Points and punchlines
Why couldn't there be a referendum in the Autumn of 2010 if the Assembly doesn't trigger one as early as January or February?
A fair question asked by the Good Evening Wales presenter. I gave what I imagine you'd call a 'broad-brush response'. But to those of you who want more detail, then read this legal advice circulated today by the Presiding Officer and written by a man who'd never dare hold a broad brush in his hand. He's more of a fan of pointillism I would have thought.
This is the crucial passage:
It is extremely difficult to see how the legal and administrative steps for a referendum under section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 to be held can be completed before the impending UK general election unless the Assembly were to resolve, virtually immediately, that a referendum should be held. If this were possible, a referendum could be held in the Autumn of 2010.
If the Assembly were not immediately to resolve that a referendum should be held (or other exceptional measures taken to compress the necessary steps into the period before a dissolution of Parliament) then, provided the process is triggered by a resolution early in 2010, it would be possible (but entirely dependent on a high priority being given to the necessary Order by the incoming SoS) for an Order to be made between the election of a new Parliament and the beginning of the summer recess. If so, this, again, could enable a referendum to be held in the Autumn of 2010.
If neither of the possibilities set out in paragraphs 15 and 16 are realised then the need to complete the necessary legal and administrative steps means that the earliest date on which a referendum could be held would be the Spring of 2011.
To leaven the bread here's my award for best joke of the day. It goes to Jonathan Morgan and went something like this:
I can exclusively announce that the winner of the Labour leadership contest is ... wait for it ... Peter Hain. Can I wish Carwyn, Edwina and Huw all the best if they become his deputy!
Comic pointillism perhaps.