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Who's who.

Betsan Powys | 11:37 UK time, Saturday, 29 January 2011

Just who will we hear speaking over the next few weeks for the Yes and the No campaigns in the Assembly powers referendum?

Now granted, that's not the question most of you were asking over your cornflakes this morning but it is a question that surfaced in the Western Mail you may have read over your cornflakes this week - so let's tackle it.

Let me start by saying this: You'll be hearing a great deal over the coming weeks from ordinary voters who've decided to vote yes, no, or who are still trying to work out which way to go. You'll be hearing from the sixty members of the People's Assembly from next week - people who got in touch after hearing my pleas before Christmas and told us they'd like to be part of our coverage around the referendum and the election in May. Some of them feel pretty strongly about all sorts of issues that affect the referendum though they don't represent either campaign.

But the question I started with is this: who will we hear speaking over the next few weeks for the Yes and the No campaigns?

Now in terms of the Electoral Commission, there is no official lead campaign on either side.

Yes for Wales met the criteria to become the official Yes campaign but due to the fact that True Wales declined to apply, under the law, to be the official No campaign, the Commission was unable to designate official campaigns for either side of the argument.

(The blogger, Alwyn ap Huw, did apply to fill the slot of lead 'No' campaign but his bid failed. You get the impression he was disappointed but not that surprised, somehow.)

The official campaigns would have received benefits including a free Wales-wide mail-shot of their campaign leaflet, a political broadcast slot across radio and TV channels, a £600,000 limit on campaign expenditure and £70,000 grant for organisational purposes.

So instead of official campaigns, the Electoral Commission is now only required to recognise "permitted participants" - in other words, groups or individuals who register that they intend to campaign for one side or the other.

Who are they? On the Yes side of the fence so far there's Yes for Wales, Plaid Cymru, Tomorrow's Wales and Unison

On the No side there's True Wales, the self-styled Miserable Old Fart and Mark Beech, who has described himself as an official Monster Raving Loony based in South Wales. [I've changed the word 'lived' to 'based'. Mr Beech has been in touch to say that though he's based in Wales, he doesn't actually live here.]

To be clear, the fact that they've all been registered with the Electoral Commission as "permitted participants" simply means that they've sent in their names and would have to declare it if they spent more than £10,000 while they're at it. Then again they may, in the end, decide to stay at home and watch the rugby.

In other words the simple fact that they've chosen to register their names doesn't confer any particular status on them as campaigners. They've sent in a form and the Electoral Commission has got it. That's it.

So to this press release from "Yes for Wales" where

http://www.yesforwales.com/site/?p=894Roger Lewis issued a challenge to broadcasters about the way they now cover both sides of the referendum debate, saying "'Yes' campaigners will all continue to work together through 'Yes for Wales' to present a consistent message and to work with the media, but there is no recognised lead for the 'No' campaign, so no single group should be treated with any sort of priority over other fringe parties* campaigning for a No vote.

"Each group has the right to parity, even if their diverse opinions don't help clarity."

What Mr Lewis and Yes for Wales are arguing isn't just that broadcasters should ensure all sorts of voices from within True Wales are heard (and True Wales has a pretty varied collection of supporters) but that broadcasters should give True Wales no more air time than the self-styled Miserable Old Fart or Mark Beech, the Monster Raving Loony, because they are "permitted participants." But on the Yes side, Mr Lewis points out, everyone will "work together through 'Yes for Wales'."

Does that argument hold water? No, not in my view.

We'll decide who to interview based - not on whether they've sent an envelope to the Electoral Commission - but after considering things like whether a group, or individual, has a demonstrable track record of campaigning on the issue, have campaigning capacity and whether they represent that side of the debate to the greatest extent. In other words you try to use editorial judgement when you decide who to interview and how often.

On Yes for Wales' logic, fifty people could register as "permitted participants" on the Yes side, decline to be represented through their "umbrella" organisation and demand to be on TV just as often as YfW. Parity for one, parity for all.

On the other hand hearing from all sorts of voices from within True Wales - and Yes for Wales - seems not just fair enough to me. It sounds like exactly what we should be doing. We should be giving you a chance to hear not just from the leaders but from others who've come out to campaign in their name and to spell out why in ways that stir up a strong response from those who oppose their views.

It may seem obvious but it's also stated in the BBC's referendum guidelines that "news judgements continue to drive editorial decision making in news based programmes" - whether there's a referendum round the corner, or not.

So there you go.

Will we always get it right? No, probably not. That, no doubt, is asking just a bit too much - but you can, at least, be quite sure that we're well aware how important it is that we try to get it right.


*If the 'fringe party' to which Mr Lewis is referring is UKIP, it's worth noting that UKIP confirmed this week that contrary to what's been said in some press reports, they're not officially supporting the No campaign. Individuals are free to do so but voting no in the referendum is not party policy.

UPDATE

A somewhat different message from UKIP over the weekend. They didn't and have no plans to make a request to become "permitted participants" and they won't, as a party, be campaigning in the run-up to the referendum, nor spending any money on supporting the No campaign - but they do, as a party, advocate a No vote.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    "The blogger, Alwyn ap Huw, did apply to fill the slot of lead 'No' campaign but his bid failed. You get the impression he was disappointed but not that surprised, somehow.)"

    More relieved than disappointed, Betsan.

  • Comment number 2.


    Might I humbly suggest the BBC also considers the disenchanted, the disaffected, the disinterested, all those people who have indicated they will not vote, politics needs to know, the 56 percent of the electorate who decided not to participate in the 2007 National Assembly election held on Thursday 3 May 2007 ...

    ... without this group of the Wales public, elections to the unicameral Assembly fail to represent the whole, the Assembly becomes less than democratic in nature, more autocratic in its actions.

  • Comment number 3.

    Re 2

    Strange how quickly the True Wales rump resort to hypocrisy! They refuse to take part in a proper debate - lacking the guts and principles to actually stand up for what they claim to believe in - and then start posting here about the 'disenchanted', the 'disaffected' and the 'disinterested'. If there is a low turn-out in March, they will have to shoulder a large part of the blame as well. And they will have no moral leg to stand on.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 Thank you. Very glad to hear you're a Relieved Old ... blogger!

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 You're right that broadcasters shouldn't forget the disaffected, Stonemason. The list in my blog wasn't really meant to be exhaustive, mind you - more a case of making the point that while we do want to hear from all sorts of committed campaigners over the next few weeks and months, we don't want to hear just from them.

  • Comment number 6.

    Betsan has to be moderated?

  • Comment number 7.

    In a democracy where there is freedom of expression I, and others of various dispositions, are able to comment on topics such as the disenchanted the disaffected and the disinterested as and when we are able; I refer comment No 3 to Veronica German and the Druid as examples of the freedom to express opinions, permission is not required.

    I hardly think that current political pundits should shoulder the blame for a public unable to relate to the current political classes, low turnout is almost guaranteed this voting year, much as it has been for a decade or more.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thank you for your kind response, but how do the non-affiliated make a public opinion for consideration ?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    @2
    Your quote - “Might I humbly suggest the BBC also considers the disenchanted, the disaffected, the disinterested”
    Do you mean “uninterested”? Disinterested surely means impartial or neutral? In either case, there doesn’t seem to be much point in asking them for their opinion.
    The 56% who did not vote gave a simple message and that was that they didn’t care who lost or won. That is a legitimate position to take and who are we to tell them they must care?

  • Comment number 11.

    Could the BBC not look into the issues behind the campaigns and attack those, rather than making up lies to attack the campaigners?

    I have made a complaint about this blog post, but I cant help feeling disappointed that the BBC would chose to spread lies about me, rather than to spread the facts about what this referendum means to the Welsh people.

  • Comment number 12.

    Jaques #9, I don't think that I have ever read any comment that is a factually, incorrect as yours. EVERY school in Gwynedd and Anglesey, teaches English to ALL pupils. 100% of the staff employed by both councils can speak English. only a minority of jobs are advertised with Welsh as an essential qualification. English history has not been erased by anybody and village names have not been changed. Welsh is not a minority language in Gwynedd and it is not given preference anywhere in Wales, only a few weeks ago the Assembly passed a measure stating that both languages are equal, there are thousands of non-Welsh speaking teachers in north Wales. Voting Yes or No will not make a blind bit of difference to Welsh language policy in Gwynedd Anglesey or anywhere else in Wales because competency for Welsh Language lawmaking powers have already been given to the Assembly under the current LCO process.

  • Comment number 13.

    @9
    Nice long post, but it doesn’t seem to be related, in any way, to the subject under discussion. Perhaps we could all agree to stick to the content of Betsan’s articles?

  • Comment number 14.

    10, until it is known why such a large proportion of the electorate choose not to vote, democracy is in a perilous position.

    If we look at the 2007 Assembly election the turnout was approximately 44%.

    Of this the Labour Party won the greatest number of votes, 32%. This vote represented 14% of the electorate.
    The other parties were Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives with 22% each represented just under 10% of the electorate, the Liberal Democrats with 15% represented less than 7% of the electorate.

    The upshot is that the current administration was voted into office by less than a quarter of the electorate. It can be argued that a similar situation exists at Westminster, the difference rests with the quantity and quality of debate, Commons, Lords, and a multitude of interest groups coupled with a powerful press influence.

    If this Administration were a national coalition that included all political parties it might be argued the "disenfranchised" would be catered for by pragmatic politics that crossed party lines, but we don't, we have a system where party philosophy takes precedence, the "clear red water" of the Socialist politics of both Labour and Plaid are proof positive.

    In Wales we have a Unicameral legislature with an internal structure that mimics the House of Commons without the associated moderating influences expected by this democrat.

    So, for me, those that do not vote are important, both because we do not know why, we do not know how to gain their participation, and by default their wishes are not included in any national conversation, including the up and coming referendum.

  • Comment number 15.

    Re 7

    I notice that you have now stopped referring to me by my blogging name. Petty, but hardly something that would annoy me. (West-Wales seems to have sulked altogether, or he doesn't regard replying as a common courtesy.)

    You say:
    "I refer comment No 3 to Veronica German and the Druid as examples of the freedom to express opinions, permission is not required."
    Who said anything about permission or non-permission? Not me. And I can't think of anyone else who has done so either. So what do you mean?

    We wanted you and your TW gang to debate - but TW chickened out. They had a chance, but chickened out. There was an invitation to partake in a democratic debate, but they chickened out. So, what on earth are you on about?

    But one thing is for sure, if there is a low turnout TW will be blamed, and rightly so. They will be blamed because they chickened out.



  • Comment number 16.

    No.11 Mark Beech

    I'm not quite sure what you base your serious accusations on.

    A quick google brings up several sites of note, including a blog with the introduction (presumably pre-edit) "Website and blog of Mark Beech (aka the Good Knight, Sir NosDa) a Monster Raving Loony based in South Wales", and a Facebook page for "Mark Beech for Loony MP for Cardiff Central" (number of members: 32).

    I take it you're an entirely different Mark Beech?

  • Comment number 17.

    Re 14

    If I didn't know that you are an uncompromising supporter of Osborne (and Cameron's) ideologically driven, right wing, fiscally conservative, never-mind-the-social-consequences ,car crash policies, then I might take your:

    "...we have a system where party philosophy takes precedence, the "clear red water" of the Socialist politics of both Labour and Plaid are proof positive."

    more seriously. So, please don't be disingenuous with us.

  • Comment number 18.

    The numbers of people who seemingly have no interest at all in whether the Assembly get "more powers",must be a concern as to the validity of the devolution exercise as we know it. The current"settlement" only got through by a whisker,and there was a pretty good manipulation in the date of vote,in that it followed the scottish vote,which was "guaranteed" to vote YES. We then had the propaganda that if the Scots have a seperate body from Westminster then we need one too,and the rest is "history".I support TRUE WALES in declining to take the public's money,and any way the whole of welsh cicic society is well and truly "on side" with this one,and the little people can go and whistle. Even if its a NO vote,it wont take the NATS long to wind up the arguments for independence once again,and if they go into "opposition" after next election in May,then their soul mates in LLAFUR better watch out.This whole debate is similar to two bald men fighting over a comb,in that the real world carries on,and welsh economic/social/educational standards go backward at great speed.

  • Comment number 19.

    @14
    Quote
    “So, for me, those that do not vote are important, both because we do not know why, we do not know how to gain their participation, and by default their wishes are not included in any national conversation, including the up and coming referendum.”
    Perhaps you didn’t understand my point. I didn’t say that those who do not vote are not important. Your statement seems to be both presumptuous and patronising. If they choose not to vote, what is it to you?
    They, for their own reasons, have chosen not to participate. That is their choice and it tells me that they are not concerned about the result, one way or another. Therefore their wishes are included, they don’t care!
    The pity is that, after the event, some people assume that this non expressed opinion somehow or other agreed with their own. You can only count the votes cast.

  • Comment number 20.

    17.

    It wouldn't matter if the water were "red", "blue" or "yellow", the electorate of Wales would remain disadvantaged in the same way, the views of up to three-quarters of those eligible to vote would not be automatically included by the administration.

    Until the 50 - 60 % of the electorate who currently choose not to vote, or a sizeable majority of, become part of the election process democracy is not served.

    There is only one way, in my opinion, that the whole population may be served politically in Wales, and that would be where the administration is comprised of voices from all political groups, a national administration. Unfortunately I cannot see the politicians of the Assembly agreeing to cooperate on behalf of the public, political agenda is more important to the parties.

  • Comment number 21.

    just heard powys council are banning butter or margarine on school childrens bread in an effort to cut obesity - still allowing pudding though, well at least latest reports say so!

  • Comment number 22.

    I will 2nd Stonemason's first comment.

    I am not sure that the Assembly is doing enough to make people interested in this referendum. I think the only leaflet people in my area have had from the Assembly relates to the bovine tB eradication programme. Many I have spoken to did not like the biased position taken in the leaflet by the Assembly.

    Democracy is all about letting the people decide .

    I am entirely undecided at this point. Whether Yes or No. It would be a joy to read a YESman's points which will aid the economic and social fabric of Wales. I would also like to read a NOman's positive ideas why more powers would be detrimental to a young institution like the Assembly.

    The proponents of both sides would not last five minutes in a University debating chamber. Let's hope that some intellect will emerge.

  • Comment number 23.

    Could I just ask the quislings on this blog:
    Are Welsh people just genetically incapable of running our own affairs?

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 23.
    Could I just ask the quislings on this blog:
    Are Welsh people just genetically incapable of running our own affairs?


    Maybe so? I'm an English native of Monmouthshire, and utterly different to the Celtic ascendency of Ron Davies-Rhodri Morgan-Carwyn Jones of Llafur.

    Llafur might not be Cymraeg enough for you? But as an English, English speaking Brit, I regard them as Celtic social engineers.

  • Comment number 25.

    Just out of interest...
    Why is it that every single referendum held, (including the two involving the unfortunate creation of the Assembly) and the forthcoming "further powers" (March) referendum, are phrased the same way.

    That is, the answer wanted by the Assembly is ALWAYS to be answered "YES".
    It is well known in opinion research 'circles' that any YES or NO answer ALWAYS favours a "YES" reply which invariably comes first.

    For instance we never see along the lines of......."Do you want assembly powers to stay as they are"? "YES" or "NO"....

    Something to do with a "YES" answer being 'naturally' more agreeable than a "NO" answer which is deemed to be 'unfriendly' to a surprisingly large number of voters who may not have a strong opinion.

    Many think that the 1997 referendum was so narrowly 'won' because of that "YES" first reply on the ballot paper.

  • Comment number 26.

    In reply to M23 quote;
    "Could I just ask the quislings on this blog:
    Are Welsh people just genetically incapable of running our own affairs?"

    Well, there, you have said it, don't you feel so much better ?

  • Comment number 27.

    @24
    “I'm an English native of Monmouthshire”

    Sorry Jack, you can’t be both English and a native of "Munmuthsher". Not even if you are referring to the rump of the county that presently uses the name.

  • Comment number 28.

    23 ...

    ... there are no "Quislings" hereabouts, though there are many wanting better governance.

  • Comment number 29.

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but despite all the posturing and nonsense coming from both camps isn't the vote just to decide if the powers can be passed en block (with some exceptions) to Wales to make laws in the 20 devolved areas for which we are already making laws anyway! I know at present we need Westminster's permisson on a case by case basis to begin making laws in the subsections of those 20 areas that we don't have powers for already, but has Westminster turned down any request to do so in the past? (I don't know!?!). Surely this is just removing an administrative part of the process (which can take a considerate amount of time) which will allow our Assembly Government in Wales to actually spend more time doing than asking? Surely after 10+ years of devolution the political process in Wales should now be allowed to stand on it's own feet?

    Also, is the referendum not just part of meeting the conditions laid down in the Government of Wales Act i.e. that UK government, WAG and the people of Wales all want the powers to be passed to WAG? It's difficult to get people interested in a vote about an administrative process, particularly with both campaigns clouding the issue.

    I for one will be voting Yes bassed on my belief that the laws are already being made in Wales on a case by case basis. The laws will still be made, the Assembly will still exist and the AMs we put there with our votes will still be making the laws, only (hopefully) with less red tape and in a more timely manner without the delay of seeking a 'Yes' from Westiminster on each case.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 29
    Very sensible post and now to bed.

  • Comment number 31.

    27. At 11:52pm on 29 Jan 2011, Glyndo wrote:
    @24
    “I'm an English native of Monmouthshire”

    Sorry Jack, you can’t be both English and a native of "Munmuthsher". Not even if you are referring to the rump of the county that presently uses the name.

    I know, and, I suppose you are right, the Irish-Welsh Celts of Llafur, are indeed in the ascendency in once English Monmouthshire.

    But, shouldn't you at least make clear to British folk, who the anti-British Irish-Welsh Celts are?

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Stonewall I agree that turn out is lamentable, but how on earth do you get to represent the views of people who have expressed no view by not voting? Fortunately the National Assembly for Wales has an element of proportionality, which makes it easier to more accurately reflect the views of those that vote. True Wales in not opting to register as an official campaign opted out of getting their leaflets to every house in the country. In effect they said that they were going to deny people the right to see their view point. Not very democratic in my view.

  • Comment number 34.

    No.32 Jacques

    In your posts, you speak of Welsh as a minority language and of the "huge majority" that doesn't speak it, even throwing in terms like "huge injustice" and "racism" for good measure.

    Yet Gwynedd and Anglesey, where you live, are Welsh-speaking heartlands where the majority of people speak Welsh. Whyever would you want to deprive your children the opportunity of learning the language spoken by the majority of people there?

    If there are any reasons to vote No in the referendum, this certainly isn't one.

  • Comment number 35.

    33, might I recommend you re-read comment No 23 para 3.

    I would expand, it is my considered opinion that where turnout is so low that no one party or group has a mandate from a majority of the electorate, not voters, there is no mandate to do anything other than continue the day to day business of the administration, based upon the prior administrations spending plans, preferably as a percentage of revenue, plus or minus 5%, or another agreed percentage.

    The administration is thus reduced to a caretaker government until such time as the electorate display sufficient confidence that turnout is raised to a level that a government can be formed with a clear mandate. Westminster included.

    ... two points, what was that tax you referred to elsewhere, and what is with "stonewall" ?

  • Comment number 36.

    35. At 1:07pm on 30 Jan 2011, Stonemason wrote:

    “I would expand, it is my considered opinion that where turnout is so low that no one party or group has a mandate from a majority of the electorate, not voters, there is no mandate to do anything other than continue the day to day business of the administration, based upon the prior administrations spending plans, preferably as a percentage of revenue, plus or minus 5%, or another agreed percentage.”

    Heh?

    I think you will find that this would exclude almost every administration that has ever been voted into power in the UK. It is simply idealistic, impractical poppycock.

    Why can’t you just accept that non voters are simply saying that they don’t care who wins?

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    My apology again Stonemason, though stonewall might be an appropriate name as you tend to stonewall on questions where we (the collective readership of this blog) ask you to produce some evidence.

    The tax of course was the poll tax, introduced a year earlier in Scotland (which is illegal in terms of the treaty of union) and for which there was no mandate.

    If you are seriously suggesting that no government be formed unless 50% of the electorate vote in favour then you condemn us at both Welsh and UK level to no government ever. Now that may fit in with your miniarchist views but its not practical or realistic. And again it draws an inference that you can't make, namely what the view of those that don't vote is.

  • Comment number 39.

    No.37

    From the torrents of claptrap and drivel I managed to fish out this little beauty:
    "Wales is an integral part of England and we should not change HISTORY"

    And I was just thinking what this blog really needs now is another troll. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • Comment number 40.

    No 34. Mr Agreeable
    You should note that Gwynedd,Anglesey and Carmarthenshire all registered fewer Welsh speakers in the 2001 Census compared to the 1991 Census. In a joint speech given by (Welsh Society)members, they say, and I quote,"The language is most obviously losing ground if we look at our Welsh-speaking communities." They also said ".......the next Census will certainly show a further fall in the share of Welsh speakers in our traditional Welsh-speaking communities." Reported on 15/01/2011 bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-12199261.
    Apologists for the compulsory teaching of the Welsh language assert that it is the right of Welsh people to be able to speak the language of their choice. It seems, according to Mr Agreeable, that Jacques has no right to choose an English-medium education for his children. He doesn't need to give you an explanation for his preference.

  • Comment number 41.

    Jacques' argument for voting NO (or not voting YES - which is it Jacques?) are about as stupid as my friend who won't vote YES because Ellin Jones permits a badger cull.
    The debate is about the speedy use of powers vs. allowing Westminster to hold up legislation agreed on in Wales.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    36 ... Australia achieves a 95% approx turnout at its federal elections, compulsory, an 80% turnout was achievable early in the 20th century, there is nothing undemocratic about parties working as coalitions, it is an almost permanent situation in Europe, so administrations are not excluded, they are different.

    Your opinion that "non voters are simply saying that they don’t care who wins" is just that, your opinion, we do not know exactly why they do not vote. One young member of my staff, when asked why he intended not to vote at the last general election said "what difference will it make". A sad indictment of modern politics.

    So to answer your question at 19, "If they choose not to vote, what is it to you? and at 36, "Why can’t you just accept that non voters are simply saying that they don’t care who wins?" ... democracy needs an overwhelming majority to participate in the political process, without such a majority politics becomes an empty shell, unrepresentative of the population.

    Government doesn't have to be at the speed of light, it should be representative of the whole population.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    38. you are quite correct when you write "And again it draws an inference that you can't make, namely what the view of those that don't vote is." At no time have I inferred such a position, that would be your interpretation.

    In Wales the turnout was just a little less than 44%, such a low turnout demanded a government that included representatives of all parties, it would be the only way to represent the majority who failed to vote.

  • Comment number 47.

    Re 43

    Stonemason,

    Your newly found obsession about turnouts and legitimacy is something else I find disingenuous. In my opinion it results in your knowing that you are about to lose the referndum vote.

    Thatcher never achieved over 50% of the vote, and it was even less if you included those who failed to vote at all, as anti, which is what you tend to do. But I don't ever recall you saying that her governments lacked legitimacy.

    Indeed, your concern for the Welsh who don't/can't be bothered to vote is far greater than for the vast majority of the Welsh who voted time and time again for anyone other than Thatcher. But then, her victories - and destruction of communities - were the right results, as far as you were concerned. Perhaps you should consider changing your name to Stonewall...

  • Comment number 48.

    MrAgreeable #39 troll!!! or are you just trying to stir the pot.

    justapunter #40
    Agree with your comment.

    The essential point is that even though Welsh is rightly an official language in Wales - so is English - every one has the right to choose.

    We all know whats happening is illegal, but "Human Rights in Cardiff" nor our politicians are unlikely to touch this with a barge poll because of fear of the Language activists.

    Time the rights of those who don't wish to engage with the language are protected.

    Now back to the thread of this Blog,

    Lyn #38
    (the collective readership of this blog) that would be you and...

    However the simple rather childish tactic of saying prove it, to suggest a statement is wrong, saves you the effort of demolishing the argument with your own facts, and often an indication that you don't have a counter argument.

    However:
    We have an Administration ignored and possibly disliked by a majority of voters, for what ever reason, they don't vote in elections.
    If the opinion polls are correct - this group has grown, and seem to have no interest in this latest effort by our politicians and media to increase the powers of the Assembly.

    At what point does the fact that the majority turns away from involvement make the whole edifice undemocratic.

    Stonemason has offered a view that there is a limit and that we need to get a significant percentage the 50 -60% (looking like 60 - 70% for the Referendum) who don't vote, engaged with the democratic process.

    Remember we are not talking about the sort of turnout we see at General Elections, or the low turnout at local Government elections where the whole thing can be resolve in five years and is less of an issue.

    We are considering Referendums on major constitutional change for which there will be no chance of a review for many years.

    While first past the post, irrespective of turnout, may suit the agenda of some - that system allowing a very small percentage of the population to decide a controversial major constitutional issue is a recipe for trouble, as well as bad for democracy.

    Surely if the turnout cannot be raised above some figure which delivers a substantial minority of the electorate in favour, or against, the whole thing should be null and void.





  • Comment number 49.


    47 ... and if Mrs Thatcher had been obliged to form an administration with other parties would politics have been different, I think so.

    I haven't written of voters in Wales to the exclusion of the remainder, I refer you to comment 35 paragraph 3.

  • Comment number 50.

    43. At 4:03pm on 30 Jan 2011, Stonemason wrote:
    “One young member of my staff, when asked why he intended not to vote at the last general election said "what difference will it make". A sad indictment of modern politics.”

    Not enough information. Did he mean “What difference will it make TO ME?”? In which case, it fits my scenario, he just didn’t care enough to vote.

    Of course, he may have been sharp enough to realise that as a voter in Wales, in a UK election, his vote really wasn’t going to make much of a difference to the overall outcome. Perhaps he does intend to vote in the Assembly election or even the referendum.


    46. At 4:25pm on 30 Jan 2011, Stonemason wrote:


    “In Wales the turnout was just a little less than 44%, such a low turnout demanded a government that included representatives of all parties, it would be the only way to represent the majority who failed to vote.”

    How would a government of all parties be representative of the people who didn’t vote for any of them?

  • Comment number 51.

    #32 "Jacques wrote:
    IT IS A FACT THAT ENGLISH language has been removed from Primary Education 100%."

    It is not a fact, it is a complete fallacy. Under the Education Reform Act 1988 all schools in Wales must teach English. But even if it were true it would still be totally irrelevant as far as this referendum is concerned, if we vote yes or if we vote no Gwynedd's teaching policy will be the same on March 4th regardless of the result.

  • Comment number 52.

    Re 49

    Stonemason,

    So, you were scandalised by Thatcher's refusal to work with anyone else were you??!! I don't think so.

    I'm sorry, but your inconsistencies and opportunism merely betray your sense of panic before the referendum, and in the face of a Welsh nation no longer doffing its cap to anyone.

  • Comment number 53.

    52 ... you have moved from the topic into a personal attack, I'm not interested.

    50 ... I will ask the young man exactly what he meant, tomorrow.

  • Comment number 54.

    Re 53

    I have moved to where you took it!! Typical. First TW, now you...

    As for the original post, there will be a large number of coherent individuals and organisations who will speak on the Yes side. There will be a rag bag trying to introduce the No case, but of course straying very far from the question on the ballot paper.

    And the Electoral Commission will have to fill an information void left by TW because they chickened out. Their actions (or inaction) may have added to indifference. I look forward to hear you condemning them, Stonemason.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    No.48 West-Wales

    I have a great deal of respect for you. Although our viewpoints on many things relating to Wales may differ, you're one of the very few "pro-UK" posters on here to comment in a sensible, temperate, adult manner.

    Unfortunately Jacques didn't match your standards. After his first post contained a number of highly dubious points, I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my question in post no.34. Sadly much of his second post descended into a nonsensical rant (since joined by a third) which made it clear he had no intention of being taken seriously.

  • Comment number 58.

    #56 If Jacques lived in Cardiff, Brecon or Wrexham, I would have every sympathy. But he's gone to live in Gwynedd, for heaven's sake, the one part of Wales where more than 70 per cent of people speak Welsh and the local authority is trying to keep it that way. It's virtually the last area on earth where Welsh is the majority community language. Didn't he know that before he went there? Would he go to France and complain that the schools only teach in French? This is not a plea for human rights it's a piece of seld-centred colonialism that says you can go anywhere in the world and expect the locals to educate your kids in the language of your choice at their expense.

  • Comment number 59.

    The following is an interesting example of wishful thinking:
    "When the great disinterested (sic) Welsh majority eventually put down their Sunday papers and turn over from Sky and Channel 4 long enough to realise what a handful of politically active nationalists have been doing 'in their name' and without a remit.... well lets just say all hell will probably break loose"

    Wanna bet?

    Many things happen in our fair land that I would have expected to spark an angry reaction from the public at large but the things that do breach the apathy and indifference are few and far between. That indifference though cannot be used to brand as undemocratic things that poiticians do. If they work within the rules of the democratic system and respond to the majority of those who can be bothered to vote they have a remit. We all wish more people took an interest but the fact they don't can't be an argument for paralysis.

    We can't get 'em to vote 'yes' but you can't get 'em to vote 'no' so the assumption they are on your side is no doubt comforting but it is completely unwarranted.

  • Comment number 60.

    No.58 Tredwyn

    Spot on.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.


    Oh dear. When someone speaks of the 'Jewish lobby' and then goes on to accuse others of racism, we have reached a low that even our old friend mapexx never reached.

    I do hope that at least one poster from 'the other side' of the 'argument' will have the decency to condemn Jacques' sentiments.

    It would actually be interesting to know when in fact Jacques first realised what Gwynedd and Ynys Mon's policies are. Was it after moving in?

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    It seems that people can't help themselves - every discussion here turns into a rant about language - perhaps we can move on?

  • Comment number 65.

    Re 64.
    Sorry, but Jacques is not ranting, that's a term used over and over again by Llafur or Plaid nationalists when an opponent is scoring telling blows.

    Carry on Jacques, you've got the ruling caste personally insulting you, well done.

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 Brittany is a poor example to use. There USED to be more Breton than Welsh speakers but the French have successfully discouraged and suppressed the language so now there are many fewer. The few remaining Welsh-majority parts of Wales don't want to go the same way. If you want to speak English you can live all over the UK and in many other countries. If they want to speak Welsh they can only go where they are in Gwynedd. Since you dislike your children having to learn in Welsh, why on earth go to the only place in the world where that has to happen? And why get indignant and try and dilute their culture in its last remaining stronghold? If that isn't colonialism, it is at least self-centred and insensitive.

  • Comment number 67.

    #65

    You know Jack you still haven't told me if Hutt, Hart and Andrews are members of this "ruling caste" and if so why they are English speakers with English names. I suppose we all tend to ignore uncomfortable facts inconsistent with our theories. Most Welsh people don't speak Welsh and don't support political separatism but they are proud to be Welsh and happy to see a distinctive Welsh culture preserved. Why some people feel threatened by that or resentful I don't know.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Assemby Member Peter Black makes interesting observations about education in Wales at Freedom Central [ http://www.freedomcentral.org.uk/2011/01/plaid-cymru-and-illiteracy.html ]

    Thanks to Peter Black keeping his finger on the pulse at the Assembly.

  • Comment number 72.

    In reply to M68, regardless of the contents of the rest of the post, I found this part quite interesting, quote;
    "...the National Assembly is run by Welsh Nationalists (14 out of 60 are Nationalists) is ranting."
    14 out 60, less than a quarter, yet they are running the place, democracy eh ?

  • Comment number 73.

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  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ah yes, devolved government and ever narrow politics by devolved politicians - incestuous little kingdoms?

  • Comment number 76.

    #73 I hope I can help

    1. Who authorised granting a minority cultural language disproportionate powers, thus creating a 'language industry' that marches on unchecked and unaccountable to public scrutiny?

    I'm not sure that anyone authorised "granting a minority cultural language disproportionate powers, thus creating a 'language industry' that marches on unchecked and unaccountable to public scrutiny" although some very limited responsibilities were placed on public bodies by the Welsh Language Act 1993. This was passed by the UK Parliament, and guided by David Hunt, Conservative MP for the Wirral. The power for the Assembly to legislate on the Welsh Language was also granted by the UK Parliament in 2010, guided by Cheryl Gillan, Conservative MP for Chesham and Amserham. The Welsh Language Measure was supported by all parties.

    2. How is it possible that the Welsh Assembly can authorise a route to creating a Bilingual Nation National without a public mandate?

    Again, I don't know "how is it possible that the Welsh Assembly can authorise a route to creating a Bilingual Nation National without a public mandate", given that all the major parties both in the Assembly and at Westminster have been quite open in their support of the Welsh language (even putting it in their manifestos for voters to see). Surely if there was such public objection, one of the parties may have picked up on it....

    3. How much public moneys have been spent on the language issue by the Welsh Assembly so far and how much is it to cost us to make us all bilingual?

    I have no idea. I'd recon it's a lot less than the cost of renewing Trident or the war in Iraq.

  • Comment number 77.

    Lyn #64
    every discussion here turns into a rant about language - perhaps we can move on?
    Unfortunately the inappropriate Language legislation and enforcement, together with attempts to avoid legal and human rights duties in respect of English medium education in parts of Wales, are probably the most divisive issue in Wales.
    Until resolved this will always be a disputed topic here.

    Alwyn ap Huw knows perfectly well that the issue is that English Medium Education is not being made available to Jacques children, despite this being illegal.
    I afraid Alwyn's "rant" is a rather childish attempt to be clever and raise the temperature, playing to the activist gallery, not adding to the discussion.

    merthyrmarkf #72
    (14 out of 60 are Nationalists)
    You don't have to be a member of Plaid to be a Nationalist.

    20 of the 60 AM's are fluent welsh speakers (33%), some 20 more are learning or have some proficiency.
    Lets assume half (10), so there are 30 AM's able to communicate to some degree in Welsh.
    That's 50% of the Assembly Government.

    Compare that to the Welsh Population according to the 2004 census report, of whom 21% over the age of 3 can speak Welsh. While only 16% have some reading and writing skills.

    Now the discussion moves back to the thread of this post;
    The balance of Welsh speakers in the Assembly does not reflect the balance in the population at large.
    Given that the average turnout for the three Assembly elections is 42% the Assembly does not represent the expressed views or opinions of the wider Welsh population.
    There are 58% who for what ever reason are unrepresented.

    The democratic deficit does not stop there, the Assembly is not giving due diligence to maintaining our infrastructure and Public Services, instead it is squandering resources on inappropriate and unnecessary legislation.

    The One Wales Government assert that there is a £300m Shortfall in the moneys passed to Wales under the Barnet formula - in fact the Central Services and Administration costs of Devolution are currently (2009 - 2010 )in excess of £400M.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    #73

    It’s a sad reflection on electoral law that a campaign which fulfilled the statutory criteria is denied the opportunity of putting its case directly to the people of Wales, simply because opposing parties did not apply or failed to meet the criteria.

    We will have to rely on the discretion of the press and the media as to who will have a say and to the editors as to what will be said and when it will be said. That is no way to conduct a referendum campaign. It makes the likes of the BBC the arbiters in an issue which is fundamental to the people of Wales, and to the way their country will be governed for the foreseeable future.

    TW’s decision not to apply for lead status has deprived us of that proper debate, where lead campaigns could put their case independently of the media and the press, and take it into every household. Whether TW would have met the Electoral Commission’s criteria is another matter. One suspects that they might not.

    Clearly, equal weight should not be given by broadcasters to all those who have applied to be ‘permitted participants’, but we will have to trust the editorial judgement of people who are unaccountable to us for the decisions which they take. The BBC is a prime example. Anyone who has seen ‘Newswatch’ knows only too well how weak is the Corporation’s response to criticism from its viewers.

    March 3 is a pivotal date in Wales’ history, not because something monumental will happen if there is a Yes vote, but because it’s time for us to move on from an unsatisfactory, cumbersome and slow legislative competence procedure. It will raise the status not only of our Assembly, but of our country and its people. ‘Yes for Wales’ has the support of the leaders of all four main parties. Essentially it’s not a party political issue. It’s a ‘Yes’ from me too.

    ***

    Most of your comment consists of assertions unsupported by evidence. As pointed out by others, your assertions are incorrect. Moreover your comments are unrelated to the current topic of this forum.

    It’s an undeniable fact that Wales IS a bilingual nation, as are many others. Some are tri- or multi-lingual. I can’t see why anyone should have a problem with Wales in that respect.

    Everyone in Wales has the option of learning Welsh, no matter what their gender, age or religious persuasion. There are plenty of opportunities for so doing.

    Incomers into predominantly Welsh-speaking parts of the country have an added advantage when it comes to learning the Language. They also have an incentive for doing so as they can participate in the community to a far greater extent. What can one say of incomers who are unsympathetic towards the language and culture of the community that they have joined?

    Regrettably, Britons, and I use the term advisedly, have by and large, and unlike most other European peoples, shown themselves less than ready to learn other languages, even when they emigrate to non-English-speaking countries.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    #79
    "Posting 76 is not worth commenting upon meaning this individual can't be serious to imply It's OK for WA to do ANYTHING in terms of Welsh language imposition on the grounds that it originally has support from couple of Westminster MP's"

    Nope - I explained that the Welsh language legislation which set up the so called "language industry" was set up by Act of Parliament - a majority in both houses and was steered through by David Hunt - a thoroughly decent man with no Welsh Nationalist tendencies. It was nothing to do with the Assembly, as it hadn't been created at that time.

    The reason the Assembly has the power to legislate on certain matters relating the the Welsh language is because the UK Parliament (a majority in both houses) decided to allow the Assembly that power. All the main parties put Welsh language legislation in their manifestos - it seems like a reasonable mandate to me.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    This is pathetic!!

    Most of you have gone right off topic. What has the Welsh language to do with this Referendum?...I can not see anything about it in the question that will be asked on March 3

    Why this continuous bickering always on this blog?

    Moderators do something about it please…I thought going “off topic” went against the rules?

  • Comment number 86.

    Alun #85

    Reference; "March 3 Referendum" explanatory booklet issued by the Electoral Commission.

    What are the Law making Powers of the National Assembly for Wales.
    Page 3 - last subject area; The Welsh Language.

    The booklet explains;
    In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others, To make laws on any of these other matters.... is the power the referendum is asking for.

    The turnout, areas of controversy and how the Assembly delivers its powers equitably, all may influence how people wish to vote and are well within the scope of this post and public debate.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    Perhaps we should take note of Alun Thomas's complaint at #85, and consider the main thrust of this thread;

    Exploring WAG's glittering aspirational dream pathway to the future, and realising that its only a facade, covering the horrors of the real rocky road they have planned, only gives most thoughtful Welshmen nightmares.

    That's those who don't vote Plaid, Labour, or abstain.

    So:

    Betsan - The BBC have a Peoples Assembly of 60 members to debate and discuss the referendum.
    people who got in touch after hearing my pleas before Christmas and told us they'd like to be part of our coverage around the referendum and the election in May.

    OK sounds good - were there just 60 applicants, or is this a selected group, if so how was the selection made - on what basis.
    For instance, Is there a balance of opinions say; 25% yes, 25% no, 25% Don't know, and 25% not going to vote.


  • Comment number 93.

    Well, we're back in the good old bad old days, where we see more chips on shoulders than in a McCain's factory and more hatred than on a Cairo street.

    At least Fitz is honest enough to make it quite clear that in his case there is no more to his outbursts than utter contempt for the Welsh language (no.91 et al!), and all who speak it. His is a hatred that is only too clear. Anything that undermines the cultural and linguistic hegemony that he is comfortable with has him drooling with anger over Betsan's blog. And it's not a pretty sight.

    The actual question of the referendum, and who will represent the case for and against has been lost in this vitriol. This small cabal represent a reactionary rump that sees its influence and interests quickly vanish in a country never before this comfortable with itself, and a nation sure of its identity.

    A small cabal that has to resort to talking about 'the Jewish lobby', andwhilst wishing to see the demise of the Welsh language, has lost all sense of proportion, and deserves very little respect

  • Comment number 94.

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  • Comment number 95.

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  • Comment number 96.

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  • Comment number 97.

    Re 96

    "Go check election results for Llafur & Plaid, our One Wales ruling caste?"

    Didn't they win?!!

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    99. At 10:09pm on 31 Jan 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    “the Llafur/Plaid alliance are still the dominant Celtic elite within Wales. But their vote share is crashing, especially in east-Wales.”

    I wouldn’t bet on it, latest poll for the South East shows Liberals collapsing and the Tories losing ground slightly.

 

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