Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Stephen Crabb and the "Three Card Trick"

Most of you will are familiar with the Three Card Trick  a confidence game in which the victim, or mark, is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the money card among three face-down playing cards. 

I was reminded of it when considering  Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb new devolution proposals which purports to strengthen devolution but in which Mr Crabb claims   that it is “entirely reasonable” for Welsh ministers to be required to seek the consent of UK ministers if new Welsh laws sought to “impose new duties or functions on UK ministers”.

The Wasting Mule Online has the news that Plaid Cymru and Labour politicians have warned the Wales Office against assuming that the Assembly will consent to changes in the devolution settlement unless strong concerns about a “veto” for UK ministers are tackled.

Plaid Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said there is the potential for a “major constitutional crisis” if the UK Government pushes ahead with legislation which does not win the consent of a majority of AMs.

 He argues that the draft Wales Bill would give UK ministers veto powers over Welsh legislation and this would undermine the settlement put in place after the 2011 referendum. First Minister Carwyn Jones has also warned of an “English veto”.

Mr Edwards said:

 “Because they are undermining the 2011 settlement with the veto powers that is a major, major issue... So I think they are being extremely naive if they think they are going to get this through, that we’ll make a lot of noise and shut up.
“If those veto powers stay I think it will be voted down.”

Warning of “hardening hearts and minds”, he said:

 “I think they are being very naive if they think it will just go through the Assembly. There’s a huge potential here for a major constitutional crisis...
“[It] is so inferior compared with what’s being offered to Scotland and
Cautioning the UK Government against legislating to change the settlement without the Assembly’s consent, he said: “It would be unheard of, wouldn’t it, imposing a constitutional settlement on Wales against the will of the National Assembly. That would have significant constitutional implications.
“It would smack of the actions of a governor general, wouldn’t it, completely imposing something on the Assembly that there is no majority in the Assembly in favour of.
“Who knows what the political repercussions of that would be?

The possibility that Labour are also planing to vote against consent in the assembly was highlighted  when Shadow cabinet office minister Wayne David said there was a “distinct possibility” the legislation would not win consent and warned the Wales Bill could suffer the same fate as Nick Clegg’s bid to reform the House of Lords.

However, Mr David claimed the Wales Office have been “too clever by half”.

He said: 

They have [drafted the legislation] in a way which allows them rhetorically to say, ‘Well, you have more powers; you have [moved] towards the Scottish model’ but in reality it gives them an enormous amount of power so they are having their cake and eating it. Things are not what they might appear to be.”
Stressing the need for cross-party consent, he said: “All constitutional change at the end of the day has to rely on the consent of not just your supporters but of your opponents as well. Going back, that was one of the huge failures with the reform of the Lords legislation.
“Not only did Clegg not have the support of the Conservative MPs, he had the opposition of Labour as well... It’s the same with the Wales Bill.
“The Government can’t blindly push ahead with their own particular pet scheme... They need to have certainly the consent at a very [minimum] level of the Welsh Government and the opposition in Westminster which they clearly haven’t got.”
Though we can only wonder why Labour haven't been more vocal in the Commons over this con trick?
One would suspect the Liberal Democrats in the Assembly would also be minded not to consent to the Bill only leaving the Tories and maybe even that is not guaranteed.

Wayne  David's "too clever by half" claim is apt Mr Crabb has tried to push forward a Bill that weakens not strengthens the Assembly whilst claiming the exact opposite .

His obvious contempt  for those seeking further devolution has been shown by the fact that he didn't believe people couldn't see through his version of the 

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