On Thursday 3rd March, Wales will once again flock to the polling booths to place their votes in the 2011 Welsh referendum and will have a big say in the way future generations of their families are governed. Conveniently taking place just two days after St David’s Day, the occasion will go a long way to determining the current mindset of the Welsh people after years of London-imposed policies have greatly affected the nation and not necessarily for the better. Self-rule or remain on Westminster’s leash? Decisions are to be made.
There is no greater threat to the democracy of a nation than the apathy of the voters, low turnout occasionally helping to transform election results that otherwise may have gone differently had people used their voting right. Such an issue may creep up with this referendum next week, low voter turn out becoming an accepted inevitability due to the confusion and perhaps ignorance of the people about what exactly the vote is for. There appears to be a feeling of nonchalance towards the voting by a vast cross-section of those eligible to voice their opinion via the ballot, many unsure of what the National Assembly for Wales exactly does and how voting will change this. Surely all politicians are merely fiddling their expenses, the Yes vote is for sign-painting nationalists who occupy hillside farms and the No vote is what normal realistic folk who understand how Wales would crumble without England is for?
The reality is of course radically different from the stereotypes the general public may have pictured and for a campaign in which no public funding has been made available it has been hard work to change these opinions although the Yes For Wales group have worked tirelessly through leaf-letting and social media. So why vote Yes?
Perhaps the most clear indicator to the newcomer of why Yes is the correct way to go is by viewing the political allegiances of the campaigns. Whilst the No campaign, entitled TrueWales, encompasses independents and a few rogue Labour and Conservative members the Yes for Wales campaign is headed by a unique and extremely rare alliance of all four major political parties. Perhaps one party can be misguided. But can all four?
Yet what is the vote actually for and why are the parties so eager to throw away traditional rivalry to cooperate for a Yes vote? The current incarnation of the National Assembly for Wales was inaugurated following the 1997 referendum and was created to devolve certain powers from the Welsh Office and Secretary State for Wales to Cardiff. Recognised as a possible tentative step towards further or full law making powers by many, the truth is that the Assembly has remained limited in what it can do and is essentially kept on a close leash by the puppet masters in Westminster. Currently, Scotland and Northern Ireland have the power in their devolved to act without input from the UK Government. Although granted certain decision-making powers in some aspects of Welsh governance, any requests to change laws or to establish new ones must currently be escalated for authorisation by Whitehall, an expensive and time-consuming process that can take years to grant. This process is currently entitled Legislative Competence Orders (LCO) and were introduced four years ago as a way for Wales to propose its own laws in the fields that were devolved to the Assembly a decade ago. The 20 devolved areas that the Welsh Assembly currently has power to propose legislation for includes Education, Health, Tourism, Transport and Agriculture, important subjects that have a direct impact on many Welsh citizen’s lives.
Voting Yes on 3rd March will be enable the Assembly to gloriously consign these restrictive LCO’s to the political scrapheap. Allowing decisions to be made and actioned in the Senedd without begging Whitehall for permission will enable Wales to grow in all aspects, particularly in allowing Welsh laws to be tailored to the needs of Welsh people and implemented instantly as opposed to lengthy three-year hold-up’s at the back of the Whitehall priority queue.
Essentially, voting Yes for Wales will enable the nation to stand on its own two feet as well as allowing the nation more responsibility to govern itself in a way to guarantee Wales receives what Wales needs as opposed to what London allows. Wales needs a stronger voice to help defend her people against the outrageous recent UK Governmental cuts which has severely affected the already suffering working classes of the country. Such vital public services like the Newport Passport Office or environmental projects like the Severn Barrage have been ruthlessly axed from London with no input from the Welsh people affected from such actions. Only Welsh people use the highly regarded S4C channel and in many cases this provides a vital and necessary service to certain sections of the population in a way that BBC1 does for the rest of the nation. This has not prevented the savage cuts imposed on the flagship Welsh language channel from being interfered as there is no one in a suitable capacity with the power to offer a guiding hand.
Wales requires someone to stand up for her, to ensure her political equality within the rabid world that is United Kingdom politics and to ensure the people of Wales receive the fairest deal available. The National Assembly for Wales has many detractors but they have implemented many valuable pieces of legislation, including but not limited to free NHS prescriptions; Free Bus Passes and Student Tuition fee grants for Welsh students. This is next natural step in the progression of devolution. For the first time in a while the Welsh people have the opportunity to empower themselves to protect future generations from mismanagement from Westminster.
John Hartson has said Yes. Shane Williams and the Welsh rugby team has said Yes. Olympic medallist David Davies says Yes. Max Boyce says Yes. So should you. Stand up for Wales. Vote Yes for Wales on March 3rd. Pleidleisiwch Ie dros Gymru ar Fawrth 3ydd.
As you may have gathered from previous articles, I am not a fan of the right wing or of any right leaning ideologies. I am also not a fan of any capitalist strategies that put the working classes at risk of sinking further into poverty and financial obscurity whilst at the same time securing the fortunes of the wealthy minority.
It should come as no surprise therefore to discover the anger that is on the verge of erupting deep within me as daily revelations of the latest ConDem cuts reach my ears. And to think WE, the electorate, invited these people into power! That the UK is in debt is an unavoidable fact, as is the majority of the Western world due to the recent economic crisis. The instant and savage cuts that are being imposed on the nation by this illogical and unreasonable Government are in direct defiance of respected economic evidence, many reports suggesting the large debts are not immediately crippling and can be managed in a more practical and structured method than the dramatic and sudden way it is being implemented at present.
The last month has seen continuous cuts across various services, primarily in the Public Sector. Whilst some have been dedicated more column inches and considered more newsworthy than others, ALL will have an effect on the working class majority of this nation. Many jobs within Public Sector are at severe risk as the Government embarks on its cost cutting exercise; surely adding to the unemployment and thus benefit numbers is not sound governing from the nations leaders?
Local councils across the country are also being ordered to slash spending and also cut costs across a myriad of their operations. I have previously reported on how Carmarthenshire County Council is unable to find a paltry £20,000 to repair a local community hotspot in Brynaman Lido. Stories like this are becoming more common as the pockets get tightened in Town Halls across the land.
There are certain cross sections that are going to be hit by these cruel cuts. The first is pensioners, the most vulnerable of us all and the people whom always take the brunt of politicians mismanagement. Pensions are being cut and benefits are being cut thus making the living conditions of our grandparents even more reprehensible. How much longer in our so-called civilized country can our elders go through the winter months without sufficient heating. How about the disabled children and their parents who will now be at risk of losing much-needed respite care and help as these vital services get canned due to lack of funds.
With the public sector at risk, the general public will also feel the effects indirectly as thousand’s of nurses and teachers lose their jobs. Crime is also expected to rise as the police force has been instructed to cut jobs by 40,000, almost a third of the entire officers. In a similar vein, the military is also threatened with extreme cuts despite being at war and on top of last years controversy over the condition of current military equipment and its part in the deaths of hundreds of serving men and women.
Once again, to reiterate, with the country in debt certain cuts or taxes are inevitable and to be expected. Even the most fervent anti-tory will have to concede this. However, it is the manner and plethora of cuts that is galling. What the ConDem’s are proposing is the biggest cuts this country has seen since World War II and totally unnecessary. All it will serve to do is to once again burden the working classes who will again have to suffer through difficult circumstances and become the victims of the government’s lust to increase the widening gap of inequality between rich and poor.
My own possible solution? Surely with the banks and their insurmountable greed being partly to blame for the global economic crisis the adoption of the much heralded but possibly impractical “Robin Hood Tax” would be popular with the people if the scrooge of the influential multi millionaire bank directors. Supporters claim that a form of levy on the banks could potentially raise £250bn a year, more than enough to aid in the fight against poverty and jobs.
Ofcourse…this is a sensible and popular solution to our brittle economy and can increase the quality of life for many. Which means it will never happen.