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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Labour in (political) climate change denial

One of the characterisations of climate change is the unexpected appearance of extreme storms that appear, cause lasting damage, and disappear with the same intensity. Such is the political storm that started in Cardiff this morning with the release of Welsh Labour’s statement on future progress, or not, of the referendum on additional powers for the Assembly.

The paragraph that caused offence to Plaid Cymru was

“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.”

Hapless? Innocent? Misread? Misinterpreted? Deliberate? Calculated? Who knows? Probably the lot! However a lasting damage has been done, not to the Coalition but to Labour.

I have no doubt that Peter Hain made promises to his fellow Labour MP’s that no referendum would take place on his watch, that they the MP’s were primus inter pares, at no juncture would the fledgling Assembly usurp their influence, and latterly, that Sir Emyr was a ‘knight of the realm’ and could be trusted to return the right answer. But politics is an evolving game and the Assembly now has a far greater influence on our day to day lives than the London Parliament, as well, Sir Emyr is a physicist who looked at the facts and came up with the answer that did not suit Peter Hain’s convenience. Peter Hain designed an LCO system to suit his short term political needs, not a way to govern Wales - it actually makes the case for moving to Part 4.

Labour still hasn’t subscribed to political climate change here in Wales, they were thoroughly out manouvered (again!) by Plaid – the threat not to vote for the new First Minister focussed Labour minds – the Tories are in a political ascendancy and for once Kirsty Williams made a half decent speech. The Labour hegemony has gone and Labour are in denial. By the end of today we had witnessed one spectacular climbdown, a complete U turn. I am not ready to believe that Rhodri is too demob happy to care about Wales but the original Labour statement was a formidable faux pas. Vaughan Roderick has another theory that this was cunning Machiavellian plan by Rhodri to get back at Peter Hain.

Whatever the original motive, Labour seem more intent on defending the indefensible, it’s evidence of a Party of MP's too long in Government. Life is moving on and delivering a referendum for Wales would partially redeem their reputation. The ball is in Labour's court and we shall wait and see what dear Peter has to say tommorrow. I am not hopeful.

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