A Welsh devolution dynamic?

  • 1 March 2012
  • From the section Wales
  • comments

Our St David's Day opinion poll is reaching parts it's never reached before. The prevailing mood seems to be that devolution is interesting, relevant and significant - forgive me just a slight punch in the air.

On a busy day then, here are the bare bones.

Only three in ten of those questioned (29%) think that the current powers held by the National Assembly are sufficient.

Support for independence is even lower than you might have expected - 7% - a poser for Plaid Cymru which they answer by talking about the, for them, more positive 'direction of travel' on devolution.

If Scotland votes for independence, then the figure shifts upwards but only to 12%. The view doesn't change overall but it does harden. How much of a catalyst, or as the analyst with all the figures to hand puts it, how much of a "staging post in the process" will the Scottish referendum be?

Carwyn Jones put it pretty bluntly when I talked to him in Brussels on Monday. It's up to the people of Scotland how they vote but "I'm not following anyone off a cliff."

On tax varying powers, the most popular response was for 'some tax varying powers' - 36%.

Over a quarter - 28% - want power over all taxes.

32% want no powers at all.

The upshot? That while the splits are fairly even, a strong majority DO want tax powers - they're just not sure of the extent of them.

Among the 'some taxes' camp - including airport taxes and stamp duty - put the First Minister. He will argue, therefore, that is in line with the majority here. Yet put his strong convinction that Wales would lose out financially if much beyond the smaller taxes were devolved, then the voters certainly give the impression of being less cautious than their First Minister.

For me the bottom line is this: Wales is not 'Scotland lite' and whatever happens in Scotland in future, there is now a clear, Welsh devolution dynamic.

What to make of the result on David Cameron's health reforms in England?

They get short shrift in Wales. A substantial majority - 77% - think health service delivery should stay as it is, "with little or no competition or involvement by the private sector".

Good news for the Welsh Government but - as they accept - whatever your overall approach and however healthy the support for your basic principles, when you start closing people's services, they are outraged.

The word 'outraged' reminds me: last night a Welsh Government spokesperson responded to David Cameron's St David's Day reception by saying that "Wales needs more than warm words and warm white wine from the Prime Minister".

Given the wine came from Wales, from a vineyard round the corner from Monmouth MP David Davies' home, he's "utterly gobsmacked" at the attack. "The wine was delicious - and chilled, unlike the Welsh Government spokesman who saw fit to attack a small and successful family business".

Happy St David's day.