1. Wales

Welsh Political Awards: New opinion poll unveiled

The annual Welsh Political Awards have taken place at Cardiff City Hall. The Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd won Politician of the Year for her campaign to improve the way patients are treated in hospital.

View all 7 updates ›

Political veteran's lifetime achievement saluted

The Welsh Political Awards ended with the annual lifetime achievement, which this year went to Lord Elystan Morgan. His political career began in the 1950s when he was a leading figure in Plaid Cymru, standing for Westminster as the candidate in Wrexham and later in Merionnydd.

Elystan Morgan switched to the Labour party to contest his native Ceredigion, then known as Cardiganshire. He became the only Labour MP ever to represent the seat at Westminster, holding it from 1966 to 1974. He is now a cross-bencher in the House of Lords,

He says of his two parties that he remains "no less a nationalist and no less a socialist". He led the 1979 "yes" campaign, when devolution was defeated in a referendum that saw many in Labour campaign for "no" vote. He became a peer in the 1980s but took a break from politics to serve as a judge.

I have been on leave of absence from this House for 19 years, discharging a public duty. I feel like Rip van Winkle, who went hunting in the woods, fell asleep and came back to his village many decades later to find that the whole world had changed.

Having had the melancholy experience of leading the yes campaign in 1979, I think that one should be very wary of polls. There is a great saying, "Place not your trust in princes". I think that we could say, side by side with that, "Place not your trust in opinion polls".

Six months before that referendum was held on 1 March 1979, the yes campaign was a few points ahead, but it descended rapidly to defeat from that point onwards. I doubt very much that the same would ever happen again.

I do not accept that there is anything fundamentally wrong or inconsistent with contemplating that the Welsh people should some day enjoy legislative powers in their Assembly. To say otherwise would be to believe that there should be a circle of steel, as it were, around the prospects of the Welsh people. Who would wish to place such a circle around any other nation?

It would be utterly wrong to consider that there is something so fundamentally strange and flawed in the character of the Welsh nation that it should, for all time, be denied this possibility.

Those who belong to progressive politics may well remind themselves of the words of Keir Hardie, who, a century or so ago, as a Welsh Member of Parliament—he was the Member for Merthyr Tydfil at the time—said, "I sometimes wonder what it is that makes men able to oppose home rule for the land of their birth".

– Lord Elystan-Morgan, speaking on his return to the House of Lordsin 2006

More top news