"Pessimists about politics might consider the following facts. Thirty one years ago yesterday, St David's Day 1979, Welsh voters humiliatingly rejected the Callaghan government's Wales devolution act in a referendum by 79.8% to 20.2%. Nearly two decades on, however, Welsh voters narrowly supported the Blair government's Wales devolution act in a new referendum by 50.3% to 49.7%. Today, according to a St Davids Day BBC Wales/ICM poll, only 13% of Welsh voters now want to see the Welsh assembly abolished, while only 18% are satisfied with the limited powers conferred on the assembly in 1998. Most Welsh people would like to see not less or no devolution - but more. By 56% to 35% they say they would vote for an assembly with full legislative powers in a referendum now scheduled for next year.
"As turnarounds in public opinion go, this is a pretty spectacular one. Opposition to devolution in Wales has gone from 80% to 13% in the space of a little over a generation. At a time when anger with politicians in general and those at Westminster in particular is running high, it is worth drawing some of the lessons. One is that Westminster's expenses scandal has created a potent opportunity for advocates of stronger devolution and local government to gain a hearing. Another is that it pays to keep on pushing for democratic reforms of all kinds."