Tuesday, 24 March 2009

50 / 50

Another poll and more proof that more people in Wales want further devolution compared to those that don’t, but is it enough? Probably not.

Results in the last two months have shown that those in support of more powers at either 48% or 52% and those against at 33% or 35% and a good 10% undecided.

Given that Lord Ellis Thomas has said on numerous occasions that they shouldn’t hold a referendum until they know that the ‘Yes’ campaign would win, these results, whilst positive reading for pro devolutionists, show that they are no nearer being in a place to be certain of a referendum victory than they were some years ago. Things for those who support Part Four are moving in the right direction but moving very slowly.

Further to Dewi Tri’s post below, I got thinking about the One Wales government and Plaid Cymru’s pledge to hold a referendum before 2011, with the figures moving in their favour slowly do they hold the referendum with a chance of losing but stay loyal to their pledge. Or do they hold on until they definitely win but let another of their manifesto points slip by the wayside?
Plaid Cymru’s home base are already somewhat unimpressed with their performance in government what with their failure to deliver “Y Byd”, the less than impressive progress made on affordable houses and of course the recent furore over top-up fees. The only act to reinvigorate the Plaid grass roots is a website supporting independence that has floating voters scratching their heads.

These results also show that the efforts of “True Wales” are failing as more and more people cross over into the “Yes” camp.

The question that is on my lips however is what do the polls have to look like before the Assembly takes the plunge and goes to the people to see what they think?


Dewi Un



Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

This is exactly the point I have been making, only for the Plaid leaning blogs to spit feathers.

My understanding of the One Wales commitment was that the findings of the AWC were the key fulcrum as to whether a referendum is held (due it being deemed eminently winnable). It is patently nonsense to believe that on current form the AWC will report that their research indicates ‘clear and sustained support’ which will deliver a victory.

My concern, as a Labour devolutionist committed 100% to a full welsh parliament, is that Plaid agitators merely put the blinkers on and start demanding a referendum even without that the clear public support. That is a hari kiri that those who support a full welsh parliament do not want to have to have. The internal bitterness within Plaid shouldn’t spill over it shrill demands that fly in the face of the evidence.

Ultimately, there is support for a full welsh parliament – however, to say it is clear enough to be in a ‘winning position’ is not true unfortunately. It’s not whether there is support (there is clearly), its whether that support is strong enough to near guarantee a yes vote (as per the parameters set).

DaiTwp said...

I'm sure I've got a vague memory of Peter Hain going on about polling consistantly in the 60%s before a referndum would be called.

Obviously he to some extent is out of the picture but I think that is the sort of figure the pro-devos will be looking for in a series of polls before risking a referendum. Unless there are some sort of unforseeable political reasons to go for it before that.

MH said...

In any other political circumstances a 13% lead in the polls would be MORE than sufficient. If two polls in a row showed Labour had anywhere near that lead over the Tories, Gordon Brown would call an election tomorrow, wouldn't he?

In my opinion, the purpose of the AWC has never been about public opinion. Public opinion is quite clear and, if the trend continues, will be even more clear in late 2010 or early 2011.

It is purely a device to allow Labour to quietly face up to the fact that they will lose the next Westminster election. Once they realize they will lose it, they will all (except a small handful of refuseniks) come out in favour of a "Yes" in a referendum. They know full well that a Tory SoSW will be able to prevent them doing what they want in the Assembly, and will want to insulate themselves from such interference.

Of course they can't say that publicly, nor will they say that they're going to lose in 2010. They will instead say something like, "Now that public opinion has become clear, we think it's time to reflect their wishes and take the next step forward."

That always was, and still is, the plan. The AWC will report late this year, and the politicians then have a 5 or 6 month window to get the legislation through Cardiff and Westminster before May 2010. A date will be set for Autumn 2010 or, preferably, Spring 2011. By then the Tories will have started doing what Tories do (it's in their DNA, according to Cameron) the other three parties will round on them, and the referendum will be presented as a simple, "Do you want Tories to decide what is best for Wales, or should we decide for ourselves?"

... and the margin in favour will be even more overwhelming than it is now.

B Griffiths said...

I am puzzled a bit when the Tory lead of 10% is described as comfortable, and yet a 13% Yes vote lead is described as ‘grim reading.’ If only 13% surprises you, then I am amazed. While the tiny but loud True Wales group is busy scaremongering, virtually nobody is persuading people to vote yes when the referendum comes. The question ‘do you want more powers’ itself shows a lack of understanding. It isn’t about ‘more powers’ it about giving Welsh Assembly primary legislative powers rather than secondary legislative powers, so that laws over matters that are devolved to Wales are made in Wales rather this absurdly complicated, cumbersome and unsustainable LCO process at present.

Let’s look at those arguments used by no campaigners. First, a yes vote is a move towards independence. Let’s get real, that isn’t going to happen, certainly not in my lifetime and I’m a youngish 31. Second, they will increase our taxes. Tax varying powers aren’t devolved to the Welsh Government, which dispels that myth. And council taxes and business rates are more or less set at a local level so that too is a non starter.

This is why I will vote Yes. It will make our democratic process 1- Simpler. 2 – Quicker. 3 – Cheaper (how much does the present LCO system cost the taxpayers in civil service time alone?). And some say this is all boring and it’s for political anoraks. But look at it this way, whether the Welsh government can pass laws affects effectively impacts on the quality of your child’s education, the care you or your relative receive in hospital, and issues such as the future of farming, road and rail links, environment, Welsh language, housing, renewable energy and many other things. This issue may not be as exciting as which celeb is bedding who but it’s far, far more important.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

"It is purely a device to allow Labour to quietly face up to the fact that they will lose the next Westminster election. Once they realize they will lose it, they will all (except a small handful of refuseniks) come out in favour of a "Yes" in a referendum."

I will quite happily say that this has a grain of truth in it; i do think there will be a more concerted effort to win the referendum once this GE is out the way.

Anonymous said...

Marcus firstly you haven't been saying what this blog says. You have been saying this is a grim result. Also how can you say plaid are blinkered going to the polls with no clear majority. Labour are in this aswell if it goes to the polls and personally i think 13% is a clear lead. are you don touhig in desguise?

Anonymous said...


Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

I am alot things, but Don Touhig i am not.

MH said...

STH, the only problem is that Labour can't leave it until AFTER the Westminster elections.

To get a referendum, we need to get a two thirds majority in the Assembly, and approval by the SoSW, and approval in both Houses at Westminster. There is no chance of a Tory SoSW letting it through, because the Tories would not want to let go of their ability to veto Assembly legislation.

In other words, all the arrangements about the exact wording of the question and the date of the vote must be sealed, done and dusted before Labour's term of office ends. The Tories could try and change it when they get in, but we need to trust that the political outcry would dissuade them.

But the campaigning would all take place well after the Westminster election. The "nightmare scenario" is that Labour put all the arrangements in place, but that by some miracle they win the election. In that case, they would not want to relinquish the power that their own SoSW has enjoyed and they would campaign only half-heartedly in the hope the referendum would be lost. That might make things tighter, but I think public opinion will prove solid enough.

There's a simple rule of thumb: it's never simply about principle or democracy, in the end it's about POWER.

If Labour leave it too late, they will spend the next five years in opposition at Westminster demanding that the Tories let us have a referendum ... which the Tories will steadfastly refuse. If the Tories win a second or third term (remember that we've had 18 years of the Tories followed by what will be 13 years of Labour) we'll have to wait ten or fifteen years. By that time Labour will have so committed themselves that they will have to let us have it when they eventually get back in.

But that's too long to wait. It's either now or so long into the future that it might as well be never.