So what is Welsh Labour’s stance on the timing of a referendum? Well if you read this statement sent out yesterday lunchtime by Peter Hain, Rhodri Morgan and Gary Owen (Welsh Labour Chair) it seems obvious.
“ Our internal policy process has already begun: Welsh Labour’s Welsh Joint Policy Committee has met, prioritised the need to campaign for a General Election victory, and agreed to start considering the All Wales Convention report in detail as a prelude to stepping-up wider Party consultation with AMs and MPs, councillors, trade unionists and members as soon as the General Election is over.“
Holding on this long would make it difficult to foresee a referendum before the next Assembly elections in 2011, let alone a referendum in 2010, and in particular the Autumn of 2010 which is the favoured option of the opposition (and Plaid Cymru)
But wait – fast forward a couple of hours, in which Rhodri Morgan took a battering in Plenary, the One Wales coalition started creaking and scores of angry AMs and advisors were pacing up and down the Senedd and we have a different picture.
Another joint statement – this time by Rhodri and Ieuan Wyn Jones reading:
“All options for the timing of a referendum remain open... nothing has been ruled in or ruled out, including, if it proved practical, a referendum in the autumn”
So what is the stance of Welsh Labour? If they want to wait until after an election before making any moves then the above statement is a falsehood – because they wouldn’t have the requisite time, which means they are ruling an Autumn referendum out. So the question remains, do they want to wait until after a general election or not?
Peter Hain is talking to Assembly today so hopefully things will be far clearer soon - or alternatively they could stay just as they are, clear as mud.