Friday, 5 December 2014

Does Carwyn want Tax Powers or Not.

Some may agree that Income Tax being devolved to Wales with or without the "Lockdown" is a Tory Trojan Horse designed to make the Welsh and Scottish Governments  take the blame when Taxes go up 
It is a compelling argument but is it a reason to reject these powers 
I maybe the reason  First Minister Carwyn Jones  has said there should be a referendum on income tax powers for Wales.
Mr Jones said he “would not be in favour” of any more referendums that look at devolving power, with the exception of the issue of income tax.
He said that “on balance” such a referendum would need to be held in Wales, but he added: 
“I’m vary wary of any suggestion, leaving aside what I said on income tax, that somehow every change in Wales needs to be approved by a referendum. That’s not what was said in Scotland.”
Mr Jones has stated that reform to the Barnett formula must come before such a poll
My suspicion is Labour hope that these powers will be rejected even if they seem to be campaigning for them.
Opposition Leaders however have indicated there is no need for referendum

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, said:
 “Given there will be some tax powers offered, in all likelihood, to the English regions now without the need for a referendum, we would argue that changes the picture for Wales. Tax powers should be able to be triggered by the representatives of the people of Wales via this institution.”
And as La Pasionaria Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, points  out 
: “The principal of having some tax varying powers here is absolutely the right one... I really wonder whether that is necessary especially if all political parties put it in their manifestos in May and people were elected on the basis of that.”
Of course  this argument may fall apart  if Ukip enters the Assembly in 2016 with members whose intention is to wreck that institution . I would be interesting  (but frighting) if Carwyn looked to Nigel Farage to tel his members  to back a referendum)
Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative leader, said he was “opened minded” on the question of an income tax referendum and said he wasn’t a huge fan of referendums but highlighted that a question on tax had been put to the Scottish electorate in the past. Which is true it was a separate Question in the 1997 referendum
ChoiceVotes %
Referendum passed I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament1,775,04574.29
I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament614,40025.71
Valid votes2,389,44599.50
Invalid or blank votes11,9860.50
Total votes2,401,431100.00
Registered voters and turnout3,973,67360.4
It was still passed by a clear majority  but down by some 10%
ChoiceVotes %
Referendum passed I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers1,512,88963.48
I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers870,26336.52
Valid votes2,383,15299.21
Invalid or blank votes19,0130.79
Total votes2,402,165100.00
Registered voters and turnout3,973,67360.45
To this date no Scottish Government has used these powers.

But the 2nd question was bolstered by the first and we can only wonder how many people would bother to vote in a Welsh referendum  especially if there is a half-hearted campaign by Labour.
On this basis I would not support another referendum unless it was for complete parity with Scotland.


  1. The answer is no, Carwyn wants to be offered everything the Scots are, which despite the press spin on the Smith Commission is very little, so that he and Labour in Wales can pretend they are in favour of devolving tax powers while rejecting anything that doesn't get them maximum party advantage.

  2. You ask a very pertinent question Glyn and afraid we have to concur with bored with labour in that the answer to this question would appear to be an emphatic No! What's ironic is that only recently Carwyn Strangelove was chiding political opponents on a debate about with the rebuke that it was 'England's money' we were arguing about. Yet when he's presented with a clear opportunity to reduce Wales reliance on largess from Westminister he trys to put as many obstacles in front of it as he can.

    Firstyly he wont even consider the matter of income tax varying powers for Wales unless what he calls 'fair funding' for Wales is addressed ie the barnett formula is changed. Yet he knows perfectly well this is not going to happen - lets face it his own party was in power at westminister for 13 years and did nothing about it.

    Secondly even if that sizeable hurdle which he and welsh labour have erected can be overcome he is also insisting that a referendum must take place on the question of wales gaining powers to vary income tax. Yet as every other poitical leader in the senedd has pointed out there is no good reason why such a referendum should be held - english regions may be given such powers by the british government. Further if support for wales gaining income tax varying powers is in each party's manifesto in 2016 that would negate any so caled 'constitutional reasons' for holding a referendum on this question.

    We also need to understand that such a referendum wont be easy to win - after all its never easy to get people to vote for something which could see them paying more in tax. Polling on this question is close, so its not impossible that such a referendum could be won. But if welsh labour arent fully behind such a campaign we know from past experience how difficult winning a campaign on devolution in Wales can be. We all know about the horrors of 1979, but lets not forget 1997 also - when another 'gang of six' of welsh labour mps very nearly suceeded in wrecking devolution for Wales once again.

    There is an upside to all this however. If welsh labour arent careful they could find themselves behind the welsh public on the issue of further devolution for wales, just as scottish labour have found in recent months. So in 18 months time a lot of us on the progressive left of welsh politics could very well find oursleves faced with a very interesting dilemna - if between them plaid the lib dems and the welsh tories have got a workable majority in the senedd would we support a revival of the previously mooted 'rainbow alliance' in order to bring income tax varyng powers to wales?