Thursday, 1 March 2012
St David's day poll
We may not all live in a yellow submarine, but politicians whatever their size and status seem to live in a bubble. Within the last couple of months independence has been the talk of most politicians and others in the chattering class.
It started with the teasing out of a date for the Scottish referendum on independence out of Alex Salmond. This was followed by both David Cameron and Ed Milliband making major speeches in Edinburgh. Let's face it, a fair share of column inches and air time has been devoted to the subject.
Our own dear Carwyn, got in on the act, demanding an UK wide constitutional convention. Today he’s modified it be calling for a commission.
Convention - commission, commission - convention, it all amounts to the same. What he wants is a look at how the UK is held together.
His initial view was that new arrangements would have to be devised for the Union should the Scots decide to break loose. But he’s now convinced that new arrangements need to be put in place whether the Scots are in or out of the Union.
And of course, in the Plaid Cymru leadership battle, talk of independence has dominated their hustings. Oh, how much heat was generated in those closed rooms on it. A bit like those medieval theological discussions as to the number of angels on a head of a pin.
Then the damned public come along and pour cold water on it all. Their view, “no way, not interested, forget it.”
The latest proof of this comes in the Saint David’s day poll conducted by ICM for BBC Wales.
When those polled were asked whether Wales should become independent, separate from the UK, only 7% were in favour.
When asked about independence if Scotland becomes independent, the number only just edges up to 12%. This is exactly the same figure that the ITV poll came up with a month ago when asking the same question, to presumably a different cohort of people.
So despite all the publicity, the people are not for turning on this issue. There’s no appetite for going it alone.
A point that Dafydd Elis-Thomas has consistently pushed within his own party over the years. A stance that has given him an unique selling point in the current leadership contest. Whether the zealot’s within his own party has brought the brand will be revealed before long when the contest results are announced.
It would seem that what the people want is more akin to what Lloyd George wanted in the late 19th century - Home rule. A policy that the the old Liberals have even managed to carry through their rebirth as Liberal Democrats.
Yes, the people of Wales want more powers to rule themselves (30%) and power over taxes. 28% want powers over all taxes and 36% have a preference for some taxation powers.
So there we have it, two thirds of those polled want to move the financial levers to Wales. Only a third want to leave things as they are.
This poll confirms what the politicians over the years have refused to acknowledge, that the Welsh people are not afraid to take full responsibility for their own affairs. But don’t want to leave the Union.
For certain the poll is a challenge to Plaid Cymru. If independence remains a long term aspiration they’ve got to get their act together. It needs to proselytise if it is to get the people of this land to share its aims. It can’t be the policy that they dare not speak its name.
But hold on, the poll also challenges the Labour government.
The Welsh people want the government to step up to the table on taxation. Now Labour has dragged its feet on the taxation issue. Hiding behind the need to reform the Barnett formula.
This poll says that’s not good enough. In the words of the old street demonstration, “When do we want it, We want it now."