AV Referendum: A Welsh View

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By Welsh Siôn

Quite rightly, the Scots are gearing up for an important election to decide who will form the government at Holyrood come next May. Many are already aware that the United Kingdom Referendum on the Alternative Vote question is also to be held on the same day.

At the same time the Welsh will also be going to the polling booths in order to cast their ballots for the National Assembly’s next four-year term on the same day as the proposed AV voting system.

In keeping with London’s self-preoccupation, the lumping of all these elections on a so-called ‘Super Thursday’, days after an orgy fest of British nationalism that will symbolise the Royal Wedding, is sure to swamp any democratic principles and campaigning within our respective nations – whoever we choose to vote for.

Now I am aware – and thanks to conscientious Scots for keeping me up to speed on this – that many from your great nation intend to spoil your AV ballots by writing ‘INDEPENDENCE’ over them, as a protest against a London-centric idea which has little support on your side of Hadrian’s Wall.  I have to tell you now, and acting in a personal capacity, I intend to do likewise to mine by writing the Welsh equivalent – ‘ANNIBYNIAETH’ – thereon.

I urge those Welsh patriots who read this message to do likewise: not only will we be standing shoulder to shoulder with our brave Scottish cousins, we will also be demonstrating our own willingness NOT to be coerced into a policy; a policy proposed by the London-based parties, and good only for the London-based parties.

And can you honestly vote for a policy which its proponents argue will be more advantageous to the Liberal Democrats than any other party when we see how two-faced that party has become now that it has the whiff of power at Westminster?

I repeat my call then – those who value and cherish their Welsh identity over and above that artificial construct of “Britishness” – stand up for our national, young and vibrant democracy. Support the Scots for demonstrating how skewed and dysfunctional the Dis-united Kingdom has become, and proving that any merits the Union once had are no longer to be found in a London-centred clique indifferent to what is happening in our respective great nations.

My second plea is to the inhabitants of Caledonia directly.

Some of you will be aware that the Welsh will be voting in another Referendum prior to May. In this case, 3 March 2011 is the key date. This is the date we get the chance to decide if the National Assembly should acquire further law-making powers. Currently, laws can be made in 20 subject areas such as agriculture, education, the environment, health, housing and local government. In each subject area, it can make laws on some matters, but not on all. (Of course, areas outside these subject areas – foreign policy, defence etc. – are still governed by Westminster).

The 3 March Referendum will then pose the question to the Welsh electorate; do they wish the National Assembly to be able to legislate in all those matters in the 20 subject areas including those which currently they have to ask Westminster’s permission so to do?

I therefore urge fellow Welsh exiles – I live in England but am registered to vote in Wales – be they in Scotland or elsewhere, and registered to vote at home, to vote YES in this Referendum and to join the YES for Wales campaign.

We are building a more politically mature society in Wales, one could even say, constructing a new national identity for ourselves – and we need to demonstrate to the world the strength that underpins our great nation, and let it flourish amongst the other free peoples of the world.

We must seize every chance to demonstrate our internationalism and let others be aware of our identity, so that we may co-operate with them, and work together to the common good. My own viewpoints are perfectly clear. I am sure Scots of goodwill will support us in our endeavours, as we will assist them in theirs.

Sure there will be obstacles along the way. Arch-unionists such as Dr Kim Howells or the True Wales motley crew will proclaim the usual clichés of slippery slopes to independence and all sorts of banal, ill-informed guff. The media will more than likely be against us too – assuming that any reporting will be done. Yet despite this, early opinion polls indicate that the Welsh are willing to let their own politicians have more say in the day-to-day running of the nation, and are less inclined to have the ‘medicine’ administered by London.

Our fight is the same fight as that experienced by many other nations thoughout history and ongoing today. We share the same outlook as many in Scotland, Cataluyna, Euskadi and many others – and are fully aware of how meaningless power centres such as Madrid and London are (and always were) to the concerns of those of us dismissed as “being on the periphery.”

Welsh, Scots, English and other supporters of the views I have espoused above, join us. Vote for true democracy on our island on 3 March and again on 5 May. Show London that far being on the fringes of the political spectrum, we are actually in the vanguard of genuine political change – and to adopt a phrase, change for good – in this multi-national artificial state of ours.

The future then resides in your minds, your hearts and in your decisions when it comes to the ballot boxes. Go to it, and be no longer serfs to foreign, colonially-minded masters with a closed, London-centric mindset – seek the freedom to decide your own destiny, and that of your descendants.

History is there for us to make it – let us therefore seize these opportunities and so create our new futures.