Monday, October 05, 2009

Another 'Hypothetical' Question.

I was going to write a blog post tonight about the ridiculous obsession of the media with a hypothetical question about what a Conservative Government would do in a situation which 'may' come to pass - before or after next year's General Election. But Dan Hannan beat me to it with his excellent article in tomorrow's Telegraph. That's my second link to it. So I'll write about a different hypothetical question that the Welsh media seems obsessed with. Here again, there seems to be an unhealthy desire to give credence to a strategy driven by our opponents. The hypothetical question concerned is what the response of a Conservative Government would be if the National Assembly (by a two thirds majority) asked that a referendum be held to establish whether a majority of Welsh voters want to move to part four of the 2006 Government of Wales Act.

I must be honest. Even though this issue is hugely interesting to me, I have never been asked it by any Montgomeryshire voter. In fact, the only time I've ever been asked it was on a Radio Cymru panel programme last year, when fellow panellist, Ieuan Wyn Jones tried to make it an issue - unsuccessfully I thought. On that occasion, it was Ieuan trying desperately to hide from the ears of the listeners the tortuous indecision that has typified the delivery on this issue by the Coalition Government of which he is a part. Nothing has changed. Its not a question I expect to be asked by anyone in Montgomeryshire before the General Election.

If you ask Mr Wyn Jones, or any of the three candidates who are standing in the election to become Wales' next First Minister, whether the Assembly will ask for a referendum before 2011, you will not elicit a straight answer. Set aside the bluster and it will inform you that it all depends on what Sir Emyr Jones-Parry advises in the Report that he is currently squirrelling away at. Labour and Plaid Cymru informed us that this referendum was going to be held in May, 2007. Three years will have passed by the time of the General Election. And still they cannot tell us that the question is going to be put. Now, I've been willing to tell them that I, will be supporting the move to part four of the Act, but they are not willing to be honest with me. Since they will not tell me whether the question is going to be asked, why the h*** should I answer their hypothetical questions.


alanindyfed said...

Hypothetical questions are largely irrelevant and forward planning requires taking account of changes in fact and opinion. What action will be taken depends entirely on current circumstances and limitations. No attempts should be taken to mislead the public with empty promises and hidden agendas. In a democracy government is accountable to the people and transparency is paramount.

Daran said...

There are lots of hoops and hurdles to jump through before a situation arises where a Conservative government is asked to support a trigger vote for a referendum in the Commons. Havins said that, if we were to reach such a point, then it would be electorally disasterous if the party was to say no to a referendum - not just in Wales but also in England, where a growing body of opinion favours a model of Home Rule too.

Another big mistake would be to forget the lessons of history, which I reflect on in today's WalesHome article:

Basically, should a Conservative administration be elected next year, it would probably be returned with double figure MPs from Wales. Get some basic things wrong and you'll be back to zero within two elections.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - Agreed. Even when a hypothetical question seems very likely to be put, the response may vary according to how the question is put, and to what extent circumstances have changed.

Daran - Its dificult to be cetain, but I too find it unthinkable that a request for a referendum could be refused. But I do also think that a failure by the Assembly to ask the question before next May will look remarkable as if some sort od game is being played, which is bound to generate antipathy. There is no reason why the question cannot be asked of the current Government, who would presumably approve the referendum. I have long suspected that the aim is to ask a Conservative Government, hoping for a refusal, so that the 'blame' for reneging on a promise can be transferred elsewhere.

In general, I agree with your views on who should occupy the Welsh Office. But I could not possibly say "Enoch Powell was right", without being vilified. One rule for Daran, and another for Glyn!

Swansea Voter said...

Glyn this is a poor post. You say you are going to address the hypothetical question of a tory government and the referendum then make no comment on that whatsoever instead embarking on a rant against Ieuan Wyn Jones. That is fine if that was your intention I just think you shouldn't claim to be addressing the former issue. It is after all an issue no member of your party has dared address. only thge lord roberts reports tried and we all know where that ended up. On the scrapheap

Hypo this said...

Glyn> this is obviously a bug-bear when in fact it is very easy to "turn-the-tables" on the source of the hypothetical question.

The questioner is looking for a quick kill - a forced answer from the respondent that the questioner immediately pounces on to humiliate the respondent and by association his/her political party. With the added bonus that if the respondent takes too much time to answer this will naturally not look so good to the listening audience.

It’s very easy to answer hypothetical questions (“hypotheticals”) once the respondent understands how hypotheticals work.

The ‘1-2-3’ tempo:

Questioner: Hypo
Respondent: Silly or delayed response
Questioner: Kill question from the questioner that does not require an answer from the respondent.

The tempo is important to the questioner, disrupt that and you’re half way home (e.g., if appropriate, treat the hypo as a compound question, but without complaining that it’s a compound question).

The hypo is typically based on a premise – spot the hidden premise and expose it in the answer to the hypo to disrupt the tempo.

It’s a bit like a pressure sales meeting, the salesman/woman is looking for the hidden objection – find and satisfy the hidden objection and close the deal.

Hypos are actually opportunities – handle them well and “Bob’s your Uncle”.

Penddu said...

Glyn, I agree with your assesment and would add that the most likely scenario is that the Assembly will vote positively on the referendum between Xmas (publication of Emyr Jones Parry reccomendation) and May (UK General Election) thus forcing the hand of the incoming (presumably Conservative) government with a denial provoking a constitutional crisis. I also believe that a Yes vote is more likely when the Conservatives are back in power in Westminster. Indeed, if a referendum is held with Brown still in power, then vote will amost certainly be lost!!

Daran said...

Without a doubt a Conservative government will make it more palatable for Labour to push this to a vote in the Assembly as a means of resurrecting the "Wales against the Tories" line that played so well in 1997.

"One rule for Daran, and another for Glyn!"
Too right, mate.

Glyn Davies said...

SV - You've not read my post properly. And do you really call that a rant? You must have lived a very sheltered existance!

Hypo - or just go on the offensive. Only other response is what I call lofty disdain.

Penddu - I'll believe it when I see it. If the Assembly vote is taken before the General Election, I would admire the logic. In my view, every party, including my own would have to give a clear answer to what would no longer be a hypothetical situation in their manifestos. If no vote is taken before May, it seems to me that there is no need to answer the question at all - though I know others in mt party may take a different view. It may well be seen by an incoming Government as the playing of silly partisan games.

Daran - that could easily be the Coalition partner's game. Even the fact that reasonable people such as us think such a thing is a sad reflection on Welsh politics.

Vote Glyn Davies said...

"... or just go on the offensive. Only other response is what I call lofty disdain."

Could work for you Glyn, u being a farmer (retired maybe) and all that jazz. Being a man of the earth you would likely not sound pompous.

VOTE GLYN DAVIES - No Hypo Toucheth This PPC!