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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Hain’

MPs arriving at this morning’s meeting of the Welsh Grand committee were met with a frosty reception – from the room itself.

In fact it was so cold that one of my pens stopped working.

But that didn’t stop the MPs trying to generate their own heat.  This was better natured than the last time they met, but still bad-tempered. Some of the loud mutterings I picked up from the Labour benches were “waffle”, “central office rubbish” and a lot of variations on “disgraceful.”

Amidst the exchanges, there were some details to seize hold of. On funding reform and it’s link to a referendum the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Justine Greening, told MPs what Danny Alexander told AMs last week that “the priority for us is to sort out the deficit.”

Unlike Mr Alexander though she said that “We’ll be looking to see what happens in Wales (i.e the powers referendum) and on that basis taking it forward.”

Well that got them leaping to their feet: was this an admission that funding reform IS after all linked to the referendum outcome?

No, said Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, it’s a reiteration of the coalition commitment to a “Calman-style process” after a referendum.

On the controversial delay to electrification of the railway line from London to South Wales, Mrs Gillan said she remains “fully supportive” of the idea, but more work needs to be done on producing a full business case.

That will come as a surprise, by the way, to Assembly Govt politicians who believe that the business case was already developed by the Whitehall department responsible.

Just time to mention a few of the lighter moments.

The pantomime moment came when Mrs Gillan said “I’m not some kind of viceroy.”

“Oh yes you are,” said serial heckler Chris Ruane MP.

She had her revenge on him later by telling him, when he wanted to intervene, ‘Just sit down.’

And Peter Hain used the hitherto unpoliticised songs of Ken Dodd to predict the UK government’s trajectory. 

The link is tenuous: Ken Dodd’s first big hit was ‘Happiness’; the UK government is said to be planning to measure happiness.

Mr Hain noted that Ken Dodd’s subsequent hits were “Tears” and then “Hearbreak.”

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Peter Hain has changed his mind about the chances of a Yes vote succeeding in next year’s referendum on strengthening the powers of the Assembly.

You may remember that, when he was Welsh Secretary, Mr Hain repeatedly expressed his doubts about holding a referendum because it wasn’t “winnable.”

In this speech just over a year ago he said,

“Unless public opinion shifts significantly, it is clear to me that a referendum held before or in 2011 would be lost.”

When I interviewed him for tonight’s Sharp End,  I asked him if he’d changed his mind since last year.

The answer is yes: he does now think those who support further powers can win the referendum, although he thinks it’ll still be ‘a hard slog.’

So what was different last year?  In part, he said, he didn’t think a Yes vote would be possible because of “an anti-politics feeling” as a result of the expenses scandal.

We also spoke about Mr Hain’s new role in re-organising the Labour party.

His defence of the leadership and comments about the way he reckons Labour lost touch with its own members and the public have been reported elsewhere.

I wanted to know more about that and whether or not he’d be able to devote enough time to his job as Shadow Welsh Secretary.

Find out what he had to say in tonight’s Sharp End just after 11pm on ITV1 Wales.

 

 

 

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