Yesterday the full Liberal Conservative coalition document was published (you can read it firsthand here – complete with pictures of Dave and Nick being all chummy).
If you look through it there are a couple of paragraphs of interest to Wales, particularly page 28:
“We will introduce the recommendations of the Calman Commission and introduce a referendum on further Welsh Devolution”
“We recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances. Depending on the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, we will establish a process similar to the Calman Commission for the Welsh Assembly”
As Betsan blogs in far more detail (here) this second paragraph causes a great deal of problems for the Welsh Liberal Democrats who pledged in their manifesto to replace the Barnett formula.
What we have now is a change of tone from Kirsty Williams and her party who are dressing this new commission up as a positive, as something they’ve been fighting for. In response to an earlier Tweet of mine Peter Black defended a new commission saying “a commission owned by the Treasury this time so we can make progress and which goes further than Holtham”.
Well contradiction o’clock – let’s roll back to July 7th 2009. In this press release Kirsty Williams says quite clearly,in response to the Holtham Report,“The Westminster Government needs to act immediately” .
She also says “.... We have long argued that the Barnett formula is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced with a fairer system.”
So it would seem that the Welsh Liberal Democrats no longer think that Westminster needs to act immediately on Barnett reform. Instead they are advocating yet another commission to look into it.
Is it any wonder that people have a perception that politicians just talk about things and don’t actually do anything?