Saying ‘No’ in Wales

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under Referendums, Wales

8 responses to “Saying ‘No’ in Wales

  1. Gwilym ap Llew

    As I see it, the only way to “engage the (Welsh) wider public in debates about the Assembly’s legislative powers” is to get out on the streets. If there really are movements in favour or against enhanced legislative powers, then supporters of those movements should be out door-knocking, and giving out leaflets on our High Streets. This does not need big budgets. I’ve seen no sign of any popular movement for or against. Indeed, few of the people I’ve spoken to here in north Wales even know that there’s any kind of election in March.

    A frightening outcome would be if, say, 15% of the electorate vote Yes and 14% vote No. What would happen then?

  2. True Wales’ decision not to apply for official designation was not a “surprise”; it was widely mooted a fortnight or so before the closing date for applications. I made my jocular application to lead the No campaign because I knew, beforehand, that True Wales was seriously considering not making a bid.
    Supporters of the Yes Campaign have been unjustly condemnatory of True Wales for not registering as an official No campaign. I can appreciate the Yes frustration, but True Wales have not broken any rules or laws by not registering, so if democracy has been in anyway ill served by True Wales’ decision not to register, the fault lies with the rules and laws, rather than the group!.
    Indeed if there is no official “Yes” campaign it won’t actually be “True Wales'” fault, it will be mine, for not submitting a good enough bid to succeed as No lead. So the yes campaign may, actually, have been hindered by the fact that the only No bidder had miscounted his fingers when measuring the Whisky in the glass before submitting the bid! – An interesting way of running a democratic process!

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