The publication of the Smith Commission adds yet another weighty tone to the growing pile of Westminster produced solutions to the problem of devolution in Scotland. The three London based and Westminster centred political parties have come up with a partial solution to what they perceive as the Scottish problem.
Perception is key here, if you in Scotland your perception of ‘the problem’ is going to be very different to that of the Westminster based parties. Wales needs as wide an array of job creation-levers as possible to help move forward the Welsh economy. Aside form a parity of powers; this must actually mean a parity of resources.
The Barnett formula (deeply flawed as it is) is now effectively enshrined as Westminster’s formula of choice for the allocation of resources to devolved administrations. An unreformed unfair funding formula leaves the Welsh people out of pocket to the tune of some £1.2b billion pounds – this funding gap between Wales and Scotland is yet to be addressed.
The Conservatives, perhaps as a way of destabilising the party formerly known as New Labour, have embraced the touchy issue of English Votes for English Laws. This issue is going to looms large on the horizon before Christmas. It remains clear that, English votes for English laws aside, there is a real need for a symmetrical constitutional settlement for the devolved Parliaments to avoid the creation of 1st and 2nd class MPs.
Historically successive UK Westminster Governments have dealt with constitutional issues on a haphazard basis, largely in the hope that the problem of devolution would go away for a while. The Westminster elite has one chance and one chance only to save the Union following recent events in Scotland.
If the Union is going to work, then there needs to be a comprehensive settlement to fully empowers the devolved Parliaments on an equal basis. The years of waffle, delay and time wasting have been frustrating, but unless a decent devolutionary settlement is delivered and is actually perceived to have been delivered then the Union will remain on a very shaky footing indeed.
Not for the first time the Westminster based political parties are out of touch with what the people of Wales want. A recent YouGov poll reported that 63% of people think Wales should have the same powers as Scotland. Details of Plaid Cymru's vision for the future governance of Wales can be found here: Bringing our Government Home.