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Three years of cohabiting

Over three years ago there was a choice to be made, to break the mould of Welsh politics and throw Labour out of office and hope that there was a pot of gold at the end of that particular rainbow.

The other choice was to get into bed with the class warriors and forget the rainbow of colours and simply concentrate on green and red.

As the second largest party it was very much Plaid Cymru’s call. As we all know they decided on Labour and as they say the rest is history.

Well, the agreement has delivered the one prize that Plaid Cymru were really after apart that is from getting their backsides on seats around the cabinet table. Yes, the prize was a referendum on strengthening the law making powers of the National Assembly. However, there is a certain irony in the fact that it is a Conservative Secretary of State that is setting the timetable for said vote.

Cheryl Gillan the new ’˜she’ of Welsh politics has given the Welsh chattering class until the Spring to convince us the great unwashed, that the Assembly really does need these powers and it is really worth all our whiles to trudge out in the cold and vote for such.

’˜She’ and her government will stay strictly neutral on the issue. All the running will be done by Assembly politicians. Yes, they of the Bay will speak almost with one voice in favour of the proposition.

Within the next ten weeks the Electoral Commission will consult on the suitability of the question and the preamble that the Wales office of the Westminster government has sent them. So by the end of Summer we will know exactly what the question and the preamble will be.

Then the campaigning will begin in earnest.

There are two obstacles that those in favour of a ’˜yes’ vote have to overcome. The first is how do you persuade people that a gradualist approach to law making that involves both Westminster and the Assembly should be put aside in favour of the big bang of all the powers resting in Cardiff Bay.

Most people are suspicious of power resting in the hands of too small a group of politicians. And the mantra often heard is that politicians should try working together a bit more. The current settlement is the very embodiment of such.

The second and perhaps biggest problem for the ’˜yes’ campaign is the anti-politics feeling that is abroad in the country. Most punters feel that there should be a plague on all their houses. If politicians are urging you to vote ’˜yes’ the natural response is to vote ’˜no’.

My guess is that if they really want to win, the ’yes’ campaigners should encourage anyone but anyone that is not a politician to be the public face of such a campaign.

Who? ’˜Nessa’ from Gavin and Stacy fame. She’s far to scary to disagree with. Any other suggestions?

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