The more I think about the referendum, the more I realize that this was only ever placed on the GoW Act to ensure the continued survival of Welsh Labour.
In the same way as the issue of dual candidacy in the regional list seats was nothing more than a cheap trick to gain short term political advantage, the requirement for a referendum to be triggered only after a 66% vote in the assembly is nothing more than blatant political chicanery.
Labour has corrupted one of the most important pieces of Westminster legislation in decades for their personal survival and demonstrates that they simply can not be trusted to operate in the best interests of Wales (as if anyone doubted differently!!).
Plaid should stop sucking up to Labour and tell them straight – if you want to stay in power in Wales (albeit in coalition) then you must amend the GoW Act to:
1) Allow dual candidacy (good enough for Scotland – why not Wales)
2) Remove the requirement for a 66% vote (50% works for Westminster – why not the Senedd)
3) Remove the right of veto by the Secretary of State for Wales, Westminster & House of Lords (this is a matter for the people of Wales to decide)
And if Labour say no?? Then get the Welsh Conservatives to give the same commitment as a pre-condition for the Rainbow Alliance. The 66% vote is the main sticking point but this requirement could be removed by a David Cameron government in Westminster, and Welsh Labour would lose its stranglehold!!!!!!
There are those who suggest that we scrap the requirement for a referendum altogether – I am sympathetic to this view, but I think that it would secure more credibility for the parliament. I also have no doubt that a referendum would be won, providing that we are careful with the timing.
Firstly we must make sure that the referendum does not get mixed up with any possible Scottish independence referendum. There are many in Wales who would accept a full Parliament, but who are not yet ready for independence (Note that I said not yet – they will come around), and they would certainly get confused by the massive media blitz coming out of London.
Secondly we must ensure that the referendum does not become a popularity contest on the government of the day (whether in London or Cardiff). This probably means that it should not be held for the next 6 months, but that it also avoids the next Westminster elections by 6 months either side.
Personally I would time the referendum to coincide with the Euro elections in 2009. Apart from improving the turnout, it should also make voters realize that we live in a multilayered democracy – It is not just Westminster or bust – and that the new Senedd is a more appropriate level for our decision making.
This also gives sufficient time to get the new Parliament established for 2011.
On a purely personal level, I would then consider standing in those elections with the intention of driving the next step forward – an Independent Wales by 2020 - but that is a story for another day...