Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cameron offers no veto on referendum

There has been speculation for some time as to what attitude David Cameron would take if the Assembly demanded a referendum on more powers.
Well, the speculation will end tomorrow when Cameron visits Wales. He will make it clear that he'll not exercise a veto on a request from the Assembly for a referendum on the issue.
This announcement by Cameron will be seen as a victory for the Tory Assembly group who have been pushing for some time for a committment from the Leader of the Opposition on the matter.
Now the attention will be on  what stance the Tories will take in such a referendum. The last time they opposed devolution. But this time the Tory group in the Assembly will almost all be pushing hard for law making powers and  campaigning for a Yes vote.
The MPs, though, are a different kettle of fish. They will be in the 'over my dead body' wing of the Tory party. The same lot that were on the wrong side of history in the 1997 referendum.
The current formula adopted by the leadership to cover the schism in their ranks, is that old political standby - the free vote.  All will be free to campaign on either side of the debate, as they see fit.
Is this a  credible stance for a governing party to take?
It would seem so. As Cheryl Gillan makes clear in tonights 'Sharp End'. When pushed to say what line she'd take as a future Secretary of State she declined to commit herself and enlighten us.
To paraphrase the words of the Ella Fitzgerald song:
'She didn't say yes, she didn't say no,
she didn't say stay, she didn't say go;
So what did she do?
I'll leave it you.'

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