Saturday, 20 April 2013

What's the point in a Referendum if it doesn't resolve the issue?

Two years ago some of us voted in a  referendum on extending the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales

On 3 March 2011. The referendum asked the question:

 "Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?"
What's the point in a Referendum if it doesn't resolve the issue?
The vote  on a  admittedly low 35.63%b Turnout , 63.49% voted 'yes', and 36.51% voted 'no'. In 21 of 22 local authorities the vote was 'yes', with the exception being Monmouthshire by a slim majority.

Few flt that was the end pf the Devolution Process nut it was hoped thta it at least cleared up a number of constitutional anomalies .

Far from it the latest problem/row is whether the Assembly has powers to change the voting system for local government elections.

Plaid’s Mid and West AM Simon Thomas has  proposed a Member’s Bill to change the voting system in local government to Single Transferable Vote (STV), but Labour AM  Mike  Hedges, ( I've never heard of him either) claimed that Assembly electoral arrangements are reserved to the UK Parliament.

But Mr Thomas, a member of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee, said:

 “National Assembly lawyers were happy for the proposal for Fair Votes In Local Government (Wales) Bill to go ahead and confirmed that in writing to us. We can use Scotland as a precedent where the Single Transferable Vote system has worked.”

So whose right ?
Er We don't really know.

Stephen Brooks, the director of the Electoral Reform Society in Wales, said that there was a lack of clarity among Assembly Members and government officials over what fell under the competence of the Assembly – and raised the prospect of repeated trips to the Supreme Court to “test” parts of the settlement. said:
 “It appears that the power [over local government voting systems] is not devolved and I think, reading the advice I received from the Chief Legal Officer to the Presiding Officer, and hearing what the Welsh Government has said, it appears it is not devolved.
“But the problem remains that it is unclear, and it has to be the UK Government that declares a view or tests this, in the courts, and effectively until that time, the Assembly is in limbo.”
MrBrooks ,said that the current system was “confusing” and discouraged AMs from making laws.

He said:

“What I find interesting is, if we are trying to encourage backbench AMs and opposition AMs to come forward with new laws for Wales, if they are confused by the powers they have and receive conflicting advice, you have to question the way we have set up the ‘conferred powers’ model in the Assembly.
The issue over reform over the Electoral system is important because of the news that local councils in Wales could face a big shake-up under a major review into the way public services are run.

The Welsh government has ruled out any large reorganisation before the next assembly election; But a review is seen as an attempt to reach an agreement on cutting some of the 22 Welsh councils after 2016.

So it would make it sense that at the same time we examine the electoral system ?

But it seems that even if this was carried out and it was recommended that we aped Scotland adopted STV . the Assembly could not carry this out even if it wanted to.

It would be like the WRU imposing a new League Structure but being told that it couldn't change the points or bonus point system .

It is clear unless we to have parity with Scotland and have a proper parliament then we are still going to have these arguments over competence  and filing the coffers of the lawyers as we troop again and again to the high court and possibly beyond.

Isn't it about time we got it right.?


maen_tramgwydd said...

And who is responsible for this shambles of a devolution settlement devised on the back of a fag packet?


And who is responsible for the economic mess of the UK, which has the biggest per capita debt in the developed world?


You might care to guess who has made Wales into the poor man of Europe, much poorer than Poland and the Czech Republic, and poorer even than Romania and Bulgaria?


Whilst you wait endlessly for your hospital appointment, and your children languish in third rate schools or travel to Albania to find the only European country, other than Wales which has no electrified railways, ponder on who is to blame.


Kindly write to Ed Miliband and Carwyn Jones, with copies to Messrs Blair, Brown and Rhodri Morgan. Not that they'll take a blind bit of notice of you.

They will only take notice when you place your X on the ballot paper for Plaid Cymru. Take a leaf out of the Scots who had the good sense to vote for the SNP, and gave Labour, the LibDems and the Tories a kick in the backside in 2010.

Only then will things start to get better for you and for the rest of us in Wales, who face an even more miserable future otherwise.

glynbeddau said...

I agrre; But Plaid must accept some blame because for the first 10 years of Devolution or so .they seemed to be content with working within the system and not rocking the boat by fighting for more powers,

maen_tramgwydd said...

Of course, Glyn, that goes without saying. I opposed the deal with Labour, and Plaid is paying the price for it now. The powers referendum gain was more apparent than real, as your comment today illustrates too well.

In the final analysis it's down to us in Wales to get our country sorted out. Plaid has to get its act together, as it is the only vehicle that can take is in the right direction and I feel that under Leanne Wood that it is doing just that. However, it must sooner or later defeat Labour at the ballot box, and it must have the stomach to undertake that confrontation. Hitherto it has baulked at it. No colonised country has ever achieved independence without confrontation with its imperial power, and Wales is no exception. The Labour and Tory parties are the embodiment of that imperial power.

Anonymous said...

According to Subject 12 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 the following matters for Local Government are devolved: Constitution, structure and areas of local authorities, and Electoral arrangements for local authorities.
Whereas Electoral Registration & Administration are not.

I would assume changing the electoral system for local government from FPTP to STV comes under electoral arrangements rather than electoral administration, are probably far more likely to be in the Assembly's competence than the Organ Donation Bill.

Of course the Welsh Government & Labour party are going to say otherwise because they want to keep FPTP. But could the Welsh Tories actually be persuaded? I know that sounds mad, but when you consider that STV would actually boost the number of tory councillors in Wales it may not be that impossible.
For example if Monmouthshire, Newport,& Torfaen all merge into one council, then that council will almost certainly be a labour stronghold, the tory support in Monmouthshire would be outnumbered.