I had a phone call earlier today asking me to go on Radio 5 Live’s ‘Drive Time’ programme to talk about the report of the All Wales Convention. I was happy to agree, and glad that implementation of the King Review meant that the BBC on a UK-wide level was taking Wales, and Welsh devolution, seriously.
Just as I was about to walk into the studio, I got a call from the producer saying that they wanted to talk about the Calman Commission instead – the limited reference to implementing it in the Queen’s Speech, and criticism of that by the Scottish Government. Given the criticisms of both the Calman process and the Calman report – covered in full in its reponse – this is no wonder. Essentially this is a London story – a lame UK Government position, partly justifiable for practical reasons given the complexity of implementing the Calman tax recommendations (but only partly), and an off-the-peg SNP response – with little genuinely new in it. By contrast, of course, the All Wales Convention report is new and important, particularly for Wales but for the UK as a whole as well.
I’m happy to talk about Calman, its strengths and weaknesses, and Scottish constitutional debates at pretty much any time, and did so. But it’s telling that what’s really a non-story with a bit of superficial novelty to it can derail more serious consideration of other aspects of devolution.