Last week’s big constitutional surprise came from True Wales, who decided not to apply for designation as the lead ‘No’ organisation in the Welsh referendum when they launched their campaign. It rather looks as though they sought to pre-empt the embarrassment of possibly not being recognised as the official No campaign by ducking out of the running altogether. There’s news coverage of it here from the BBC, here from the Western Mail, and an interesting discussion here from Betsan Powys.
True Wales’s decision will certainly make it harder to raise the profile of the issue and engage the wider public in debates about the Assembly’s legislative powers. (I noted that their material refers to extra powers for the Assembly Government, though this isn’t on offer.) One senior journalist I saw in Cardiff on Thursday expressed huge frustration at finding anything to cover connected with the referendum over the next six weeks. That may well have an effect on turn-out, which True Wales could argue weakens the mandate for extra powers. However, as I argued HERE, that’s not a strong argument – and securing that goal by declining to take part fully isn’t a very convincing way of achieving it either.
UPDATE, 26 January: Rachel Banner of True Wales has written an interesting piece regarding the referendum entitled ‘No debate is not good enough’. It can be found on Wales Home, here.
UPDATE, 27 January: the Electoral Commission has confirmed that there will be no ‘designated organisations’ campaigning on either side in the referendum. The Western Mail‘s story about it is here.