We may make strange bedfellows, but Normal Mouth and View from the Glen agree with my view that a referendum on the next step for the National Assembly is unnecessary.

I can't see the constitutional value of a referendum based on the Government of Wales Act 2006, because the result of the referendum won't change the powers that the Assembly has. A yes vote will just simplify the way that those powers are accessed. A no vote will keep hurdles - it won't change powers.

As a general point, Gordon Brown has said that he wants to review the Union's constitution. In doing so he would be wise to consider passing a Referendum Act that makes it clear when and why referenda are called.

An ad-hoc use of referenda for political expediency isn't democratic. If referenda are to be used at all in the political process, then consistent constitutional law, rather than a government's fancy should trigger them.


  1. The results in 1997 referendum was very close, and if the Assembly was to get full-law making powers, the same as in Scotland, without a referendum would be seen as being undemocratic, and also would damage the legitimacy of the insitution in many people eyes.

  2. In the US referendums are used mostly to legislate either local acts, or even as amendments to their respective state constitutions . This type politics was introduced by the populists in 19th Century to counter the influence of the plutocrats that dominated the government of the time.

    A prime example of this type of legislation recently was the TABOR amendment in Colorado which was passed by a popular vote in 1994 (?) It restricted tax raises to the inflation rate. It tied the politicos hands.

    I disagree with use of referendums in the UK as Britain is a representative democracy (parliament is sovereign in reality).

  3. The use of referendia in the UK are not democtratic. I have to disagree with Geraint. A westminster government can give wales equal power with scotlands parliment without another costly referendum. Why? Simple we voted to join the common market, then every couple of years we sign up to more power to the EU with no referendia.

    See how simple the point is if you do not agree with this then how do you feel about the Labours parties last 10 yers woth of deals with the EU?

  4. Alwyn was it you on TV sat on the grass having a fag out side the do yesterday

  5. I think I am right in saying that the Labour Party is the only party that has ever offered a referendum on a treaty from the European Union. The EU is very undemocratic and disconnected from people all over Europe, and so needs urgent reforms.

    Giving a referendum would give a full law making power in Wales more legitimacy, and would give it more clout. The MPs would have very little to moan about after a won referendum, as would anyone in Wales who doesn't support it. The Assembly also had a very narrow victory, and if people were voting on a full-law making parliament (with tax powers) then it unknown how those votes would have gone.

    The problem is with how close the result was in the 1997 referendum, in my opinion.

  6. I think Glen had made a very valid point about the EU. The UK has ceded bits and pieces of our sovereignty over last 20 year without consulting the British people .

    Surely that is not right! I remember a spitting Image sketch about the MEP. If I recall it was in the form of a pig! Pork barrel politics. anyhow the Kinnock family did very well out of the EU!

  7. Geraint's point about "perception" is important and very valid.

    I agree with Geraint that because of the two referendums we have had on devolution then there is an expectation that a referendum must be held before the National Assembly is given more powers.

    However there was more constitutional change in the 2006 Act that has gone through without a referendum, than there will be if the referendum clause of the act is activated. There should have been a referendum, for the sake of consistency, on the 2006 act.

    There is a clause in the Labour-Plaid deal that says something like We will hold a referendum if we think that we will win it, if we think that we will lose we won't bother. This doesn't sound very democratic to me.

    I have nothing against referendums, per say, on any issue, but I do think that they should be triggered by specific events defined in law rather than by political advantage.

    Mrs Thatcher abolished the GLC without consulting the people of London. The National Assembly could be abolished in the same way without consulting the people of Wales. A "Referendums Act" could ensure that the same couldn't be done to the Assembly.