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Mind the gap.

Betsan Powys | 17:01 UK time, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Ok, so it's a snapshot.

It suggests plenty but proves nothing. It's an opinion poll that has sought the views of a thousand people in Wales and no more but boy, it's good to have it.

You'll find the details here.

The headline? More than half - 52% - of the thousand people questioned say they'd vote for the Assembly to have full law-making powers. As far as we can tell - and there's been some digging - it's the first time the yes vote to this sort of question in this sort of poll has passed the 50% mark.

But hang on.

The result this time last year? A yes vote of 49%. So let's note the symbolism but recognise that of more significance is that gap of 13% between the yes and no votes: 52% to 39%. The gap is growing year on year. Last year it was 49% to 42%. I gather another poll conducted recently (which may be work done for the All Wales Convention, maybe not) found exactly the same gap between yes and no.

But enough of a gap to trigger a referendum? Enough of a shift to tempt the politicians to go for it? Absolutely not.

The margin is growing - and in your comments I look forward to see how many concentrate on the 'slowly', how many on the 'surely'.

Comments

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  • 1. At 5:22pm on 26 Feb 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Betsan Powys:

    But enough of a gap to trigger a referendum? Enough of a shift to tempt the politicians to go for it? Absolutely not.

    I have to agreed with the side of 'surely; there will be a referendum in the nearby future.....


    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 2. At 5:47pm on 26 Feb 2009, puredrivelagain wrote:

    Happy St. David's Day to all, that is good news.

    I wouldn't read to much past the only figure that counts - Would you vote for a full making parliament.

    Talk of independence and tax raising powers are so far away from us that most people wouldn't give an accurate answer, in my experience people can't imagine such things happening or visualise the potential of having such things.

    They are alien to us at the moment.

    First step, get this referendum won!

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  • 3. At 6:01pm on 26 Feb 2009, MH at Syniadau wrote:

    Bethan says "absolutely not", but don't share that opinion. Speaking personally, I would welcome the referendum now.

    But the political reality is that the All Wales Convention won't report until towards the end of this year. They will recommend holding the referendum, and it would then take a few months to get the relevant legislation through the Assembly and Westminster before Labour lose the General Election in May 2010 ... which would only set the date for the referendum. It would be too late to hold the vote because of the summer break, therefore it would be held either late in 2010 or (as I predict) early 2011.

    The margin has grown from 7% to 13% in just one year. How much further will it have grown in another year-and-a-half or two years?

    We know that Plaid and the Lib Dems are solidly in favour of a "Yes" vote. The problem is that Labour (and the Tories, but they have less support in Wales) would be divided between what its AMs and MPs want. They are sitting on the fence waiting for the public to make their minds up for them. Only then will they decide which way to jump (it used to be called politics by focus group, for those who can remember the heady days of New Labour).

    Public opinion will sway them ... and public opinion is moving strongly in favour of primary lawmaking powers.

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  • 4. At 6:03pm on 26 Feb 2009, penddu wrote:

    Surely........with those people wanting more powers outnumbering the abolitionists by 3 to 1.

    Give us a vote now!!

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  • 5. At 6:04pm on 26 Feb 2009, MH at Syniadau wrote:

    Bethan says "absolutely not", but I don't share that opinion. Speaking personally, I would welcome the referendum now.

    But the political reality is that the All Wales Convention won't report until towards the end of this year. They will recommend holding the referendum, and it would then take a few months to get the relevant legislation through the Assembly and Westminster before Labour lose the General Election in May 2010 ... which would only set the date for the referendum. It would be too late to hold the vote because of the summer break, therefore it would be held either late in 2010 or (as I predict) early 2011.

    The margin has grown from 7% to 13% in just one year. How much further will it have grown in another year-and-a-half or two years?

    We know that Plaid and the Lib Dems are solidly in favour of a "Yes" vote. The problem is that Labour (and the Tories, but they have less support in Wales) would be divided between what its AMs and MPs want. They are sitting on the fence waiting for the public to make their minds up for them. Only then will they decide which way to jump (it used to be called politics by focus group, for those who can remember the heady days of New Labour).

    Public opinion will sway them ... and public opinion is moving strongly in favour of primary lawmaking powers.

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  • 6. At 6:24pm on 26 Feb 2009, Wyrdtimes wrote:

    When will the English get some say on how we're governed?

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  • 7. At 7:18pm on 26 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:


    I think there should be a referendum at the earliest opportunity, the next local elections would be good, before the next general election so that the issues can remain regional.


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  • 8. At 7:27pm on 26 Feb 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    They'd hardly be likely to think he was doing a
    'bad job' - they don't know who he is or what he does..

    Hilarious, if it wasn't so pitiful...

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  • 9. At 7:28pm on 26 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    My #7 should have referred to the European elections during June.

    Over excited.

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  • 10. At 8:52pm on 26 Feb 2009, Just1nD wrote:

    Betsan

    Is that 52% for instantaneously gaining law making powers in the currently devolved areas (and, presumably 21% for obtaining the same powers over a period of time), or is that 52% in favour of 'full law making powers'? There is quite an important difference, but did the respondents understand that?

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  • 11. At 9:27pm on 26 Feb 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 5....


    You do as I have said before.... 'count your chickens before they are hatched'.


    And, as I have also said before, I do not trust opinion polls. particularly those held over the telephone, where peolpe can, and do often lie through their teeth, by telling the pollsters what they want to hear.

    As I also said before, when I did the 2001 census, my task after the census proper, was to revisit some of those who had filled in the forms, and elicit yet further info, or clarify certain points, Amongst those I inetrviewed, about a hundred and fifty all told, my wife did a similar number, we caught out many who had ticked the box for Cymraeg speaking, and we found they could not speak the language at all, in fact many did not even know what their area name translated into.


    So stop counting, the eggs are still under the hen.

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  • 12. At 00:41am on 27 Feb 2009, -Drachenfyre- wrote:

    The results are what they are, a snap shot before any campaigning is under way.

    I take the results for what they are, a snap shot.

    But the trends are very revealing. I look for the results of the next UK general election to have a direct impact for how the Welsh feel about their assembly.

    Surely more people in Wales would rather be governed by the Welsh Assembly then by a Tory government in London.

    Historically speaking, that is when more Welsh Labour will seek further devolition.

    When Rhodri Morgan departs the Welsh stage in September, I wonder at how is successor will be portrayed. It seems the stars are aligning towards more influence of Plaid Cymru following Rhodri Morgan's departure.

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  • 13. At 03:52am on 27 Feb 2009, U13849865 wrote:

    Mapexx # 11

    LOL! What a laugh! Good on you, mate. Ask 'em crazy qu's and knock 'em off the list. Respect to you bro. Get those numbers down far enough to justify claiming the language is dying!

    Hit the rest harder! Roll on Census 2011!

    good man. the crazy langnats need putting in their place. Next they'll be reckonin their lingo's worth teaching in schools and stuff!

    ha ha - those eggs are rotten, man!

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  • 14. At 09:06am on 27 Feb 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    Well what a surprise in that the "Poll" would seem to indicate the growth in support for increased powers down the Bay.
    It would be interesting know who carried out the exercise and the methodology. When taking into account the current policies of public sector broadcasters in Wales in pushing "Nation building"by use of jingles/adverts like BBC Wales Your Nation Your Station is it surprising that there is this marginal increase in support for increased powers.I think such questions are similar to the perennial one on taxation/public expenditure when everybody to be "polite" says yes they support it greater taxation and then by and large vote for tax reducing governments/local councils. The question is a "sentiment" without the full rigorous discussions necessary for giving greater powers to leftist/nationalist politicians who have completely seperate agendas to the needs of ordinary english only speaking people. It appears that Paul Murphy made agood case for re-examining the "welsh language" policies contained in LCO and hopefully this will extend to the futilities of the Assembly in general.In speaking to friends since this poll result everybody is "mystified" as to this level of support as not one person in a wide circle of friends has expressed private support for "greater powers" but are adamant that they will vote to stop the progress of NATS and fellow travellers.

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  • 15. At 10:14am on 27 Feb 2009, -Drachenfyre- wrote:

    re: Snouts:

    "It would be interesting know who carried out the exercise and the methodology."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/wales_politics/7912263.stm

    At the end of the artical, i found this clue:

    *ICM Research conducted a total of 1,000 interviews with adults in Wales aged 18+ by telephone on 20-24th February 2009.

    *Interviews were conducted across Wales and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults in Wales.

    *ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.




    "When taking into account the current policies of public sector broadcasters in Wales in pushing "Nation building" by use of jingles/adverts like BBC Wales Your Nation Your Station is it surprising that there is this marginal increase in support for increased powers."

    *Fair enough.

    "In speaking to friends since this poll result everybody is "mystified" as to this level of support as not one person in a wide circle of friends has expressed private support for "greater powers" but are adamant that they will vote to stop the progress of NATS and fellow travellers."

    *You may need to broaden your friends list on Myspace or Facebook or Twitter or whatever. It really sounds like you are preaching to the chior of other BritNats/Unionists.

    *Try being more friendly and open minded. Try learning another language, go to various cultural events.

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  • 16. At 10:38am on 27 Feb 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 13....


    I do not know who presented this message but it was not Mapexx, please note there is but one 'P' in my identity, not two.

    I also cannot quite get if there is support or a degree of ironic sarcasm in the message, I am afraid you all must work that out for yourselves..


    But please CAREFULLY note, any messges from myself are headed 'maPexx' one 'p' only.

    However in re-reading number 13, I sense a 'supporter', so thanks for the support.

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  • 17. At 10:42am on 27 Feb 2009, BLUESNIK wrote:

    Re-read Kevin Morgan's excellent "Redesigning Democracy" for the polls in the run up to the 1997 devolution vote...the "Yes" campaign was often up to ten points ahead...a very SOFT vote...and a hell of a lot of "don't knows"...(don't cares)

    As the campaign rolled on, the NO campaign rapidly closed the gap...

    The "we want more" mantra is an easy bet...people always want "more" of whts on offer ...wind farms, police on the streets, Charlie Church vodka breezers, free AM iPods, macho powers etc...UNTIL the reality and the financial implications kick in...

    Don't count your Cymru Chickens...

    BTW...Rhodri (rightly/wrongly) was the "Wise and Kindly Uncle" (partly the hair)

    ...vote "halfwit nonentities" does not have the same popular ring!



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  • 18. At 12:12pm on 27 Feb 2009, Dan Dy Din wrote:

    Betsan

    It would be interesting to have the results from people who actually voted in the devolution referendum. I know that it would miss out a number of 18-28 year olds, but I have this sneaky feeling:

    19% want to abolish the assembly

    would that be the same 24% of the population who voted against the assembly in the first place? I know the numbers don't quite add up, but do you see where I'm going with this.

    In reality, if there was a vote tomorrow, would it be much the same as it was in 1997?

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  • 19. At 3:37pm on 27 Feb 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 18....


    As I have suggested to your companion in arms, on another thread, why not get your leadership to call for a compulsory vote across the whole of Wales at the forthcoming referendum,..... if it ever takes place that is?

    The only percentages that would count then would be the bottom line when the count is in.


    But somehow I doubt you would opt for that, as you are well aware of the likely outcome, which would hardly be in favour of what you lot are seeking.

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  • 20. At 4:09pm on 27 Feb 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    Thank you for you comment Drach.... in 17.Its one thing to ask a "loaded" question but as Bluesnik stated the "yes"numbers include pretty "soft"supporters whereas "no"numbers are pretty solid in opposition and speaking to friends they are determined to put a stop to NATS and fellow travellers. With regard to public service broadcasting in Wales it is my belief that there should be public inquiry into its plainly welsh language bias and employment ratios of welsh/non welsh speakers in the english speaking channel.I also got the impression that the "spin" is definitely pro devolution (at this stageof march to independance) and seperation of wales from england. Where has the current practice of speaking about "border" between England and Wales come from?It is giving the impression that there are two countries which is plainly nonsense. In recent programme continual mention was made about welsh newspapers and London papers as though they were from different planets. Well they are in reality in quality/depth/sales etc. As far as widening my circle of friends there is no chance as very happy and I play a lot of sport. Perfectly happy with english language and life in general with the exception of NATS and fellow travellers . I can assure you that the people I know and respect aint going to be shunted off into a welsh republic without using our democratic power through the ballot box.

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  • 21. At 5:26pm on 27 Feb 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Bethan tells us that this interesting poll was;
    “ICM Research conducted a total of 1,000 interviews with adults in Wales aged 18+ by telephone on 20-24th February 2009.
    Interviews were conducted across Wales and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults in Wales”

    Wales is apparently a pollsters nightmare – the population is dispersed with major variation of culture and opinion across different geographical areas.

    The opinion distribution demonstrated in the 1997 Referendum gives an indication of the problem.

    Truly representative samples are hard to obtain. In one area you will get a high % with one view -move 20 miles and opinions will reverse, in some areas there is a reasonable balance of opinion.

    This was apparently a poll of 1000 out of a total population of some 2.9 million, that should be adequate for a reasonably accurate result – but given the special situation in Wales the larger the number polled the better.

    If the AWC was not compromised by being (at the basic level) a creature of a political desire to modify opinion, the sample size it is working with should give a better picture, but sadly its result will be suspect.

    There is an inbuilt bias with telephone polls, and other factors can affect the result;
    Many conservative (small C) will not respond to telephone polls as a matter of course.
    People who change their minds are likely to move from yes to no.
    Those opposed to the Assembly or devolution are less likely to respond.

    ICM is a very experienced and professional company and will have factored in these problems but with what success!

    Opinion polls can influence the behavior of electors. A voter, who has little understanding of the issue, can assume that the majority opinion is the best option, and in subsequent polls will support the majority view of the last poll, and a misleading trend will develop.

    However when a Referendum or election is called the publicity campaigns quickly provide information that can change opinion.

    Betsan is right to say;
    “But enough of a gap to trigger a referendum? Enough of a shift to tempt the politicians to go for it? Absolutely not.”

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  • 22. At 10:01pm on 27 Feb 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Wales lacks regular opinion polling, we are lucky if we get two a year. If the BBC, HTV and Trinity Mirror commissioned polls every 3 months staggered so we had monthly opinion polls then the quality and accuracy of them would improve. I always treat polls with a degree of caution. Wales, as has been commented on, is a difficult country to poll in. Reputable organisations, of which the one that conducted this poll is one, will have a battery of systems to check and try to make sure its as accurate as possible. However this poll does give an indication of the trends. They confirm what other polls have shown - ie the die hard anti devolutionists are slowly going as the reality of devolution sinks in. Again the public are slow in differentiating between the executive and the legislature, but that is coming slowly too I think... It's important to stress that distinction as the institution is not the same as the government of the day. I would cautiously say that the argument is slowly being won, but again the poll shows that quite large sections of the public would benefit from engagement in the debate and for there to be better education so that people know what the options are. This is the task of the All Wales Convention, which despite what True Wales says is a neutral body. The video on their website does not come down in favour of the status quo or full implementation of the GOWA, neither does any of the information bias the discussion. OK the anti devolutionists want to reopen the debate and get the assembly shut down, but that is what the Union Parliament in West Minster has set down as the current options, perhaps they would be better attacking the Westminster Parliament?

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  • 23. At 10:49pm on 27 Feb 2009, Dan Dy Din wrote:

    Re. Message 19 by Mapexx:

    You assume that I wish for a referendum and that I would vote for greater powers for the assembly.

    You are wrong.

    However, I think that your other assumptions may be incorrect too. While only 25%(ish) of the population voted for the assembly, it is also true that only 24%(ish) voted against. Apathy may rule the other 51%.

    But if the 51% were forced to vote, and this is simply from experience with friends and colleagues who really do not care, I think maybe they would in fact come out strongly in favour of greater powers for the assembly.

    There is a frustration out there amongst the general population that the assembly is powerless and that not much is achieved. People want that put right. But very few would want it abolished.

    It comes down to the question about national identity. Are the Welsh a nation or not. Arguably the Welsh are in fact closer to being a proper nation now than we ever have been. The assembly, along with its side effects (feel good, sports, music, cool Cymru etc etc) pushed the sense of Welshness forward. People would not want to lose that now.

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  • 24. At 10:56pm on 27 Feb 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 22....


    So then, if True Wales is wrong, why not provide it with sufficient funds to counter balance the AWC, which despite your comment that is it not there to promote the agenda set by the Assembly, is certainly perceived to be so doing.

    Then we would have an equal bite at the cherry of placing before the electorate a antipathetic viewpoint, that at present cannot be seen to be on a par with all the publicity being given to the AWC ,and much of the rest of the propaganda being placed into the public domain, by groups with vested interests in devolving further powers.

    The BBC is not immune from these promotional tactics, as much of the output is slanted towards a 'yes' vote over the LCO, and yet further movement towards an increase in the devolvement of even more powers from Westminster to Cardiff.

    So far it is all one sided.

    That is totally unfair, and the uncommitted and unconcerned, who comprise the overwhelming majority, are NOT being given a rational choice for the future governance of this region.

    As for attacking Westminster, it has been a constant and ongoing attack, but in the main, anything thrown at Westminster with the name of Wales in it, is immediately referred back to the Bay.
    So no joy there, as we are well aware of the situation we are forced to comply with.

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  • 25. At 06:16am on 28 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    No friend of Plaid Cymru, but a friend of democracy, I would welcome a referendum before the next general election. Why, because it would go some way towards restoring democracy in Welsh politics, only when a referendum is ordered by government can the democratic process begin, currently, democratic discussions are being stifled by well orchestrated political engines, opposition in the Welsh political tradition has become very difficult because so many in the Assembly have a personal reason to maintain the status quo.

    There is a huge problem in the Assembly government, and it's not just the "all Wales Convention" and controversial LCO's rattling around the chambers in Cardiff Bay, there are the undemocratic "regional" party members. Cybernats will challenge this statement by saying the "regional Assembly members" arrive in Cardiff because of the ballet box". True, but a ballot box gerrymandered to skew democracy in the direction of minorities, is not democratic.

    The "Official" reason we have this abnormality in politics is the need for a hybrid electoral system in Wales that prevents any single party gaining dominance in. It was introduced to make sure all parties received a "fair" representation in the final political make-up of the assembly.

    Since when should an electoral system be skewed obliquely away from the democratic process? Fair becomes unfair when the wishes of the majority "Constituency" Assembly members are twisted by the politicos foisted on the electorate by unpopular political parties.

    I wonder if the LCO system would be such a problem if minority parties only exercised the power vested by the electorate in them through the "constituency" vote. I wonder if the "all Wales Convention" would have been created if democracy prevailed in Wales, I would like to know exactly who it was that foisted our undemocratic voting system on the people of Wales.

    Throughout the world conflict has erupted where people have discovered unprincipled politico's imposing unjust conditions on their lives, conflict that ejects the undemocratic from democracy, how soon before conflict erupts in Wales?

    At the last Assembly elections my preferred party, the Conservatives, would rest in third place behind the Labour party in first place and Plaid Cymru in second, in fourth place would be the Liberal Democrats with a lonesome Independent at the rear. But it would be democratic.

    After the political regional appointments are made there is no difference to the original list placing, Labour is first followed by Plaid Cymru etc, but the additional Assembly members ensure a coalition is formed to create a majority government. In effect, the will of the constituency is suborned to the will of the political party. At a stroke Welsh democracy becomes the face of undemocratic Britain.

    To what end?






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  • 26. At 10:39am on 28 Feb 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    OK some feel that the proportional element is undemocratic, I don't quite follow how that can be. There are more than a few constituencies in Wales where there are three way marginals, where the winner gets in on less than 35% of the vote. I'd say if anything the mandate of the regional members is stronger. If we had a majoritarian system, where one minority party gains a majority of the seats (to me that is the antithesis of democracy) then we would probably be in a status of perpetual one party rule from a party that had the backing of far less than half of the electorate. At least with this system we have a fairer reflection of the political balance in the National Assembly, and for me this is more democratic. It should be noted that I am not a great fan of closed lists, my preference is for STV in multi member constituencies where the voters prioritise candidates and reward those that work hard and remove those who are seen to perform badly, i.e. they make the choice ultimately who will represent them choosing between candidates from the same party as well as from candidates from other parties. Its the system that hands the greatest power to the electorate. The Richard commission proposed this, but it was vetoed for narrow party interest by the Labour Party.

    As far as BBC bias, I don't think so, there have been ludicrous complaints that jingles such as "your station, your nation" are nationalistic and are designed to make people think that Wales is separate from England, well it is - no promotion just stating the fact, likewise there is a border between Wales and England, in the sense that the two places are legally distinct and don't just shade into each other but have legally defined boundaries. Stating that is not propaganda but is a fact. Those that want to claim that Wales doesn't exist also need to be consistent and argue that England doesn't exist, unless they want to try to claim that Wales is part of England... in which case I do not think they will find many takers.

    So some perceive that the All Wales Convention is a propaganda exercise aiming to convert people to a yes vote in the referendum, well that too is plainly wrong, if some people perceive that then the fault lies with them. Of course it benefits the no campaigners to paint themselves as poor oppressed people fighting against a huge campaign vehicle - but information is neutral, its role is to engage in debate and test the waters, as well as educating people as to what is on offer. Telling people what is on offer does not equal propagandising for one outcome. This is why True Wales has to run on black propaganda, lies and scare tactics.

    I would rather they engage with the argument and tell me why expanding the powers of the Assembly to avoid the costly, wasteful and time consuming effort of transferring the primary legislative powers piecemeal is such a bad idea.

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  • 27. At 12:06pm on 28 Feb 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Lyn at 26

    The current list system is plainly undemocratic, disconnecting 20% of the AM's from loyalty to the electorate, instead making them servants of a political party.

    If we must have a proportional system then I would agree the STV method is better than what we have at present.

    If we had full proportional system, then the result of the 1997 election would have placed the Tories in second place by a significant margin.
    Instead we have the situation where a minority party has forced its agenda on the government creating significant division among the electorate.

    My preference is for a majoritarian system, the reality of first past the post quickly sorts things out - the ideology behind the period of governance is clear, making for a stable business and public service regime.
    But most importantly the representatives first loyalty is to their constituancy, the threat of the Ballot box tempers there actions.
    The much vaunted advantages of Proportional Representation are illusory - a chimera.

    I take issue with your comments on the independence of the AWC.
    You point out;
    "its role is to engage in debate and test the waters,"
    From what I have seen and the reports of those who have been to various meetings, those wishing to explore options and disagree with the vision presented are not well received - open debate is not a high point.

    However the Commission is probably testing the waters.
    I'm sure there will be two reports;
    One for public consumption, and one very private.

    You add
    " as well as educating people as to what is on offer. Telling people what is on offer does not equal propagandising for one outcome."

    Well telling people what is on offer, does amount to propoganda, if you do not give equal time and weight to the alternative views on what is on offer and what should be on offer.

    "The AWC is simply educating people on the views of those in favour of more powers."
    The message is simply that a no vote is going to hamstring Welsh Government a yes vote is the correct answer.

    Then to characterise those who offer a different view as running a campaign of "black propaganda, lies and scare tactics" is unacceptable.

    I realise you are emotionally (and perhaps professionally) committed to a yes vote, and possibly working to full Independence for Wales.

    That is fine, You, like myself are free (at present) to promulgate and work toward achieving our own political vision.
    But in a true democracy - Those who think differently should have equal opportunity, funding, and support, to make their case.

    The AWC and the Nationalist controlled Assembly is denying those opposed to their ideas and programme a level playing field to state their case.
    Thereby preventing the electorate from making a balanced decision based on a full and proper understanding of the options and risks.

    There is potential for serious future public disillusionment here.

    As Stonemason points out in 25;
    "Throughout the world conflict has erupted where people have discovered unprincipled politico's imposing unjust conditions on their lives, conflict that ejects the undemocratic from democracy, how soon before conflict erupts in Wales?"

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  • 28. At 12:26pm on 28 Feb 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Lyn re 26

    Your comment;
    "I would rather they engage with the argument and tell me why expanding the powers of the Assembly to avoid the costly, wasteful and time consuming effort of transferring the primary legislative powers piecemeal is such a bad idea."

    The answer is simple the Assembly should not have primary legislative powers.
    There is a serious job to do, devolved to the NAW in response to the 1997 referendum.
    The Welsh people have not consented to the Assembly having further primary legislative powers.

    We are part of the UK - Governed by the Parliment at Westminster, until such time as the Welsh people decide otherwise.

    Did you listen to the St Davids day debate on Thursday - if not you should have.
    It was a text book demonstration of how a Parliment should debate, and handle things.

    Making primary legislation is the function of Westminster, we do not have nor should we have a separate legislature or legal system.

    If our AM's got on with the job they are paid for instead of constantly agitating for more powers.
    They moan that without these powers they can't do the job that one man did, with varying degrees of success (but always with better results than the NAW has produced) for many years.
    Wales will be a much better place.

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  • 29. At 12:52pm on 28 Feb 2009, MH at Syniadau wrote:

    If Stonemason is a "friend of democracy" [#25] it certainly doesn't need enemies.

    If the last Assembly elections had been held on only a first-past-the-post basis we would have this:

    Labour ... 30.92% of vote, 60% of seats
    Plaid ... 21.51% of vote, 17.5% of seats
    Conservative ... 21.47% of vote, 12.5% of seats
    LibDem ... 14.19% of vote, 7.5% of seats

    Democracy is about reflecting the votes of people, not about giving one party an artificial majority.

    However I don't think all that much of the current Additional Member System either. By far the best voting system is Single Transferable Vote in multimember constituencies. One of its major advantages over any list system is that it gives voters the choice of who gets elected rather than the parties. As Lyn said [#26], this is what we would now have if Labour hadn't chosen to ignore the recommendations of the Richard Commission.

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  • 30. At 1:37pm on 28 Feb 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Assembly elections 1997

    Total Votes - constituancy + regional.

    Labour .... 603,879.... 35.2%
    Tory......... 427,883.... 25.0%
    Plaid........ 423,878.... 24.7%
    Lib Dem... 258,950.... 15.0%

    Total.......1,714,590

    Total = the 4 main parties others ignored!!!

    We can argue on what the real result with a different electoral system would have been - but these are the sum of actual votes.

    Close wasn't it - too close to allow one party to inflict its more extreme divisive policies on the rest of the Welsh population.

    This was a vote for unity and stability - not for the extreme Nationalist and language agenda.

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  • 31. At 2:06pm on 28 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    MH____ at #29 wrote .....

    "If Stonemason is a "friend of democracy" [#25] it certainly doesn't need enemies."

    Democracy is about inclusion, it is about everyone having equal access to power and sharing equal freedoms and liberties.

    Your insult marks you down as a playground bully, with little idea of democracy.


    Lyn_Thomas at #26 you wrote .....

    I looked at the figures for 2005 and .....

    In Wales there are 3 three way marginal seats .....

    Aberconwy
    Ynys Mon
    Arfon

    ..... the vast majority are in England, but the marginal seats represent less than 10% of seats and do change as the population changes elegance. So will pass on that part of your argument as I am not sure it is particularly valid.

    I will admit to not having a problem with the First-Past-the-Post electoral system, even though I generally vote for a minority party (in Wales), the Conservatives, which has historically lost out in our elections. And consider the result to be the will of the electorate.

    In the UK I believe we have responsible government where the rights of the minority are not abused by a "tyranny of the majority". Our parliament provides the checks and balances to protect our democracy and everyone within it, no matter where they come from. It might be slow but it is not unjust.

    If as West-Wales writes "the current list system is plainly undemocratic and disconnecting", then maybe it is time to re-examine the electoral system, as long as no political group makes my selection of the person then democracy remains.

    West-Wales at #28 .....

    I agree, there is so much that can and should be done with the powers currently devolved, the continual agitation for additional powers convinces me that "True Wales" could very well have the rights of it when they describe the current activities of the Welsh Assembly to be the slippery slope to oblivion.

    As a general question .....

    ..... might compulsory voting be a step towards connecting people with democracy.



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  • 32. At 2:08pm on 28 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    West-Wales, your #30

    "This was a vote for unity and stability - not for the extreme Nationalist and language agenda."

    You have my vote on that.

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  • 33. At 2:27pm on 28 Feb 2009, MH at Syniadau wrote:

    Very funny, West Wales.

    Those aren't the results for the "Assembly elections 1997" (you obviously meant 2007), but never mind.

    It is entirely bogus to add votes in that way. Each person had two votes. Although most people would have used both votes for the same party, it was pointless using your list vote for a party which would gain more than its fair share of FPTP seats in your electoral region.

    The actual number of list votes cast was 44,509 less than FPTP votes, and a greater proportion of list votes was for smaller parties.

    The share of list votes for the main parties was actually:

    Labour ... 29.66%
    Plaid ... 21.01%
    Conservative ... 21.47% (a coincidence)
    LibDem ... 11.75%

    So there is NO WAY you can argue that Labour got more than 35% of votes cast, nor that Plaid and the Tories each got around 25%.

    All you've done is shown us your limited understanding of maths ... which explains the rather flawed conclusions you arrived at in post 27.

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  • 34. At 3:13pm on 28 Feb 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 31

    You said:

    "In the UK I believe we have responsible government where the rights of the minority are not abused by a "tyranny of the majority". Our parliament provides the checks and balances to protect our democracy and everyone within it, no matter where they come from. It might be slow but it is not unjust."

    I remember Thatcher's Britain in the 80's - no doubt a period you applauded - and for the life of me I cannot recall any 'checks and balances'. I just remember the cruelties of unfeterred monetarism. And, unlike today, policies intended to create unemployment. And Wales was powerless to resist.

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  • 35. At 3:16pm on 28 Feb 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Thank you for the date correction posted in haste.

    First Degree Maths (1.2) - Second Engineering Science (1.1).
    Post Grad - behavior and modeling of Complex Interconnected Process Systems.

    I deal with reality - you with dreams and delusions.

    But never mind as it says in Max Ehrmann's poem the Desiderata.

    As far as possible, without surrender,
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even to the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
    they are vexatious to the spirit.


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  • 36. At 3:46pm on 28 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    FiDafydd at #34 wrote .....

    "I remember Thatcher's Britain in the 80's - no doubt a period you applauded - and for the life of me I cannot recall any 'checks and balances'. I just remember the cruelties of unfeterred monetarism. And, unlike today, policies intended to create unemployment. And Wales was powerless to resist."

    Yes I remember the 1980's, I had just left the army when the miners struck. Public opinion during the strike was divided and varied greatly in different regions. Overall, the government generally had more support than the miners.

    Public opinion .....

    ..... When asked in July 1984 whether they approved or disapproved of the methods used by the miners, 15% approved; 79% disapproved and 6% did not know.

    ..... When asked the same question in December 5 – 10 1984, 7% approved; 88% disapproved and 5% did not know.[27]

    ..... In July 1984, when asked whether they thought the miners were using responsible or irresponsible methods, 12% said responsible; 78% said irresponsible and 10% did not know.

    ..... When asked the same question in August 1984, 9% said responsible; 84% said irresponsible and 7% did not know.

    I can remember the taxi driver taking a non-striking miner to work in Merthyr, two striking miners dropped a concrete post onto his car from a road bridge above. He died at the scene. The two miners served a prison sentence for manslaughter. Murder more like.

    I didn't applaud this period, it was one of the saddest periods of industrial life, I remember both Arthur Scargill and Prime Minister Thatcher, I can remember the rhetoric, it was a political war. I can also remember the period following the strike end when less than 200,000 discovered they could not hold the rest of the population to ransom.

    As West-Wales wrote "Speak your truth quietly and clearly".




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  • 37. At 4:47pm on 28 Feb 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 37

    An interesting and revealing response. You do not, however, address the issues I raised about the lack of checks and balances to unfettered monetarism at Westminster.

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  • 38. At 5:28pm on 28 Feb 2009, John Henry wrote:

    FiDafydd , your #37

    I think hindsight is a poor companion, in retrospect, unfettered monetarism (I presume you mean unregulated) is also a poor companion.


    Two decade ago we needed a mortgage and decided our earnings multiple would be twice mine plus half my wife's, we were lucky because even when interest rates soared to 17 percent and negative equity was the order of the day we managed.

    During the last 30 years the whole population was whisked back to the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630's, it took off again in the UK and gained speed during the 1990's, I moved back home during 2002 and benefited from the property bubble, then I watched while Rome began to burn, it was pure luck.


    "Nietzsche" wrote "Morality is herd instinct in the individual." And the instinct during the last decade has been "it's getting better all the time". If "FiDafydd" or "TheStonemason" or "West-Wales" had shouted "stop" would anyone have listened, debt was being sold like sugar. How do you regulate herd instinct?

    I'm not qualified to give a definitive answer.


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  • 39. At 5:36pm on 28 Feb 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    And for supporters of first past the post - you effectively have a party list of one, you have no choice in who the party puts up as a candidate (unless you are a member of that party). The regional list is just the same, only with more people on it. I am not a supporter of the additional member system or the closed list, but it is more democratic than having an absolute majority of members elected on a minority of the popular vote. Plus who says that regional members owe no allegiance to the area that they represent - the Regional AMs I see working spend a fair amount of time on constituency work, with a large constituency caseload and regular surgeries held throughout their regions. Of course some parties are more democratic than others with the method of selection of candidates (both constituency and regional list).

    I worry about this "smack of firm government" that some hanker for, 100% of the power on 31% of the vote doesn't seem fair. At least in coalitions you have parties that represent a majority of opinion. Perpetual one party rule is not healthy.

    As for the wonders of the 1980s, it was during that period that community solidarity was devalued and naked greed advanced as an advantage, it was in that period that we dismantled regulatory frameworks, sold of the family silver for tax cuts (primarily benefiting the ultra rich). We also saw a slew of legislation that removed rights, such as Section 28, abolished the Metropolitian Counties and the GLC and replaced them with a plethora of joint boards and quangos to do the work that elected councils once did. The quango state took over and elected representatives were sidelined. Wales was ruled by Secretaries of State that ceased to represent Wales in the Cabinet and instead acted as central government Viceroys. 3 million unemployed was a "price worth paying", and we are still paying that price now with broken communities. Its a time not to look back with any fondness.

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  • 40. At 8:53pm on 28 Feb 2009, Draig32 wrote:

    It's interesting that even with the current economic crisis, the polls continue to show a steady shift towards support for law-making powers. But polls have also shown consistent support for tax-raising powers too.

    The public are ahead of the politicians.

    I suspect that support for tax-raising powers is still holding up, because people are gradually losing confidence in the ability of Westminster policitians to regulate the economy and banking system (which is now technically insolvent). It comes out this week for example that Broon pressured the FSA to adopt a "light touch" approach when it came to regulating the behaviour of the banks.

    Brown has been adopting a Thatcherite policy of deregulation.

    Successive Tory and Labour governments have destroyed the UK's economic base, through outsourcing, and taken the leash off the financiers. The consequence is a major systemic crisis that is rapidly destroying public confidence in the UK government. There is corruption on an epic scale.

    People will look elsewhere for answers, and in Wales they will look for a government committed to pursuing social justice. If that means more devolution, then public support for it will grow. It's a natural trend, and an incoming Tory government will reinforce it.

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  • 41. At 06:06am on 01 Mar 2009, -Drachenfyre- wrote:

    re: Llyn, Sonemason, and West-Wales conversation on the electorial lists.


    From Wikipedia

    "Under mixed member proportional representation a type of additional member system[23][24] Forty of the AMs are elected from single-member constituencies on a plurality voting system (or first past the post) basis, the constituencies being equivalent to those used for the House of Commons and twenty AMs are elected from regional closed lists using an alternative party vote.[25]

    There are five regions Mid and West Wales, North Wales, South Wales Central, South Wales East and South Wales West (these are the same as the pre 1999 European Parliament constituencies for Wales), each of which returns four members.[25]

    The additional members produce a degree of proportionality within each region.[25] Whereas voters can choose any regional party list irrespective of their party vote in the constituency election, list AMs are not elected independently of the constituency element, rather elected constituency AMs are deemed to be pre-elected list representatives for the purposes of calculating remainders in the d'Hondt method.[25]

    Overall proportionality is limited by the low proportion of list members (33% of the Assembly compared to 43% in the Scottish Parliament and 50% in the German Bundestag) and the regionalisation of the list element.[26]

    Consequently the Assembly as a whole has a greater degree of proportionality (based on proportions in the list elections) than the plurality voting system used for UK parliamentary elections, but still deviates somewhat from proportionality.[26]

    The Single Transferable Vote system had been considered for the Assembly by the Labour Party as early as 1995-96, but according to the evidence given to the Richard Commission by Ron Davies, a former Welsh Secretary,

    “ Had we done that of course we would have had to have had a Boundary Commission and that process would have taken forever and a day and that would have frustrated our overall political timetable. So we had to settle on the existing constituency arrangements, parliamentary constituencies and European Constituencies.[26] ”

    To date there have been three elections to the Assembly, in 1999, 2003 and 2007.


    * 23 Mixed-Member Proportional Voting in PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION VOTING SYSTEMS, Types of Voting Systems: PR Library created by Professor Douglas J. Amy, Department of Politics, Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved 8 July 2006.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/BeginnningReading/PRsystems.htm#MMP


    * 24 Electing the Welsh Assembly: Electoral Reform Society, information regarding Additional member system elections. Retrieved 9 December 2005.

    * 25 a b c d The Welsh electoral system: BBC News, 7 June 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2006.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/wales_99/the_welsh_assembly/304956.stm

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  • 42. At 06:11am on 01 Mar 2009, -Drachenfyre- wrote:

    re: I forgot to add souces 26

    * 26 a b c Chapter 12: The Electoral Arrangements of the Report of the Richard Commission: Commission on the Powers and Electoral Arrangements of the National Assembly for Wales.. PDF document. Retrieved 8 July 2006.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 43. At 09:35am on 01 Mar 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Prior to Labour government in the last days of the Major government a back bench cross party bill was sponsored to set up a Welsh Assembly, it proposed a 100 member National Assembly elected by STV. For this they proposed pairing the 40 Westminster constituencies, producing 20 5 member STV constituencies. There was a suggestion that after the first election the boundary commission would have then considered the matter and produced constituencies of between 3 and 7 members, with the majority probably being in the 4 - 5 range. The real main reason for the blocking of STV is party advantage. Labour does well out of the current system, and would do better out of First Past The Post. Labour didn't go for FPTP because they needed a wider consensus to campaign for the National Assembly and the only way to bring others on board was to have an element of proportionality. It would have been a simple matter for the first National Assembly election to have paired Westminster constituencies and had 3 members elected by STV.

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  • 44. At 5:10pm on 01 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    Messages 39,40, 41 and 43.....


    A complete load of politico speak. Designed to baffle and confuse.

    Meaning of 'politico' speak:-----

    Total waffle, with little if any substance.


    This state, the UK has been run on a perfectly good, if occasionally slightly skewed system, for a couple of centuries. It has yet to be shown that any other system, than the one we currently operate to elect our central government is any better.

    All these other types do, is cause stultification, bad cooperative legislatures and a decided bent in favour of such as jobs for the boys, perpetual 'Mexican standoff's', and general dissatisfaction amongst the electorate.

    They tend to hand the reins of power to a mismatched grouping of opposing political elements, which no matter how they stack up, are usually very careful to ensure that, by slipping the odd excessive pay rise now and again, and turning a blind eye to suspect activities, they can carry on regardless of the needs, or wishes, of the general electorate.


    The current status of governance in Wales is absolutely typical of all of those problems, and altering the way we vote will do nothing to 're-invent' democracy.


    The ONLY earth shifting occurrence that could make any real difference, is compulsory voting.
    That will ensure ALL take part in the electoral process, and without doubt in my mind, will do for Wales far more good than fiddling about with the way we vote.

    First past the post, but with ALL eligible voters being compelled to cast their vote.

    AS stated elsewhere, the only excuses not to vote, (as we now have the means for postal and on line voting), being dementia, and death.

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  • 45. At 10:06pm on 01 Mar 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    I don't know about politico speak, but pointing out that the electoral system is broken in the UK is not the preserve of political activists. First past the post may have worked in those rare times when there was an exclusive two party system. We don't have that at the moment and the present electoral system hands 100% power to people on less than 50% of the vote. If anything rewards jobs for the boys it is that system. We saw that with failed conservative MPs being appointed to profitable quango jobs. The UK's democracy is broken and has been for some time. Its is not the intention to confuse, just point out the flaws. Please do not attribute intent when there is none.

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  • 46. At 09:12am on 02 Mar 2009, Draig32 wrote:

    Mapexx said at 44:

    "All these other types do, is cause stultification, bad cooperative legislatures and a decided bent in favour of such as jobs for the boys, perpetual 'Mexican standoff's', and general dissatisfaction amongst the electorate."

    As if the Westminster system is somehow a paragon of innovation, accountability and good governance.

    The Westminster "First past the post" system entrenches the authority of the 2 biggest parties in the UK. And the consequence of this entrenchment is that we've had 2 parties pursuing the same "Neoliberal" agenda for the last 30 years. The system of Parliamentary scrutiny has almost completely broken down. If t hasn't, why are Select Committees examining the shenanigans of the banks - after the fact?

    For the last 30 years we've had a de-facto one party state. A state which has just turned around and legitimised one of the biggest acts of theft in UK history - a massive transfer of UK taxpeyers money to a tiny, self-serving elite.

    It's all there on the telly Mapexx. And the fact that it's EVEN on the telly shows that even the corporate and state-controlled media can't disguise what's happening anymore.

    I really can't see how Mapexx believes the electorate has confidence in this system. Turnout in the 2005 General Election collapsed to 61%.

    And his answer - to force people to VOTE for this corrupt shower!

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  • 47. At 09:26am on 02 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 45....



    I repeat my paragraph....


    All these other types do, is cause stultification, bad cooperative legislatures and a decided bent in favour of such as, jobs for the boys, perpetual 'Mexican standoff's', and general dissatisfaction amongst the electorate.



    ....and so what would you put in to replace it that could possibly do any better?

    Please do not use the example of STV or any of the other current fave types of modifications(which means mucking about with the system), to replace the FPTP.

    First past has served us well enough for a long time, it's never going to be perfect, but at least it gives a chance for a extra large majority goverment to turn the mattress over, now and again.

    The bed bugs get disturbed, and a clean sheet becomes available for the duration, until the electorate gets the wind up, and it's all change again.

    As I said, all these 'new' systems do is create a stick in the mud legislationary situation, with the Assembly being a typical example.

    Not a very glowing one at that.

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  • 48. At 10:04am on 02 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 46....


    No I do not accept that summation one bit..

    I am not, nor have I said that the policies of the last couple of legislation's are any sort of example of prudent government, but what more can you expect when communications are at such a premium that every time the PM wipes his backside we get headlines in the press.

    I think you are being somewhat perverse in reading into what I say, the way you do.


    As for the quoted 61%, what about the percentage for Wales, which in case you did not notice, was far less than that in the last couple of elections, and both previous referendums.

    My import on the matter, was entirely aimed at my region of the UK.
    Primarily, I accept that Westminster is in a different category to Wales, for a variety of reasons, but why we should be saddled with a different system of electing our representatives, than anywhere else in the UK, is really taking the Mick.


    The purpose of compulsory voting is twofold, ...

    1, it prevents the likelihood of the comments by people like you saying...

    'only this or that pecentage has given rise to whatever government is in power'


    2, it cannot then be stated that the government, with a minority secured vote,
    has not obtained a proper mandate.

    The effect of a compulsory vote gives rise to a legislature that is there by a far truer canvass than can be obtained by letting the electorate go to the polls, if they choose to or not.


    It is to everyone's advantage that ALL eligible cast their vote, if you think that is wrong, then you are anti democracy.

    We ALL live in this State and we are therefore ALL morally required to accept that we should take responsibility for it's governance.
    Not just leave it to a few who feel committed enough to vote, do so.


    Some will still fail to vote, yes, that is a
    fact, but so do some still drink and drive, and do other lawbreaking activities, but we do not complain about those draconian laws, so what is the big deal with compulsory voting?

    To be free we have to give up minor choices, and being made to vote is, relatively speaking, hardly worth the mention when compared to drink driving or burglary etc.

    Maybe you feel that we will be saddled with a permenant 'same' type government.

    Well then,... so that will be the will of the people, that is Democracy,. like it or lump it.


    And yes, I too watch the television news items, but I also immerse myself far deeper in the political morass, than just picking out the bits that suit my argument, from the 6 o'clock news.

    No, I do not wish to get the TOTAL electorate to vote for 'this shower'..

    ....I just want them to ACTUALLY GET OUT AND VOTE!


    Somewhat different than your remark would indicate I meant.

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  • 49. At 1:49pm on 02 Mar 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    At least with first pass the post we get an Administration that attempts to govern responsibly.

    Minority Parties always support PR.

    The problem with any sort of proportional government is that minority parties get power to inflict their agenda on the majority, forcing through policies that are have little or no support at the ballot box.

    Policies that are the reason they are a minority party.

    Wales is at present suffering from this, the One Wales agreement has not been authorised by popular vote.

    The 7%+ reduction in the education budget has been forced on the Assembly because of budget constraints - terribly damaging to our Childrens future.
    The NHS allowance within the NAW funding has been raided.
    Funding to Councils has been curtailed.

    But the Nationalist and Language Activists agenda goes ahead unchecked.
    No cut back in the WLB budget, unwanted LCO's entailing significant public and business expenditure moved mercilessly forward, the expensive AWC programme goes on.

    Plaid of course make a public fuss about the Education cuts, - all smoke and mirrors they know the Assembly is cash strapped something has to go - but not any of their pet projects.

    These Projects do nothing to improve the lot of the Welsh people - but do move the Nationalist long term agenda forward.

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  • 50. At 2:21pm on 02 Mar 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 49

    "Minority Parties always support PR. " -

    and 'majority' parties always support FPTP. Big deal.

    Thatcher's governments never had the support of the majority of the people in the UK - especially not in Wales and Scotland. Never. Yet she was pretty much able to do what she liked; and she did. Sod the rest of us. Why do you think there was such a sea-change between both referendums in Wales?

    That was not my idea of responsible government.

    And even on this topic, it is seen as an opportunity to attack anything to do with the Welsh language.

    Interesting poll about Welsh language legislation today, by the way!!

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  • 51. At 4:13pm on 02 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 50....



    'Thatcher never had the support of the majority'

    .... quite true, that is why we should dispense with calling for STV and Pr and opt instead for full and total compulsory voting.

    By such method we get a return which represents the wishes of the MAJORITY, not some carved up misrepresentation of what can only be suitable for power mad minority group nuts, whether nationalists or otherwise.


    But likewise with Thatchers administration, which did get in power with a minority vote, even more so is the fact that the present hierarchy in Wales also got there by an even lower minority vote.
    So decry Thacher all you like, as I very readily do, and at every chance available, but if you do so, don't forget to also decry the falsity of our present devolved Assembly WAG.


    Sauce for the goose.... and all that!

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  • 52. At 5:19pm on 02 Mar 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Fidafydd at 50

    No - my post at 49 was not a pop against the Language - it is about economic realities.

    Its about value judgement - we are facing severe financial constraints!
    Should we cut education, health, or public services, or cut back on those areas that do not help us through this difficult time.

    I would rather;
    My daughter can do her A levels.
    My Wife get a Doctors appointment.
    We look after the old, disabled and infirm.
    We have police on the streets.
    Our infrastructure is improved and maintained.
    Than spend money on those things not essential to the welfare of the people and the profitability of our business's.

    Handing money to business will do some good, but in the long run it is the infrastructure, costs, and regulatory framework that makes the difference.

    The money pit days have gone, the nice to haves are going to be hard to justify.

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  • 53. At 9:03pm on 02 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Draig32 wrote at #46 .....

    "For the last 30 years we've had a de-facto one party state."

    Draig must have slept the sleep of legends, have dreamt the dreams of the oppressed. And Draig has companions in these dreams, the "Plaid" confederation of "hysterical historical rhetorical", it has a ring about it don't you think "hysterical historical rhetorical".

    He implied that during 30 years the governance of Britain has been focused on placing a jackboot on the regional minorities, parliament might make mistakes, but any mistake is just that, a mistake to be rectified, there is nothing personal intended Draig, Westminster doesn't know you exist, it only recognises people.

    The mistake I judge, is yours, the mistake of believing "the majority in Wales would follow Plaid into a place that mistakes cannot be readily undone, oblivion."

    Bring on the next election, general that is, when because of the economic circumstances the turnout will be large enough to bring back into power someone who believes in and supports the Union.



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  • 54. At 9:31pm on 02 Mar 2009, U13849865 wrote:

    You're right, WestWale's. Yeh. Langage. Tshah! Nonsense.

    Milions of people dye every year because of money wasted on lingo. Thousands of criminals go free every day because of nationalist claptrap. The earth is dying because of those biliungal leaflets.

    Stop this nat madness. Spend sensibly not on the idiotic fossills of 'culture'. Theres much more important stuff in life than antiquated mother tounges and cultural ways of life. Your right there's prophet and money and proggress.

    National languague's are destructive. They need to be kept in place before they destroy us.

    I'm with you WestWale's.

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  • 55. At 10:12pm on 02 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Mappexx at #54 is, I think, a Nationalist Cyberspoiler.

    No substance.

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  • 56. At 10:30pm on 02 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    m essage 55....



    Well, whatever he/she is, it certainly is not me.

    The spellings and grammar should tell you that.


    In fact It would not surprise me to find it is one of the nats attempting to cast me in the shadows, by making out the sentiments are the same as my own, but being even more virulent, because as you know I do not call the language over at any time.


    Only what goes on in the name of the language.

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  • 57. At 11:16pm on 02 Mar 2009, U13849865 wrote:

    dont critisise me for my speling and grammar. I have a right to have my voice heard. To raise my opiinions WHICH ARE RIGHT.

    I am on your side. We are the majoiryt. We will win.

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  • 58. At 00:12am on 03 Mar 2009, Draig32 wrote:

    Interesting how Mapexx has switched from the "First past the post" argument and gone onto compulsory voting now...a sure sign of weakness.

    Mapexx speaks of some kind of "moral" imperative behind the need for compulsory voting, but conveniently forgets that voting was fought for and introduced in the first place by people who fought for the right to vote - voluntarily. Nobody compelled them - they did what they did because they believed people should have the RIGHT to vote. As adults, we have the choice as to whether we want to vote or not. That choice was ultimately fought for by our forefathers, voluntarily.

    Compulsory voting smacks of Authoritarianism. But more than that it's an attempt to paper over the cracks in a corrupt system. If people are not voting it's because they have no confidence in the system.

    And who is going to implement compulsory voting anyway? Does the Labour government have the moral authority to bring it in? If Labour ever attempted it, especially in this climate, I can confidently predict mass civil disobedience.

    And given that the Tories are just as corrupt, and in hock to corporate interests,what authority would the Tories have either?

    And yes there is a responsibility with ordinary people too. We have complacently sat back and let our politicians run the show, because we are "not interested in politics". And they have run the show - for themselves. So we took our eye off the ball too.

    I've got your number Mapexx, and for all your accusations of "anti-democracy", you have a readiness to sanction state-sponsored compulsion, an eagerness for simple solutions, and a harking for a simplistic, idealised past, which all smack of right-wing authoritarianism.

    In your quest for certainty and simple solutions, I suspect you would quite happily throw democracy out of the window.

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  • 59. At 01:47am on 03 Mar 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 58

    Oh dear, Draig32, you've asked for it now! You're far too clever and much too sensible for your own good.

    Also, now it's confirmed, not that there was any doubt, that the Stonemason is a Tory - and a Thatcher apologist to boot. Well, there we are, he clearly (unlike us cybernats) speaks for Wales ...

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  • 60. At 06:07am on 03 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:

    FiDafydd at #59

    I confirmed my voting preference many threads ago, but I have never apologised for Margaret Thatcher or any other politician.

    At #31 I asked the question .....

    "..... might compulsory voting be a step towards connecting people with democracy."

    ..... clearly compulsory voting would destroy the notion that only a proportional system is democratic, and in the process demonstrate how disproportionate the influence "Plaid Cymru" has on the Welsh political landscape of today.

    I speak for my vote that is cast at every general election, after which I trust the majority party of Britain to protect everyone. My trust is absent following voting for the Welsh Assembly government, where minorities attempt to apply legislation designed to disassemble the Union, recently by sleight of hand.






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  • 61. At 10:19am on 03 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 62. At 8:33pm on 03 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 61.... Sorry I tried to re do this, but in attempting to cut and paste, I lost the whole thing, I cannot be bothered to do it again, less the so called offending bit.

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  • 63. At 09:41am on 04 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    Message 58....


    You commence your message in total error.


    I have NOT changed from FPTP to compulsory voting. They are not different sides of the same coin.

    I have ALWAYS, as can be witnessed from all my blogging on BBC websites, been in favour of both.


    Personally speaking, my interest lies purely in NOT the method of voting, but in the matter that EVERYONE should actually do their civic duty and get to the ballot box, or these days use a postal vote as I and my wife do.

    I prefer the FPTP method, but am ambiguous really, no matter what method is used.


    Yes indeed, the right for universal franchise was fought for , hard and long, but was done so on the basis that once achieved EVERYONE would act in a responsible manner, and vote.

    This has not come about, so unless there is now compulsory voting, all that fighting was done in vain.


    You ask who would enact the necessary law to enforce compulsory voting, what a silly question, any government can do it, just as they do with all other aspects of compulsion in law.

    The bottom line being, once put on the statute books, there would be little anyone outside of Westminster could do about it.



    As for the following few sentences I have pasted down....


    "I've got your number Mapexx, and for all your accusations of "anti-democracy", you have a readiness to sanction state-sponsored compulsion, an eagerness for simple solutions, and a harking for a simplistic, idealised past, which all smack of right-wing authoritarianism.

    In your quest for certainty and simple solutions, I suspect you would quite happily throw democracy out of the window. "


    .....you will be readily seen as a foolish person for that little diatribe.

    Keep in mind, it is the Nat's and nuts on here who hark for some incredibly unobtainable 'past'.

    I look to both a properly conducted universal franchise, one in which ALL do their civic duty, and return to full democratic principles, which the current situation denies us.


    You mix up your antipathy for a demand for a new way to cast the vote, with some sort of antipathy towards the messenger.
    A common trait amongst the politically ignorant.

    NO problem for me in that, as it is a common feature with many who also post messages to this blog.

    A total lack of comprehension from that side of the political argument.

    As usual, and typical.

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  • 64. At 1:04pm on 05 Mar 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    What the supporters of First Past The Post seem to be unable to grasp is that unless you have a rigid two party system all parties elected are minority parties (except for that rare occurrence when a party gets 50% + 1 of the votes). FPTP distorts the result and hands 100% of the power to a minority party, sometimes (as has happened on a few occasions post WWII) to a minority party that actually came second in the popular vote. It is undemocratic in that it excludes from the legislature large viewpoints and distorts representation.

    Make voting compulsory, well I can see some value in that, I have always seen it as a civic duty, though I have reservations over the secrecy of postal voting and have seen how open to abuse it is. However excluding large minorities from the legislature, which is what fptp does, alienates the public who see no value in voting as they can rarely influence the result.

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  • 65. At 2:34pm on 05 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 64....


    I have also observed elections using a plethora of other voting systems, and none are as open as FPTP, and in fact are far more open to actual abuse and warping of the electoral system.


    Strong government needs strong turnouts at elections, as you say, recent governments have been elected with minority numbers of votes.

    The one thing that cannot be said, when compulsory voting takes place, is that we then get a administration that does not represent the wishes of the majority, even if that majority is only 1%.


    Any other practice is totally unsatisfactory, no matter which option of voting one chooses to follow.


    None of us like certain laws, I for one am a 'speeder' within tolerances. and cannot abide camera's. But I have to comply generally speaking.


    So it would be with compulsory voting, not liked maybe, but a civic duty, which after the first election or two, would become 'standard' practice and therefore the 'norm', for the electorate, just as paying tax is, or not committing murder.

    As I said before, some would still attempt to not vote, just as some still drink and drive, but the numbers would not matter in the greater scheme of things..


    Postal mail may be open to abuse, but the numbers would be infinitesimal, and abuse is soon discovered, as occurred in Birmingham, a couple of years ago.

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  • 66. At 08:36am on 06 Mar 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    You make the assertion that other electoral systems are more open to abuse than FPTP where is your evidence? And this desire for strong government still doesn't answer the question on a minority party (such as all the governments of the last 40 years) having 100% of the power.

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  • 67. At 09:52am on 06 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    messae 66.....



    I will agree my comments provided no 'evidence' as such, but wherever election processes have been modified with alternative means of achieving an end result, problems have arisen.

    I cannot be bothered to trawl through hours of document research just to pull out definative examples, but I have been involved in politics one way or another for nearly sixty years, and have come across much to be fearful of, whenever alternatives to FPTP are suggested.

    There's nothing to beat a simple cross against the name of the candidate, think of the problems with the 'machine' marking of ballot papers in the USA, from which, by being messed about with, we had 8 years of the Bush administration, now almost universally slated for it' s incompetance.


    Without doubt, had the ballot been traditional, 'x' on paper, we would never had Bush in the White House.

    Prop'l Rep'n and STV can ONLY produce a marked tendency for 'hung' administration in the Chamber of whichever council.

    That is what we definitely do NOT need, at any time.

    As for minorities,... even under STV or PR you would still get non representation for some proportion of the electorate, be the overall majority 1% or 99%.

    The target of fair balance is pretty well unachievable, no matter what system you use to obtain a governing council.

    So why bother making alterations?

    We get what we vote for, in most cases, and to add into the equation multi candidatures, who all expect a positive result, simply confuses the voter.

    Perhaps that is the aim of those pushing for STV or PR. Nothing like a confused electrorate to give unprecedented powers to the ambitious, who have no chance iof getting it by normal electoral procedures.

    This, in turn, gives rise to unwanted results, and very often stultification, in whichever administration has been returned.


    I am afraid your arguments get ever more stuck in the mud.

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  • 68. At 5:36pm on 06 Mar 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 67

    You said:

    "but I have been involved in politics one way or another for nearly sixty years, and have come across much to be fearful of, whenever alternatives to FPTP are suggested."

    What exactly does "are suggested" mean here please? Also did this vast experience come about from your experience in Wales and or the UK? If so, with so little use of systems other than FPTP having been made here during that period, what was this large body of evidence?

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  • 69. At 8:12pm on 06 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:


    FiDafydd .....

    I think you have become "Master of Fallacious Argument".


    The question is why?


    Why would you swamp discussion with irrelevance other than to destroy valid argument.


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  • 70. At 8:28pm on 06 Mar 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 69

    I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. Somebody has made a sweeping statement, and I would like to know the facts. How on earth can that be an irrelevance?

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  • 71. At 04:47am on 07 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:

    You responded with .....

    What exactly does "are suggested" mean here please?

    I am sure that you understood exactly what mapexx had written, I did with my feeble masons intellect.

    Because in the UK we use only FPTP plus mixed member proportional representation in Wales, it is not valid to imply that mapexx does not have a large body of evidence, the world is awash with evidence.

    "Every swan I have seen is white, so it must be true that all swans are white." I think your #67 should apologise to mapexx as a fallacious argument.




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  • 72. At 07:46am on 07 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 71....


    Don't bother Stony, the guy knows exactly what he is about, he's been well instructed by his taskmasters on how to create discord, where none is necessary.


    In truth they must be all getting really rattled, as their case gets deconstructed by my welll founded arguments at every turn.

    Instead of answereing in a rational and sane way, with constructive counter argument, his forte is to take snippets from a massage, each and every time, out of any sort of context, in the hopes in doing so, it will elicit a response from me, that will somehow show me as being completely wrong or worse, antipathetic to my homeland and fellow citizens.


    Further, there are some who trail alongside of him, seemingly independently of him, but are evermore being seen as fellow travellers in the dispensation of bilious personal attacks.


    None of whom put up any sort of legitimate response, but who delight in making scurrilous and insulting comments re my intellect, my credence, my validity, or via any other nasty bit they can dream up.

    In the end, all it shows is their case is devoid of those very same attributes.


    As I said previously, I will ignore such messages, they can them throw out as much nastiness as they like, but if aimed at me, I shall refer those messages to the moderators, each and every time, until correct procedure is adhered to, by both message writers and moderators alike.

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  • 73. At 07:53am on 07 Mar 2009, John Henry wrote:

    My #71 should have refered to #68, not #67.





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  • 74. At 10:52am on 07 Mar 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    X is the mark used because the electorate were illiterate for the most part.
    Northern Ireland used the slogan 1 2 3 its as easy as A B C and it really is. You order the candidates in order of preference, giving a 1 to the person you most want elected, 2 to your second favourite etc. No confusion there. Yet you seem again to suggest that there is some ulterior motive in those that propose STV and that is to confuse the electorate and somehow steal the election.

    I repeat with fptp in a multi party country, such as ours, it is extremely rare for a party to get the majority of the votes but ends up with a majority of the seats. How can this be democratic? I would argue system has given us bad government for decades - we would never have had the excesses of the poll tax and the divisive government of Margaret Thatcher if we had a rational electoral system. Yes no system is perfect, and yes no system gives you true proportionality, however FPTP fails to give any proportionality and is the least representative of just about any system.

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  • 75. At 11:57am on 07 Mar 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 74....



    All that PR,STV and any other method gives you, is a transfer of the imbalance from the polling station to the Chamber.


    No system is perfect, on that we seem to agree, but why bother making alterations when to do so, removes the method we are used to, and which despite it's failings does work however badly, and replace it with another that does no better.

    I have witnessed the situation where a single seat can make a helluva difference to the way a council makes it's mind up.
    Be that majority obtained by PR, STV or FPTP. They all hold back for fear of upsetting one another's apple cart.


    I repeat what I have stated many times before, any other system creates the potential for a stultifying hung council situation.

    In itself, not anything to worry about in local matters at the level of the fairly small authorities in Wales, but which can be devastating to progression in much larger administrations, and extremely damaging to the state at Parliamentary level.

    I care not one bit whether there are majorities either way, landslide or marginal, what I do care about is that, whichever political group gains power, it acts reasonably towards the population.

    In that, I also agree that a certain administration of a decade and a bit ago, was horrendous for most, but very beneficial for the elite.


    But to decry the system as undemocratic, would only be valid a comment if EVERYONE who is franchised actually used that franchise. That they don't, is as I said before, their own fault of they get the administration they don't want.

    Which is why we suffered the twenty years under Thatcher and her successors.

    Minority governments are caused by minority turnouts at an election. Nor will they be made any different by manipulating the system by which we cast our votes.

    I will concede one thing, if and when compulsory voting becomes the norm, then maybe, we could look at PR, STV, or any other method, so that FPTP could be either carried on with or dispensed with. But it needs to engage ALL who are franchised, not just the pathetic few who manage to get themselves to the booths as at present.

    Until such times, I stick with what we have.

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  • 76. At 2:43pm on 07 Mar 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 72

    Maybe this is where mapexx has found the guts to answer my question. But, then again, we may never find out ...

    But on PR, why anyone would want to put absolute power in the hands of a minority is beyond me - even if we are used to it!

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