13/06/2007

Do you remember 1979?

The interest of Wales is much more important than Plaid's partisan advantages in deciding whether Plaid should go Red-Green or Rainbow.

The most important issue raised regarding the advantage of a Labour-Plaid coalition is ensuring that the clauses in the Government of Wales Act 2006 that promise Scottish type powers to the Assembly after 2011 are activated and activated with Labour support. The Rainbow doesn’t have the Assembly numbers needed to activate those clauses. If a Rainbow call for a referendum succeeded with the support of a few Labour rebels, but the majority in the Labour Party campaigned for a No vote, the referendum would be lost anyway.

However I have a serious doubt about this issue. A doubt about commitment.

If Labour is only willing to support a referendum on extended powers in return for a coalition, but will oppose extended powers without a coalition how committed is the Labour Party to extended powers?

I remember the 1979 referendum, where Labour officially supported Devolution (as did the Liberals) because Plaid, the SNP and the Liberals kept a Labour Government in power in return for the promised referendum with Official Labour Party Support. The only party campaigning with enthusiasm for the official Labour Party policy in Wales, was Plaid. Members of the Labour party were campaigning with gusto for a no vote against their party's policy and without censure.

If Labour is committed to extended powers then Labour should support a call for those powers from a Rainbow Government, not just as a sop for a Red-Green government. Sop support will not win the referendum. Sop support from Labour today will be as worthless as sop support was in 1979.

The only thing that would make me support a Red-Green coalition would be a guarantee that the Government of Wales Act 2006 will be amended to give Full Law Making powers to the Assembly without the need for a referendum, because I remember 1979 and I don't trust Labour on referendum deals.

7 comments:

  1. Quite right! Anyone outside the political bubble knows that all kinds of issues get mixed up with the referendum question - the fact that most voters think that all politicians are a bunch of self-serving, money wasting, society harming idiots for example.

    No, the referendum route serves the interests of the unionists.

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  2. Ah, more bubbles. Where have they sprung from so suddenly?

    A botched referndum will help no-one, this is true. A 'yes' vote is by no means certain. But what IS certain is that if Labour move heaven and earth to oppose a 'yes' vote, it will fail. This is not 'bubble' speak'- this staring a harsh reality in the face and not blinking.

    Granted, this is a real dilemma. A successful Rainbow government might well persuade voters that more powers for Cardiff would be a good thing, but the Labour party would almost certainly contrive to undermine any such referedum.

    A Labour/Plaid coalition would not only boost the chances of a) actually holding a referdum and b) winning it, but also ensure that the next government would implement policies introduced by the two largest aprties in the Assembly. If that doesn't convince voters that politicans are willing to work together, nothing will.

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  3. After the next Westminster election before 2010 with a likely Tory win, will Labour in Wales still hold back from really supporting a referendum?
    Can you see them agreeing that direct Tory rule is in Wales's best interests.

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  4. Yes, I think that there are very many in Labour who would prefer to see the Westminster Tories rule Wales. What you are failing to understand is that they are Brit nationalists first and foremost

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  5. Yeh, forget it.

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  6. You are right to state that the Labour party can't deliver its membership. In any case if Labour is unpopular then the referendum could be seen as a chance to deliver a verdict on both the Labour govt in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. The last referendum would probably not have been won if it had not been held in the wake of Labour's 1997 triumph. A vote against the assembly was seen as vote for the Tories and this swung the argument with many Labour voters. Even then the vote in areas such as the Bridgend constituency was 6 to 1 against. The vote in Bridgend county borough was 'yes' because in the traditonal Labour area of Ogmore the vote was 7 to 1 'yes'. Too many people don't vote in assembly elections to give any idea of the outcome of a referendum. Basically the promise to support a referendum is an easy one. On policy issues such as a new Welsh language act Labour will never get the support of its grassroots and it would never get through a Westminster Parliament. It is also interesting to see that Peter Balck isn't that concerned about a Labour/Plaid coalition. He knows that many of the Plaid votes are anti Labour. By 2011 a Labour/Plaid coalition will probably see Plaid lose the second list seat in Black's area. After all it was close run thing this time. In many parts of Wales the parties that will benefit from this are the Tories and the Lib Dems.It will be easy for them to portray Plaid as Labour's little helpers.

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