I've only just gotten round to reading Jonathan Morgan's speech that he gave recently at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre. As was pointed out at the time, he certainly makes many an interesting point, and I do like the fact that he’s forward thinking and that he is confident enough to criticize his own party where he thinks they’ve gotten it wrong in the past. I hate people who slavishly follow the party line because they’re too scared to rock the boat in case they scupper their chances of promotion. Yes, unity is strength and division is weakness but it is important that people stick to the principles that got them elected in the first place. Reading the speech, you can’t help but be struck by his passion for developing his party in Wales and enforcing real change. This is evident in the following quote:
"Soon, the question of whether to allow a referendum on further powers to the Assembly will fall to a Conservative Government. Generally, as my wife will testify, I sleep well at night. However, I do occasionally have the following nightmare…
The Welsh Assembly Government ask for a referendum in Autumn 2010 and the Assembly votes in favour to request one;
The recently appointed Conservative Secretary of State attempts to veto the request and rule out a referendum in the first term of a Conservative Government;
The people of Wales are denied their say for at least five years – how anti-Welsh would the voters think that?
Of course this wouldn’t be a nightmare for our opponents – to some of them, it would be the dream scenario.
Saying ‘NO’ to a referendum request would mean denying the people of Wales a vote on this vital issue. This would be as unjust as Labour’s refusal to allow a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
This is not localism. This would be telling the people of Wales to be silent and listen to their betters in Westminster.
How arrogant would that make us look?"
However, no matter how interesting and persuasive Morgan’s arguments may be, you can’t help but be struck by one thing when reading the speech – can the Welsh Conservatives truly become a more autonomous organization as he suggests? No matter how hard people like Morgan try, the truth is that the Welsh Conservatives will always be tied to and influenced by London. They won’t ever be able to escape from their shadows, and I believe that the Welsh Conservatives who are pro-devolution need to face up to that fact and take a bold step: set up a new party in Wales to represent the right. That’s the only way Morgan’s vision for the right in Wales can be achieved and I wish that he’d consider proposing such an idea. I would never be a member, obviously, but in terms of making devolution work, I think it would be a progressive step and would make them a far more credible opposition party. Currently, it's difficult not to judge the Conservatives in Wales who seem genuinely pro-devolution for the general unionist belief of their party. It just doesn’t ring true. A new party would be able to do the same as Plaid Cymru – put the people of Wales first without being restricted/ bullied/ supervised by a London master. Surely, it's an option worth considering?
A Senedd with greater powers will need new political parties that aren't tied to another parliament. Otherwise it ultimately won't work. Plaid Cymru will also need to rise to the challenge and decide what its main objectives and focus will be once a proper Parliament is up and running. I think we have some interesting times ahead in Welsh politics over the next decade or so! At least, I hope so...