The only conclusion drawable is that both Labour and Plaid Cymru are not as keen as they pretend on holding the promised referendum on law making powers for the National Assembly for Wales before the next Assembly Election in 2011. We've known for a while that most Labour MPs, including Peter Hain are against holding it. And I've long suspected the leadership of Plaid Cymru of being in cahoots (though I have no evidence for this). But I'll try and make my case. Its a case that's featured on this blog before.
Everything was going swimmingly while it was assumed that David Cameron would decide (if he became Prime Minister) that the crisis facing Britain is such that no referendums would be held during his first term of office. All they had to do was delay it until after the General Election - despite having had over two years to move on it. This is what I allege Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones expected. When the Conservative Leader announced recently that he would not veto a referendum, it was a stunning game changer. I recall Ieuan Wyn Jones informing me last summer (on a Radio Cymru panel programme) that he would not commit to calling for the referendum unless I committed a future Conservative Government to a 'no veto' policy. I was a PPC. How on earth could I do that. Utterly ridiculous I know - but true. The upshot of the Cameron announcement was that last week's 'trigger vote' became unavoidable. To make matters worse, both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives backed down from their threat to abstain over the suggestion that the referendum could be held on Assembly Election day. Carwyn Jones' silly little ploy was 'stuffed' when every Conservative AM backed the trigger vote.
So what's the next ruse. Delay and delay of course. Now every one in the land knew weeks ago that the Feb. 9th vote was taking place, and knew it would be a 'trigger vote' - though Carwyn Jones played a silly little game with this as well. And they knew it would be approved, and that he would be asked to write a letter to Peter Hain to formally launch the process. Why on earth was it not written and ready. Its a hugely significant event in Welsh political history. Why was the letter not handed over, with a bit of ceremony, on the Senedd steps the next day. It seems that a week has gone by and nothing has happened. Its enough to make anyone wonder what's going on.
And what has been the response to all this by Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Wales (a man with whom I find that I share a birthday). Zilch. We know that he has 120 days to respond to the formal letter (when the First Minister gets around to sending it) - but there's no rule that says he has to wait 120 days. It looks suspiciously as if he intends to drag his feet, so that Labour and Plaid Cymru can blame an incoming Conservative Secretary of State for any difficulty in meeting the timetable needed for an October referendum - which is the best date by miles.
Of course the referendum date could be put off until near Dydd Gwyl Dewi on March 1st (or even Assembly Election day in May). They may even think this would help the Yes vote. Well, I think they would be wrong. The No campaign would accuse them of 'gerrymandering'. I can just hear Rachel Banner's persuasive tone throughout the coming summer, demanding the referendum in October, before the vote can influence, or be influenced by the Assembly Election. And she would be right. The delayists are fools. They are asking for trouble. I believe that the Yes campaign would win in October/Novemeber, may just about scrape a win in March, but would lose in May. Come on Carwyn Jones, and you Plaid apologists. Get on with it.