The Referendum Lie

Much excitement on the BBC about the latest devolution opinion poll commissioned by the Corporation. Rather than cause me excitement however the poll leaves me in despair.

Because of the failings of previous Welsh opinion polls supporters of devolution are using polls that show a lead, but not a substantial lead, to play into the hands of the opponents of devolution. Devolutionists will not demand a referendum until the polls show substantially more support for further powers than those polls in 1997 that predicted more than 60% support for devolution. This is silly, an inaccurate poll is an inaccurate poll, and if today's poll showed 75% support for further powers it still couldn't be relied on. Those who want opinion polls to predict the best time to hold a referendum should be campaigning for more accurate polls rather than being panicked by inaccurate ones.

The whole referendum issue is, of course, a farce. Those Labour and Lib Dem MPs who stood in the last Westminster election insisting that a referendum should be held on the European constitution but who have now ditched that commitment are blatant hypocrites for insisting that a further devolution referendum is still necessary. A referendum on the Government of Wales Act would not have anything like the constitutional implications of the Lisbon Treaty. Indeed if a referendum was held tomorrow and was heavily defeated it wouldn't prevent the Assembly from acquiring all of the powers offered in the GoW Act over time through the LCO system.

The thing that caused me the most despair, however, was that the BBC and the political pundits insist on peddling the lie that a referendum will put the Assembly on a par with the Scottish Parliament, Betsan Powys' reports even suggested that the question asked in the poll mentioned Scottish Powers. The Government of Wales Act offers the Assembly fewer than a fifth of the limited powers that Scotland has - politicians and broadcasters who claim otherwise are deliberately deceiving the public.


  1. I've posted on such a thing on my own blog, I think myself that it be more to do with possible turn out and what the convention find about the support of devolution rather then a BBC Poll. However the support has raisen since last year by 2%, which is very promising for devolutionists.

  2. Lets have a referendum, and put the whole sorry thing to bed!

  3. this Opinion Poll must please the new Secretary of State Paul Murphy and make Peter Hain feel very smug indeed, it also keeps the vipers in Valley Labour happy and Welsh Labour MP's are safe for a good while yet.

    As for Plaid Cymru selling out for a 2% rise in support over 9 months you couldn't make it up, good luck at the local elections boys !

  4. The Finch said:
    Lets have a referendum, and put the whole sorry thing to bed!

    I agree entirely Ms Finch. Lets get this referendum phase done,dusted and out of the way. As far as the Government of Wales Act is concerned, it makes no difference. The powers are there through the LCOs.

    A referendum tomorrow gets rid of this blocking stage in the evolution of devolution and allows those who support devolution to get on to the next stage - whatever the result!

  5. Alwyn

    I think you are spot on about the polling data and its use. I have always found Wales suffers from a opinion polling deficit, which is linked to the wider problem of not having enough 'welsh' media.


    I mean this poll pretty much says the opposite!

  6. The trouble is that the political class don't seem aware of the utter contempt in which they are held by a large proportion of the tax paying public. Devolution just gets lumped in with the general dislike of all our institutions, EU, Westminster and local government. It's seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    This could change if Plaid ditched their BBC-Guardianista world view but then that's hardly likely to happen.

  7. Hain, Murphy and Co. seem bent on delaying the devolution of further powers as far as they can possibly go - in some case the devolution of certain powers has been ruled out completely - particularly power consents. Why?

    I think Plaid have made a big strategic mistake by locking themselves into the One Wales Accord, and basing their consent to the Accord on a Convention. A convention seems to me just another holding measure to buy for TIME...

    I think Plaid have effectively neutralised themselves, at least for the time being. Very naive.

    And if Plaid HAVE neutralised themselves then surely the impetus for a referendum must now come from a grassroots, popular-based campaign. Devolutionists need to be out there making the case on the streets as they were in 1997, and building POPULAR support.

    Parliaments and Assemblies may be the domain of paid politicians, but are we the people supposed to sit back and leave the job to them as soon as they get elected? Isn't that a little naive? Is that how the Assembly was created in the first place?