Friday, 4 March 2011

Referendum rights a wrong

The referendum put’s right a wrong committed by the Labour Party on the people of Wales in 1995. For it was in that year the ruling clique of the Labour Party turned the conclusions of Labour policy commission on devolution on its head.

The Labour Commission collected evidence throughout Wales and the vast majority of the submissions received wanted the devolved body to make laws. This view was reflected in the final draft of the Commission’s report.

But, alas, the final report did not  contain the policy. Why?

The Commission was swamped with representatives sent from the party leaders office and the shadow home secretary’s office  to water down the report. So Messrs. Blair and Straw got their way and the spineless Wales Labour executive went along with these changes.

So Scotland got a real law making Parliament and Wales got its toothless Assembly.

It has taken a Commission by Lord Richard and a Convention run by Sir Emyr Jones Parry and an other Act of Parliament and now an unnecessary second referendum to give the Welsh people what they should have  been on the table and voted on fourteen years ago in the 1997 referendum.

But now that these powers have finally been granted it is an opportunity for the parties in their manifestos next May to inspire with creative proposals as to how they will change Wales for the better.

The new settlement means that the Cardiff Bay politician can no longer blame Westminster. There is no hiding place. Law making rests firmly with the Assembly and they will be judged solely on their merits.

But does this all mean the end of the constitutional wrangling between Westminster and Wales? Not a bit of it.

There is still the vexed question of how Wales will should be funded. Scotland is moving ahead with new powers over their own finances. What about Wales? Will the Barnett formula be finally be scrapped and a new settlement that is more favorable to Wales’s needs emerge?

And what about other areas such as criminal justice and energy. How long will it be before the Assembly campaigns for power over these to be devolved? Will the agenda of Lloyd George and Keir Hardy of real Home rule be the next call to arms. We shall see.

For certain this referendum was a vote to put right what the Welsh people were cheated of on the ‘90s. The next generation will have their own ideas of what they want for Wales and the political institutions will have to change to reflect these aspirations.
Below are the results as published by the Electoral Commission

Local voting areaYes    No
Blaenau Gwent11,869   5,366
Bridgend25,063  11,736
Caerphilly28,431  15,751
Cardiff53,427  33,606
Carmarthenshire42,979  17,712
Ceredigion16,505   8,412
Conwy18,368  12,390
Denbighshire15,793    9,742
Flintshire21,119  12,913
Gwynedd28,200    8,891
Isle of Anglesey14,011    7,620
Merthyr Tydfil9,136    4,132
Monmouthshire12,381   12,701
Neath Port Talbot29,957   11,079
Newport15,983   13,204
Pembrokeshire19,600   16,050
Powys21,072   19,730
Rhondda Cynon Taff43,051   17,834
Swansea38,496   22,409
Torfaen14,655    8,688
Vale of Glamorgan19,430   17,551
Wrexham17,606     9,863

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  1. Excellent blog post, we were sold down the river by the anti devolution section of the Labour Party and now we have moved on - unfortunately the other nations of the UK have also moved on and we are still playing catch up. But at least the National Assembly is firmly bedded down.

  2. It's not really what you were cheated of - considering how close the referendum was to being lost, surely that was actually a smart tactical move to minimise the hostility of the anti-devolutionist MPs?

    It's not ideal that it's taken 13 years to fix, but a decade of a parliament that up until now has had to get its laws rubber stamped is surely better than the alternative of a decade of no devolution whatsoever?

    Cowardice it may have been, but arguably tactically smart cowardice.

  3. Whatever the history, and regardless of the reasons, Cymru has witnessed a new dawn! The actual powers transferred in the referendum are fairly irrelevant - what we have seen is and expression of national self confidence, and and acceptance of the National Assembly as an immutable part of Welsh life. We have never seen that before!

    O FRYNIAU CAERSALEM! Hyfryd ddydd!