Tony in Abercynon
Ensuring a balanced discussion in the devolution debate is key for Tony Luke. He attended the All Wales Convention inaugural public meeting at Port Talbot and intends to go to the family day in Merthyr in May. He is single and in his spare time coaches Rugby Union.
Personally I am not in favour of further law-making powers for the National Assembly, be they primary or secondary legislative powers, as I'm convinced this will only move us closer to talks on independence. Anybody who believes that the question of further powers and independence are not linked, must, in all honesty, be in denial.
I'm certain that nationalists, including prominent Assembly politicians, will use a Yes vote in a referendum as a licence to move to full independence. In my opinion, the demands for a referendum are not coming from the people of Wales, but from the political elite.
Supporters of independence say that the Welsh Assembly Government hasn't got the powers needed to do the job, but I think the political establishment in Wales should be getting on with the job instead of obsessing with getting more powers. Welsh Ministers have pretty much full control over decision-making on many policy areas, which affect the daily lives of the people of this Principality. This includes the Health Service, Education, Transport, and Agriculture.
What I'd like to know is, if the Welsh Assembly Government had more powers, would Welsh residents, who pay tax at the same rate as everyone else in the UK, be waiting months longer for NHS treatment than people in other parts of the United Kingdom? Would more powers mean that instead of fewer than 50% of ambulances responding to a category A emergency call within eight minutes in Wales, we would see 77% of ambulances responding within eight minutes, again as happens elsewhere in the UK?
I firmly believe that the Welsh Assembly Government already has the tools to get on with the job of delivering for the people of Wales. The truth is that the ability to pass endless new legislation doesn't improve the quality of people's lives. Politicians can debate and pass as much legalisation as they like; in no way does it help a pensioner get their hip replacement any quicker or a child to get a good set of qualifications.
I know full well that front line staff - our doctors, nurses and teachers - are fully committed to their professions and are working flat out to deliver the best they can for the people of Wales. The problem is that they are constantly being undermined by the Welsh establishment which, instead of spending money on frontline services, is squandering it on nation building.
It is now time for the political elite to accept that devolution is a process and not an event and get on with doing the job that they were elected to do.