With the recruitment process for the Executive of the Convention now in progress (soporific, claims Ordovicius), we will presumably soon know who the four parties are to appoint as their nominees. For all the talk about involvement and participation, the final decision will be a political one, and these four appointments are critical in determining whether the parties do, or do not, sign up to the inevitable decision to postpone the referendum.
With the obvious splits in their ranks, Labour will do whatever they can to avoid having a referendum in the agreed timescale, so will be looking for a nominee who can make the right noises about wanting to move ahead, but mutter darkly about the timing.
One might naturally expect Plaid to appoint the most bullish member of the Convention, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them appointing someone who will be willing to back-pedal and agree with Labour, for the sake of avoiding any tension in the coalition. Indeed, that’s precisely what I expect to happen.
The Lib Dems’ appointment will be, like his or her party, largely irrelevant to the process.
The Tory appointment will be perhaps the most interesting of all. Freed of any need for democratic input into the appointment, this appointment will be made by Bourne, and Bourne alone. Despite the opposition to devolution from most of his party and all of his MPs, it is not inconceivable that Bourne will sense that Labour and Plaid are ready to renege on their promise and that could allow him to seize the opportunity to appoint the most enthusiastic devolutionist that he can find.
After all, the Tories won’t have to deliver on any commitment to a referendum – the coalition leaders have already decided that it won’t happen. But it would enable Bourne to outflank Plaid on a key issue. And in terms of positioning for the future, disillusioned Plaid voters are exactly what Bourne is looking for.