Thursday, 4 September 2008

Blue on blue

It has hardly come as a surprise to anyone that David Davies MP has decided to set up a ‘cross-party’ campaign against further devolution to Wales. Nor should it come as any surprise to anyone that he is planning to base his campaign on dishonestly equating devolution and independence and on the equally dishonest notion that Wales is inevitably and permanently stuck in a state of poverty which only handouts from our rich English neighbours can alleviate.

Dishonest it may be – and we should not expect less of him, given his previous form – but there is plenty of historical evidence that simple dishonest messages can work. It’s a trick which should not be underestimated.

The leader of the Tories in the Assembly – a man who has the same exalted status in the party apparently as their leader on Cardiff City Council – has issued a pretty mild public rebuke. Reading between the lines, however, he is considerably less exercised about whether what Davies says is right or wrong for Wales than about whether Davies might actually try and co-operate with the devil incarnate, aka members of the Labour Party. He manages to avoid expressing his view on the substance at all, dismissing it as a topic for another day.

Some, such as Guerrilla Welsh Fare, seem to be assuming that, when it comes to the referendum, the Tory group in the Assembly at least will join the ‘yes’ campaign, and that Davies is out of step. I’m far from convinced. It’s no accident that the Tories have yet to respond to the Lord Roberts review of their policy. It could mean one of two things in my view. Either Cameron really thinks that the issue is so unimportant that he doesn’t need to take a position of any sort; or else he wants to keep his options open.

I tend to the latter view. I think that, if Cameron believes that taking an anti-further powers (or even anti-Assembly) stance will boost his chances of getting to Downing Street, then he will not hesitate for a moment. This is no great issue of principle to him (what is?), it’s just part of a game where there is only one prize of any importance. And, if he does decide to follow that track, the rest of his party in Wales will be expected to follow his lead. Oh, I’m sure they’ll find some sort of fudge (“the time isn’t right”, “we need a wider review”), but I am convinced that we will find the Conservative Party in Wales throwing its weight behind the ‘no’ campaign sooner or later.

The whole basis of Davies’ proposed campaign may be utterly dishonest; but at least he’s honest in stating where he really stands on the issue, unlike most of his party who are still waiting to be told what they think.


Che Grav-ara said...

I don't assume anything of the sort? My original post stated I believed it would be better if the Tories did back it but certainly I didn’t state I think they necessarily will. If you look at my blog my reaction to Nick Bourne's latest blog entry I am suggesting that he is taking a step away from committing to backing a Yes vote at the referendum.

I do agree with you on the fact that Cameron will make his decision based on getting himself to number 10 not anything else and Bourne and the Assembly group will fall in line in turn. The main problem for Bourne is not that David Davies is undermining his strategy it’s that outbursts like this will eventually force the Tories to get off the fence once and for all.

Ceredig said...


Your post contained the phrase "...when they see Nick Bourne campaigning for further powers ...". I'm afraid that I took that to mean that you were assuming that Nick Bourne and the Assembly Tories would indeed be campaigning for more powers. Apologies for reading more into this than you intended.

lionelair said...

david davies is a class A cock in any case. This is no surprise, though I would have expected Dong Toubig and Emperor Kinnock of High Principles to have beaten him to start up the Brit Nat defence campaign. Still it's here now and we must deal with it. Good Luck Nick Bourne, I wish you well as the Tory MPs line up on one side of the fence waving the Union Jack and the AMs on the other.

Che Grav-ara said...

What I meant was that Nick Bourne seemingly campaigns for further powers at the moment with his support for it (in order to lure Plaid supporters). The decision if he will support further powers at a referendum is possibly not up to him to make. Clearly I wasn't clear on that. sorry

alanindyfed said...

The British parties cannot be relied on to support further (total?) devolution.
The only way is to argue and campaign for a "yes" vote until the majority is in favour.