The second question that has to be asked is: Who on earth will run the No campaign this time round? The Electoral Commission gets to decide which No group is to be the "official" one they will be seriously hindered this time round by the fact that there will be no major party to start the campaign. Highlights of the 1997 count gave us Michael Ancram and Nick Bourne (how times have changed!) telling us how bad devolution would be - who will be the criticiser in chief this time round? It seems that the No campaign will have to be lead by Labour Welsh MP's who desperately tried to stop the One Wales Coalition and their Tory counterparts.Well David Davies MP has decided that he wants to be the No campaign's knight on a white horse and has declared that he will be launching the No campaign. He has already had what he describes as "tentative talks with one ex-Labour MP" (in other words - Llew Smith!) and he's open to suggestions for a name for the No campaign. His personal favorite is "Wales for the Union".
As someone who will vote, and probably do some campaigning, for the Yes campaign my reaction to this news is: BRILLIANT!
Firstly it will hopefully jolt Labour and Plaid Cymru to actually move on the issue and set up the Yes campaign. While the All Wales Convention trundles along anyone with a calendar can see that by the time they finish there won't be much times for a campaign and vote before 2011 so let's get the ball rolling on the campaigning side.
Secondly, it's David Davies, the eternal clown of Welsh politics. The very fact that he wants to call the campaign "Wales for the Union" shows how out of touch the man is. While the Yes/No split is relatively close at the moment, the way to bolster the Yes vote is certainly not to make voters think that they're voting for the Union if they vote No. The way to convince people to vote No is to say that it is a vote for Wales, to protect Wales, to improve Wales - not to tell them that they're voting for the Union. If David Davies starts printing posters with "Wales for the Union. Vote No" on them then all the Yes campaign need to do to win is print posters with "Wales for Wales. Vote Yes" and they'll have the referendum in the bag!
Finally, it's David Davies (yes I know I've already said that but bear with me!). As I explained in my previous post the Electoral Commission will have to chose a campaign group to be the official group. David Davies is clearly angling to be the man who leads the group. For a strong No campaign he will need cross party support. Clearly there is cross party support for a No campaign, at least Tory/Labour - I'm not as confident as David is that he'll have the support of many Lib Dems, but how many of those will want to be linked to David Davies? While Llew Smith may well be happy to throw his hat in, how will Chris Bryant or Ian Lucas feel about getting into bed with their Tory counterparts?