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Devolution: A Process Not an Event

1999

Devolution: A Process Not an Event

More than any other contemporary politician Ron Davies is responsible for the devolution process in the 1990s. From 1992 he had a responsibility for developing Labour's policy in opposition and from May 1997 until his resignation  in October 1998 he turned the policy blueprint into a constitutional reality. He drafted the White Paper, A Voice for Wales and led the referendum campaign which saw a narrow Yes vote on September 18th 1997 - a 30 per cent shift from the vote on St David's day 1979. As Secretary of State for Wales he took the devolution legislation through its parliamentary stages and on 31st July 1998 the Government of Wales Act reached the statute books. 

There could be no more qualified person, therefore, to be asked to search out some of the significant political trends from that process and see what pointers they give us for the future. In this Paper Ron Davies traces the background debates on devolution over the latter part of the 20th Century and how they have reflected differing views about Welsh identity. He discusses the way the present settlement emerged through the Welsh Labour Party policy process. He suggests a number of lessons should be learned from that experience which, if they had been adopted at the time, would have resulted in a more inclusive process and a stronger consensus around the change. 

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