You've really got to give the prize to Peter Hain. His ability to generate publicity is unmatched. Since Gordon Brown brought him back into Government he's been all over the place. Yesterday's edition of the Western Mail had three full pages on his thoughts, brought to us courtesy of Tomos Livingstone. Some of what Peter is reported to have said is utter tripe - as when he repeats the Gordon Brown line about 'Tory cuts' in public spending. Peter, the only figures about 'cuts' we've seen so far came straight out of the Chancellor's red box. I'm afraid they are Labour cuts. A bit of tinkering about where they might fall does not make them 'Tory cuts'.
But I think he is talking sense when he says of the proposed referendum on full law making powers for the National Assembly "This is not the right time, and I don't see the right time for the next few months or couple of years". Peter is telling the Plaid/Labour Coalition Government in the National Assembly that its promise to hold such a referendum before 2011 should be broken. He also seems to suggest that 'very senior members' Plaid Cymru agree. Perhaps the 'less senior members' should ask him who they are. Or was this a little porkie?
For over a year, this blog has discounted a referendum being held before 2011. As soon as they started piddling around with a 'convention', I stopped believing them. I've also described this Sir Emyr Jones-Parry Convention as 'a mechanism for delay' and a convenient peg which will allow the leader of Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones to slither out of the promise which he used to persuade his party to sign up to a coalition with Labour in the first place. What is interesting to me, is that I'm increasingly hearing the suggestion from devo-sceptics in my own party that a referendum should be held without waiting for the requisite 40 Assembly Members to ask for it. "Lets get it over with" is what I hear (from admittedly a small number as yet). Like Peter Hain, they think a referendum would be lost - and I fear they might be right be wary. I just ask those who disagree with the newly re-appointed Secretary of State to be careful, very careful indeed about what they wish for.