I was none too impressed by the arguments put forward by the two combatants in today's Politics Show, Rachel Banner and Nerys Evans. Rachel was outlining the case for a No vote in the forthcoming referendum on law making powers for the the National Assembly, and Nerys was making the case for a Yes vote. It wasn't Ciaran's fault. He was asking the right questions. Seemed to me that both of them were basing their arguments on very shaky ground. Bit depressing if this is to be a taster for the sort of arguments that will be used in the campaign.
Rachel first. She seemed to be implying that AMs are in support of extra power because it will lead to an increase in an AM's salary. I'm not at all sure this is true. In May 2007, an AM's salary increased by 8.3% because the power to make laws was granted in the 2006 Government of Wales Act. Its just that it has barely happened. Since the process of power transfer under the system that has applied since then has been so slow, it could be argued that AMs have been overpaid over the last two years! Whatever, the basis on which an AM's salary is calculated after a successful referendum will not necessarily change much. I can see that it will play well to people's current perception of politician's avarice, but it's falseness makes it a rather vulgar argument.
Nerys' turn next. She was trying to describe the change proposed in the referendum as a "tidying up exercise". That is not going to wash. Admittedly, the big principled change was made with the 2006 Act. But that has been a failure - despite what some MPs try to claim for it. But its still a big change. We've heard this phrase "Tidying up exercise" before, and it looked decidedly dodgy last time. If the Yes camp run with this, they will look dishonest, and may lose. I do think that we will have a referendum in the Autumn, and I hope the two sides come up with something rather better than we saw today.