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Yes for Wales

by In Wales Wed Jan 5th, 2011 at 04:14:23 PM EST

I'm long overdue a diary about the Yes campaign, calling for the legislative process to be made quicker and more effective, removing the necessity for Wales to get permission from Westminster to pass legislation that only affects Wales.  I've been involved as a photographer, working on the campaign and website images and covering events.  I'm really proud to be able to make such an important contribution to such an important campaign.

For those who won't make it through all of my blatherings, here are the important points:

- We are calling for a more efficient way of creating legislation for Wales. We are not calling for more policy-making powers to be devolved to the Assembly. We are not calling for powers to raise/change taxes. We are not calling for full independence.

 - We want to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the process of making legislation that only affects Wales.

 - This will save us time and money, and free up politicians and civil servants in Wales to get on with their jobs, without being delayed (for years) by jumping through hoops with Westminster.

People should get off their arses and go and vote because it is important that we have a good turnout voting Yes.  Complacency and apathy could lose us the campaign. I'm voting Yes because I believe we need a stronger voice for Wales and I believe that the Assembly is body that should be representing our interests.

From the Yes campaign website www.yesforwales.com:

For the first time ever, all four main Welsh political party leaders are on the same side in a referendum campaign. This is a major achievement and shows the appeal of the common sense agenda that Yes for Wales is united upon: Laws that affect only Wales should be made only in Wales.

Yesterday was the launch of the Yes for Wales campaign, with a press conference being held during the morning and a public launch in the evening, held at the Atrium, Glamorgan University in Cardiff.

Roger Lewis, Chair of the Yes campaign, speaking to the press during the morning.

In the evening was a fabulous event, with 300 plus people from a range of political parties, and a wide variety of backgrounds, including a number of students, and people who are not politically aligned but support the Yes campaign.  We were privileged to hear really passionate speeches from the four main party leaders in Wales along with speeches from ordinary people who are encouraging others to vote yes on March 3rd.

The crowds at the public launch of the Yes campaign. There was a real buzz and positive vibe throughout the event.

Much to my irritation when the chair of the yes campaign was announced and the website launched in December, the media turned the whole issue into a personal attack on individuals involved, quoting chunks from True Wales (the official No campaign), accusing the Yes campaign of using elite, wealthy, crachach to front the campaign.

No mention of the issues around the referendum itself. It was shoddy journalism that lacks integrity.  Frankly, people deserve better than that.  The decision to vote yes or no - the decision to even go out and vote in the first place - is crucially important to the continued development of the National Assembly for Wales and as such, the ability of the Welsh Assembly Government to meet the needs of people in Wales in a timely and effective way.

Fortunately, the hard work of the Yes Campaign seems to be paying off and the messages are getting through, with positive reports on last night's launch across the media.

See Betsan Powys' blog:

That voting 'no' would not mean things would stay as they are. Wales' voice would be weakened. A 'no' vote would hole the Assembly Government below the water-line when it came to negotiating with Whitehall.

A 'yes' vote would strengthen Wales' voice. It would mean laws that affect only Wales would be made only in Wales - "people are uniting behind this simple principle."

A 'yes' vote would allow Assembly Members to get on with the job of "developing Welsh solutions to Welsh problems" - in other words, making decisions that are not necessarily the same as ones made elsewhere - without having to negotiate a legislative system that means they must first get the nod from Westminster.

It would create "a no excuses culture". There'd be less of an opportunity for politicians in Cardiff Bay to duck and dive and blame MPs if the going got tough. They'd have to focus on delivery and explain why if they failed. This would "raise the bar" for the Assembly.

We have unity across the political parties but most importantly we need to enagage those who don't consider themselves to be political.  

The leaders of the four main political parties in Wales are united on the Yes campaign.

My previous roles with Wales-based organisations all opened my eyes to how increasingly different Wales has become from England/Westminster in terms of it's policy decisions, values and in how close it is to the people it serves.  Most people probably don't see this.  They don't see that without the Assembly, we'd be in a much worse position through lack of representation and lack of understanding of the issues our communities are facing.  Those differences between the Assembly and Westminster are crucial in meeting the specific needs of Wales and the diversity of communities within it.  The Welsh Assembly Government in it's structure and constitution is driven by the values of equality, fairness and social justice. Ordinary people can sit and give evidence to Assembly committees. The views and experiences of ordinary people are listened to by our politicians and it does influence policy decisions.  That isn't the case in Westminster.

The argument from the No campaign seems to be that the Assembly has done a rubbish job all round. In particular they are attacking the Assembly for underfunding education. Do they really believe we'd all be better off without the Assembly?  That Westminster would have prioritised education far more than the Assembly has, with better outcomes? That Westminster would also have understood and acted effectively on all the other issues that impact on people in Wales? I think not. They call for 'true devolution' but don't articulate what that is, they just claim that what they are calling for, isn't what we have. In my view it's a straw man argument, especially from a group calling themselves True Wales, to essentially be saying that Wales shouldn't seek an easier way of enabling decisions to be taken forward.  

As the Deputy First Minister and leader of Plaid Cyrmu stated in his speech last night, "I have yet to hear a plausible reason to vote `no' in this referendum."

Vote Yes for Wales on March 3rd

Feel free to ask for clarification on anything Wales-specific that you aren't familiar with.

For reference, "crachach" is a Welsh word referring to the political, wealthy and powerful elite of Wales.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 5th, 2011 at 04:30:13 PM EST
Being a child of the 70s, Yes for Wales suggested a gig involving very long complex songs performed by high voiced male singers and keyboard players wearing capes.

but i suspect I'm alone in that

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 5th, 2011 at 05:18:22 PM EST
No mention of the issues around the referendum itself. It was shoddy journalism that lacks integrity.

Who Could Have Predicted?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 5th, 2011 at 05:19:11 PM EST
There's quite a bit (including on the Yes site) of wanting decisions about Wales to be taken in Wales, and avoiding bureaucracy, which is always further off and higher up the chain of command -- though it's understandable that Westminster may chafe on Welsh spirits. But what's the attitude to the EU in this campaign?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 02:00:35 AM EST
To be honest, the EU isn't part of this debate.  There's no anti-EU sentiment from the Assembly's point of view. EU regulations have been useful to us and embraced, as have UN Conventions.

See this list of areas where the Assembly has power to legislate on.  We already focus on the best way to take policy forward in Wales, within the context of working with UK and EU level policy.

The Yes campaign is about creating an easier, quicker, more efficient process by which the Welsh Assembly can pass legislation.  At the moment, it is passed here and then has to be approved via the LCO (Legislative Competence Order) process at Westminster (which includes the House of Lords).

The call for a stronger voice is due to the need to repesent Welsh interests with more autonomy.  We've had a sympathetic Government that has allowed us to take our own direction.  Although this campaign is cross party, it is true that any Tory  or Tory-led Government is going to be able to impede the (socialist) Assembly if they really don't like the legislation we are trying to pass.  

Even with support, it can take 3 years to get through the LCO process. It is an appalling waste of time and money. e.g.
Why should I say Yes?

It has taken three years for the Assembly to get powers transferred from Westminster to reform the organ donation system to give a lifeline to people waiting for a new kidney. Even though the policy is widely supported in Wales the Assembly is still waiting for permission to act.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 04:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had to go and check out the opposition.

True Wales - Say No

Our Wales is a beautiful, diverse country which belongs to all who live here. There are many versions
of 'Welshness', all to be respected and celebrated. We believe in equality and fairness for all citizens,
regardless of linguistic preference, ethnicity, faith, political persuasion or gender.

There is no place in our Wales for discrimination or prejudice against any group or country. We value all the settlers who have contributed to our cultural diversity and our shared heritage within the United Kingdom.

English against Welsh devolution?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 02:55:33 PM EST
They are certainly suggesting there's something anti-"settler" in further Welsh devolution. That, somehow, their rights would be better respected if Westminster rules, rather than Cardiff. The foolish thing (apart from the poor choice/revealing slip of the word "settlers") is that their rights are in fact guaranteed by the European Union...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 03:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, the majority of aspirations of True Wales are no different from the aspirations of the Assembly (involving people in the Assembly, working for people of Wales blah blah blah) apart from what seems to be a call for fuller devolution.  But True Wales seem to think the Assembly is dominated by evil power-grabbing, elite politicians.  Of course there are egos and there are 'politicians' but there are some bloody good people in there too, from diverse backgrounds, bringing so much to the table.

When I say that True Wales don't articulate what they would rather see being in place, it is because they don't offer another structure or process, they are just shouting down everything as being bad without acknowledging what has been done well.  

So without any reasonable argument to put forward, they are perpetuating myths and shouting out unevidenced statements.  To have an official yes campaign, there must be an official no campaign in the interests of balance.  The result is that 'neutral' media like the BBC must give equal coverage for both yes and no, giving the impression that there is much more support for the no campaign than there really is, and giving them further platform to misinform people.

Ridiculous, and no substance to their arguments.   They want a less centralized Assembly - it already is quite widely spread across the country - and they argue that costs should be reduced.  The two don't go together.

I could go on but...

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 03:46:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading their page my uninformed impression is that they do not offer an alternative, because they do not want a devolution. However saying they do not want a devolution would be a loss, so they claim to be for another unspecified devolution, preferably without politicians. Looking at their arguments, devolution is bad because it is costly, non-english and might lead to an independent Wales.

Ignoring the cost argument, it is articulating the fear of becoming an english minority in a welsh majority. So I would say they are targeting the segment that share such a fear.

Unless there are lots of english in Wales who fear the welsh, I would say that with opponents like these the yes campaign most do a very poor campaign to loose.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 6th, 2011 at 05:28:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So long as people go out and vote, the yes campaign should be fine.  There is popular support for the yes vote providing people are not horribly misinformed about the issues - which is what the No campaign are doing.

The Western Mail has an article today covering UKIPs complaint of how the yes campaign's use of a headteacher as an ordinary and non-political person, constitutes using children for political means (because schoolchildren are visible in press and publicity shots).

The No campaign will keep on throwing mud at us, which may backfire on them but may also damage us because people can be much more receptive to negative messages than positive ones.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 7th, 2011 at 03:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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