If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wales Votes To ... er ...

I posted a while ago about the referendum in Wales on further powers for the Welsh Assembly. Well, yesterday we voted, and today we got the results: a resounding tinkle, as N F Simpson might have said.

In terms of the democratic process, the result is a clear victory for the Yes campaign - two to one in favour - and this is how the mainstream media and the parties involved are playing it. "An old nation has come of age", as Carwyn Jones confusingly put it. It takes an old curmudgeon like me to think that the result is anything but clear.

Yes: 63.5%
No: 36.5%
Turnout: 35.4%

It's all about the turnout. In the 1997 referendum which paved the way for the establishment of the Assembly, turnout was a poor 50.1%. Yesterday, that slumped to 35.4%. What that says to me is that two out of three Welsh people couldn't be bothered enough to get off their arses to vote for something they don't really see the relevance of.

Looked at this way, we have the following breakdown:

Voted Yes: 22%
Voted No: 13%
Not bothered enough to leave the house: 65%

That's the BBC's "resounding yes".

I voted 'No' on the principle that it is madness to vote to give politicians any more power than they already have. 78% of my adopted countrymen would seem to agree.

The voting process was the strangest and least clear that I have ever experienced. The question on the ballot paper was:
The National Assembly for Wales: what happens at the moment

The Assembly has powers to make laws on 20 subject areas, such as:

The Environment
Local Government

In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the Assembly must ask the UK Parliament for its agreement. The UK Parliament then decides each time whether or not the Assembly can make these laws.

The Assembly cannot make laws on subject areas such as defence, tax or welfare benefits, whatever the result of this vote.

If most voters vote “yes”, the Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. If most voters vote “no”, what happens at the moment will continue.

Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?
Inside the polling station there were several sheets pinned to the walls giving further information, such as the full list of 20 subject areas, but even those didn't explain what laws could or could not currently be made in Cardiff and which would be available to the Assembly in the event of a Yes vote. You would have had to go out looking for that yourself, as it wasn't available in any campaign literature that I saw. In fact, apart from the glossy "you are going to have a referendum" booklet, nothing came to the house at all, and there was very little sign of the Yes and No campaigns anywhere to be seen in public spaces. I heard no-one - literally no-one - discussing the issues beforehand.

I tell a lie: on the day of the referendum, as he was leaving work, our minibus driver told me he would be voting 'No', because it was "all bollocks".

Wales has spoken.


  1. Here Here - I can hear that "All bollocks" in that lovely welsh accent!

  2. more non-job jobs for the boyos, paid for by the apathetic.

  3. It is something when you watch the Assembly at work and they make Westminster politicians look intelligent and serious.

  4. That's not a question, it's a speech in favour of the motion.


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