Herding cats?

In the light of developments on devolution in Scotland and in Greater Manchester, where the Conservatives want to devolve health spending, some of the subjects like sewerage and speed limits included in the St David's Day package appear small fry.

As one party insider told me this is the lowest of the lowest common denominator anyone could find.

Fracking is hugely controversial but devolving it appears to be relatively uncontroversial, as have been some of the powers relating to the assembly itself.

I'm told that in some quarters the biggest winner in all of this is felt to be the assembly's presiding officer Dame Rosemary Butler who has lobbied Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb harder than anyone.

It means that in future the assembly will be in control of its size, its name and how old the people are who can vote for its members.

The truth is the AMs and MPs weren't even close to a deal on welfare, criminal justice and policing. How could they be on such huge issues when they couldn't agree on teachers' pay and conditions when education is already devolved?

Much to the annoyance of Plaid and the Lib Dems, the Conservatives and Labour are unwilling to go down some of the same routes for Wales as the Smith Commission in Scotland.

A key question will be whether Stephen Crabb has oversold this process. He and other Conservatives have been quoted as saying it will end the constitutional debate, something which is clearly not going to take place.

His main sales pitch is that if it wasn't for him, none of this would have happened - or, as he put it to me, he has "taken these proposals out of the freezer" and given them some life.

And to be fair it couldn't have been an easy job trying to build a consensus among MPs and AMs. The phrase herding cats comes to mind.

I suspect the parties will welcome the main elements but that is where the politeness will end. We're so close to a general election that it won't be in anyone's interests to make any of the other parties look good.

Labour have already been dismissive, pointing out that there's nothing cross-party about a package of powers being announced when David Cameron and the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg are attending their respective Welsh party conferences.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones isn't even in the country. It's ironic that after devoting so many of his major speeches to the constitution since last September, on the day of a major announcement on that very issue, he's ringing the bell at the New York stock exchange to promote Wales in the US.

And where does it all leave the Conservatives' desire to devolve income tax? The prime minister believes the safeguards to the assembly's budget remove the last barrier to a referendum on income tax. There are deep concerns from Labour about devolving this tax and that resistance is unlikely to change.

One final key question from this process concerns Labour and the extent of the divisions within the party on devolution.

Speak to any of the opposition parties at the assembly, as I have done over the past few days, and they all tell you that one of the striking features of the cross-party talks was the divergence between Carwyn Jones and Owen Smith on a number of key issues.

For the record, Labour in the past have always maintained that difference is overstated.

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