The very fact that the AWC was totally centered on 'more powers' was what a lot of people had been told was to be the basis of the meetings, and so they stayed away.

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  • 10. At 4:12pm on 26 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    The object of the All Wales Convention was to find if there was a desire to move from the LCO procedure to a legislative parliament or not. Its remit was narrow I agree, but it was not there to say which was better than the other. I saw no evidence that it did. Individual members of the panel did, and individual members of the panel opposed a move to stage 4. It also had a remit to explain what was on offer. Under the Government of Wales Act there were only two possibilities, the status quo or a move to primary legislative powers without LCO. If those that are opposed to devolution were unaware of this then they were not very well informed. Nothing stopping them campaigning against further legislative powers, nothing to stop them campaigning for abolition - though the two are different. No debate was stifled. AWC was not centred on more powers it was centred on a choice of the status quo or full legislative powers in a narrowly defined set of fields.

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  • 11. At 5:19pm on 26 Oct 2009, Notonationalism wrote:

    You have to admit, Lyn, that the remit of the All Wales Convention was so absurdly narrow as to be meaningless. It's also true that people were not allowed to offer comments at the meetings unless they were in favour of further powers. Those who were against were stopped short and told to get on with their questions.

    Why are our politicians afraid to open up this debate? The referendum will be nothing but a sham unless the people of Wales are given a choice on whether we want the Assembly to have primary law-making powers or not. To allow a vote merely on the matter of timing really is taking us all for a ride.

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  • 12. At 6:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    That wasn't my experience of the Convention. The choice is laid down by the Government of Wales Act, continue the LCO process or move to transfer of legislative powers within the defined fields. You want a referendum on the Government of Wales act, then one on transfer of powers - this is not on offer and never will be, all four major parties actually approve of the Government of Wales act 2006, even though they don't like some of the details, its you who is in a small minority over this. I think you will have to demonstrate that there is substantial support for returning to the old Assembly - or what you really want its abolition.

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  • 13. At 6:39pm on 26 Oct 2009, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:
    A REFERENDUM should be held on whether Wales should have a law-making Parliament, the All Wales Convention will report next month.
    The Western Mail, is spelling it out, a yes vote means a law making Parliament and all that implies. I'll let The Institute of Welsh Affairs explain what it really does imply, Llafur and Plaid have laid a nice little trap?

    The Working Group, comprising Keith Patchett, Emeritus Professor of Law with the University of Wales, and David Lambert and Marie Navarro of Cardiff Law School, also says that extending the Assembly’s legislative powers could have the far-reaching consequence that a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction will be needed:

    “It seems inevitable that the emergence of a separate body of law will give rise to demands for the separate treatment of Welsh legal matters from that for English legal matters. These would become stronger should the case for devolution of the criminal justice system, soon to be under consideration by the Assembly Government under the terms of the One Wales coalition agreement, be accepted. This implies the creation of a Welsh jurisdiction, entailing, at the minimum, a separate court system, judiciary, legal profession and statute book, alongside a distinct jurisdiction for England and parallel to those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

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  • 14. At 7:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    And what is so wrong with that, we already have a body of law separate to England, both secondary and primary. What is wrong in that? Its seems like you are stating the obvious and making it seem to be something out of the ordinary. Remember every one of the 50 states in the USA have separate legal jurisdictions, on the scale of things nothing special in Wales also forming a distinct legal jurisdiction... there is already provision for special court sessions to deal with Welsh affairs. And we had a separate system of courts - the courts of Great Session - at one time.

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  • 15. At 7:41pm on 26 Oct 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Jack #13

    There is no way the Welsh electorate will swallow that, or will they.
    you are right Llafur and Plaid have laid a nice little trap?

    Lets hope Betsan is correct:
    You'll have our own views but you can bet that on Thursday Mr Hain will start to apply the brakes.

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  • 16. At 7:57pm on 26 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Except the majority are not interested in an independent legal system; do people realise that having an independent legal system is probably the thick end of the separatist wedge, talk of the USA is blue smoke, Plaid and pals have no interest in a federalist Britain, it's not in their constitution, Independence is.

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  • 17. At 8:10pm on 26 Oct 2009, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    And yes of course, a whole new judiciary will mean another massive increase in fine middle class type careers for Rhodri Morgan types. This is one clever trick too far, another 6'' nail in Llafurs coffin!!

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  • 18. At 9:29pm on 26 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Why a whole new Judiciary, we already have a judiciary in Wales, just they would become more expert in Welsh Law and we would have some new titles for the presiding judge... but then everything is a gravy train in the eyes of some, like the gravy train that is Westminster for aspiring unionists.

    Of course Plaid want an independent Wales but that will only happen if the people of Wales want it. We already have three different legal structures and jurisdictions in the UK, will Wales having one be so exceptional? And why isn't the USA, Canada, Australia, the states of Austria, the federal states of Germany etc relevant? A Welsh legal jurisdiction is the logical outcome of Welsh laws, all it means is that you have a segment of the judiciary to deal with Welsh matters, nothing unsettling or strange in that.

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  • 19. At 10:49pm on 26 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    Message 18...

    I am already preparing tenders to erect the new border fence, and site the permitted crossing points, for the resident customs officers.

    My surveyors are locating the cross border roads that will be terminated at the border, and I await the Assembly decision to tell me which of the remaing crossing points will be posted and barrier-ed. Those deemed surplus will be blocked at the fence.

    I have listed with the Department of Employment a requisition for three hundred burly Welsh brain dead types to be border guards, who will be trained by the SAS, and fed on raw meat. Sheep farmers have been instructed to provide well fatted animals for the purpose, and I am negotiating with the Welsh police forces for training facilities to be facilitated to train our German Shepherds and Rottweilers to accompany the new army of border thugs, we don't want any of our people crossing into England, because as soon as the fence is erected, we need to keep all those nasty English out, and our invaluable Welsh people in. Smuggling will be dealt with on a shoot to kill policy, and the refusal to learn Cymraeg will be taken as treason, and the offenders given the option of ejection from Wales, or entry into a gulag where they will be taught on an intensive basis the language within a month or they too will be ejected across the border.
    That is a rough and ready resume of what the future holds once all the powers demanded by the nationalists have been granted,.

    Can't wait for it myself.

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  • 20. At 00:00am on 27 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 19

    When the anti-Welsh arguments reach this base level, you just know that the arguments for Wales have prevailed. What a nice warm feeling with which to go to bed!

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  • 21. At 07:19am on 27 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    So Plaid (which secretly runs the BBC the Labour Party, The Church in Wales, Polling organisations and not forgetting the whole public sector and voluntary organisations) is planning to exterminate the English speaking population of Wales or expel them and erect a Berlin Wall barrier... yes very considered, of course the come back will be that this is all in jest. So smear away - make out your opponents are nazis and all is well. Thank you Mapex

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  • 22. At 08:29am on 27 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    20 & 21...

    You may think it a jest, but whenever the division has occurred between other parts of well settled and established national regions, that is the sort of scenario that has ensued.

    Extreme as the outline was, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility. but it was submitted for one simple reason, to demonstrate the FACT that if the law making and other powers are allowed to be set in place, there will lie the potential for a severe dichotomy between English and Welsh systems. with the idea of a structured border very likely. sometime in the future.

    On the assumption that Wales became independent, and an application to engage with Europe treated favourably, which would then mean taking on the Euro as our currency, not that I am against that, what sort of currency control would suddenly have to be placed between two adjoining regions with centuries of having the same currency?

    Please do not insult my intellect by saying that has happened all over Europe, because it has not, those who joined together under the present currency regime, all had their own currencies, and fixed borders until they joined in. Whereas ours is a common currency with the rest of the UK, even Scotland and NI, as at the moment.

    Can you envisage our senior partner, England tolerating a 100 mile border being crossed (either way according to exchange rates extant per Diem) so that the mass of population, the bulk of which lies in close proximity to England, take advantage of lower prices whenever the rates fluctuate up or down.

    One week the English consumers crosses freely into Wales to spend spend spend, the next the Welsh do the same, .

    Not a very welcome idea on either side, politically or economically speaking. Look at the furore at the top end of Ireland when the Ulster population streamed over the border to buy when the Eirean rate was low, and then the reverse when now the pound is low.

    That may well be the result, mind you is would all be academic should the UK accept the Euro in the not too distant future, what price your need for a separate regime in Wales then?

    The total idea would become superfluous in an instant.

    So the quicker the UK adopts the Euro the better as I cannot see the nationalist fervour surviving the adoption.

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  • 23. At 08:52am on 27 Oct 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    20. A look at the future inextremis,however there is an element of truthful observations of where we are going with the "welshyfying" of wales as is required by King Rhodri and his real party,which is of course Plaid Cymru. keep at it Mapex55 as you are clearly upsetting the seperatists in wales who DO WISH to have us as a stand alone region with proper borders from our english neighbours. The trouble is virtually all the people I know who grew up in the anglo/welsh part of Mid-Glamorgan look at present position with wry humour,and degree of unhappiness that "seperatists" and "welsh language fanatics" are in power everywhere but do nothing about it. The "madrasas" of welsh education are going to do their job with inward looking mind washing,rather than educating children for participation in wider world as is going to be necessary if they wish to work in anything other than welsh public services,including media.The funny thing is that the real "welshies" as they see themselves,are basically totally reliant upon english people to pay taxes to fund the fantastic level of public employment in this unhappy land. If i was David Cameron I'd give and encourage the welsh to have referendum on independance and give them a "good bung" as we drift off into the sunshine,and then reality of living on our own would become a stark and unhappy reality.

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  • 24. At 08:58am on 27 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:


    There is no need to exterminate the English speaking population of Wales, or expel them and erect a Berlin Wall barrier .....

    ..... you can subjugate the majority of the people with legislative cudgels as you are currently attempting.

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  • 25. At 10:10am on 27 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 22, 23, 24

    The hysteria of recent messages suggests that the antis have run out of ideas and arguments. Good. Common sense and a sense of nationhood seems to be taking hold, and they clearly don't like it.

    You only have to look at how popular the Tories now seem to be in Wales as a result of them being pro-devolution!

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  • 26. At 10:40am on 27 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:

    #25 nuts springs to mind .....

    The popularity of the Conservatives rests with the forward looking social and economic policies, It is with relief the Plaid minority will be relegated to the 4th division of the far left.

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  • 27. At 10:28pm on 27 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    Any popularity the Tories are seen to be enjoying, is thanks to the over hyping by the 90% of the media turning against tbn present government.

    Which, in turn has led to all sorts of wishful thinking by the language and separationist nutters, that the Tories will simply turn over Wales to them and their co-conspirators in the secessionist plot.

    Dream on folks, the nightmare scenario cannot possibly take place, can you not see why the Nat nuts are scared out of their wits and fail to call an early referendum..
    They know only too well that myself and others are waiting with bated breath for the off signal so we can stand in public and expose their sham political ambitions and agenda for the future of a isolated WALES.

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  • 28. At 10:53pm on 27 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 27

    If Ieuan Wyn knew you were promising to do that, I'm sure he'd call the referendum tonight!

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  • 29. At 11:47pm on 27 Oct 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    So giving a minority rights = subjugation of a majority? Stonemason I see you have taken a leaf out of the nazi's book, if you tell a lie long enough and often enough it will be believed. Well sorry it will not wash. As the LCO is supported by the tories are you going to say that the tories are conspiring to suppress the rights of the majority also? Plus once again you fail to make the distinction between an LCO and any legislation. Scare tactics again, just substitute Welsh speakers with Jews and you have the classic Nazi scare.

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  • 30. At 1:54pm on 28 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 31. At 2:24pm on 28 Oct 2009, John Henry wrote:


    You wrote ... just substitute Welsh speakers with Jews and you have the classic Nazi scare.

    It is time to "lie" on the sofa like a good fellow, calm your nerves, trust in David to look after you, or maybe mapex could recommend a tonic to settle you.

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  • 32. At 7:56pm on 28 Oct 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    28. But IWJ and Plaid are only junior partners in the coalition they couldn't do anything without Rhodri's approval.

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  • 33. At 8:01pm on 28 Oct 2009, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    Re 25
    You only have to look at how popular the Tories now seem to be in Wales as a result of them being pro-devolution!

    That is far from true, a few Conservative AMs are pro-devolution with the three MPs wanting the total demise of the parasitic, money squandering social engineering department. David Cameron, said last week that there are differences of opinion on devolution, but now was not the time to discuss it as we have much greater problems to worry about. He went on to add that both sides are free to put their arguments.
    David Davies MP for Monmouthshire, has constantly condemned compulsory Welsh language lessons and creeping bilingualism, Conservatives in Monmouthshire, now have enormous majorities in council, assembly, Westminster and Euro elections, and they owe the English speaking Brits of Monmouthshire big time.
    Carefully read the words of Cheryl Gillan, can you see any little crumbs of comfort for Llafur and Plaid types? Ignore what Bourne says, most Conservatives do.

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  • 34. At 8:01pm on 28 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    How about six pints of tap water, drank in quick sucession.

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  • 35. At 8:03pm on 28 Oct 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    And I am more than sure he would definitley not.

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  • 36. At 01:24am on 29 Oct 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 32


    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!! I never cease to be amazed at the inconsistency of the antis. One minute they depict Welsh nationalists much in the same way as the Nazis saw the Jews, as manipulative and all-powerful, and now the gnat says they have no power or influence whatsoever!

    Whether it's inconsistency or a lack of intellectual rigour, I'll let others decide.

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  • 37. At 11:39am on 29 Oct 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Betsan - are you followingthis on holiday;

    Looks like you were right!!
    Peter Hain's speech on Thursday will be seized upon and analysed in great detail by anyone and everyone who cares whether we have - or do not have - a referendum on or before 2011.
    The Secretary of State will have heard ... that Sir Emyr's ... report, ... will surprise ... with the scope .. and .. decisive nature of that comment ... the pressure will be on the Labour Plaid government to deliver on its pledge of a referendum as spelled out in the coalition's One Wales Agreement.

    Mr Hain can see it coming and on Thursday night he'll try to head it off.

    Reports this morning say Hain is advising against - as the referendum is unwinnable!!!

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