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The Cardiff Concordat

Betsan Powys | 16:10 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

_45605337_hain.jpgThe "Cardiff Concordat" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the "Broughton Declaration" perhaps but then Peter Hain would argue that the two statements have quite different implications.

Cardiff Concordat?

Broughton Declaration?

What's it all about?

Remember David Cameron visiting Broughton and that well-trailed response to a well sign-posted question about his take on a referendum? What he announced that day was that if Assembly Members requested a referendum on granting greater powers to the Assembly, he would say yes. He wouldn't veto it.

As "decisive" a declaration, said David Melding AM, as Sir Emyr Jones Parry's report, even if it preceded it. "Thankfully" he said, his relief palpable, "that "anti-Welsh" bear-pit has been artfully avoided".

Peter Hain's response at the time was distinctly cooler. "If Cameron's true intentions were indeed for the best interests of devolution in Wales" he suggested "he should have waited to consider the widely-anticipated recommendations of Emyr Jones Parry ... This is no more than a Cameron headline-grabbing stunt"

Mr Hain did wait for Sir Emyr to report, then came to Cardiff this afternoon to deliver the message that he, just like a Conservative Welsh Secretary, would not veto a request for a referendum, if one were made.

Except his announcement, contends Mr Hain, is not 'just like' Mr Cameron's at all. The Conservative leader might have said no to a veto but hasn't said yes to lobbying for referendum success for those who want more powers. Mr Hain wants a referendum so he can go out and campaign - once again - on the yes side. He just doesn't think that should or can happen any time soon.

"We must not be straight-jacketed by a pre-determined referendum timetable that could trigger the disaster of a NO vote. We must keep all options open, meanwhile patiently building the consensus across the parties and throughout civil society which we will need to deliver a clear YES vote."

So all options for the timing of the referendum remain open but this is about winning. It's not about a timetable.

His speech - which kicked off by putting Rhodri Morgan on a par with Owain Glyndwr, Aneurin Bevan and Lloyd George by the way - was, apparently, written days ago. It was finished days ago, ergo his message wasn't influenced in any way by yesterday's events in Cardiff Bay.

He has met the Labour group of AMs to talk those through and there was one 'by the way' worthy of note. Here it is: "And by the way, I see no inconsistency between Welsh Labour's statement yesterday and that of the First and Deputy First Ministers. Actually what he said in the chamber, before correcting himself, was that he saw 'no consistency' between the two statements. AMs gleefully cheered the slip.

But the clear message of the day?

"The pro-devolution forces need time to consider it (the All Wales Convention report) and to take the pulse of Welsh public opinion. For now I say only that the global economic crisis, combined with the anger about expenses, has created a deeply anti-politics culture in Wales - hardly the best time to be rushing to ask for more powers for politicians".

So no veto and a pledge once again to support a yes campaign.

Just don't ask him yet.


A question from Plaid's Nerys Evans on the timing of another 'event' - or is it a process - or the evolution of devolution. When will the UK Government respond to the Holtham Commission report?

The answer? Peter Hain will be making a statement tomorrow.


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