Inaugural meeting of the Monmouth Says YES! campaign to gain streamlined powers in the Welsh Assembly at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. 27/01/2011
On the 3rd of March 2011, the residents of Wales will have an opportunity to vote on the future of the Welsh Assembly. As things stand the Welsh Assembly Members have to ask permission from London before they can pass laws in areas that are already the responsibility of the Assembly. This a somewhat feudal approach and causes delays in enacting legislative changes because the process takes a long time to be approved and signed off.
Affordable housing projects, promotion of recycling activities, and improving mental health treatment have suffered from delays because of this situation.
If Wales votes "YES", then this will make the process of legislative change much faster. This change will not add to the Assemblies areas of responsibility. It will improve the efficiency of the Assembly, and make the assembly more cost-effective and more accountable to the people of Wales.
The Scottish people along with Northern Ireland shook off the shackles of Whitehall years ago and now Wales is the odd country out with the rule of England still gripping the heart of Wales, like a feudal Baron of old exercising his "rights".
The Welsh are a proud race and now seek to sever this unjust and ancient grip that has served to stifle, frustrate and prevent positive changes in legislation for Wales.
A public meeting was held at the Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny on 27th January 2010 to mark the official launch of the "Monmouthshire Say Yes" Campaign.
Maggie Harris, Secretary of the "Monmouth Says Yes" campaign, acted as a moderator.
Some 50 plus people turned up and listened to a cross section of political and public views . an impressive line up consisted of:
Nick Ramsay A.M. (Conservative) who spoke in favour of the "Yes" vote, alongside him was an up and coming political star, Will Griffiths, (youth representative for the Lib-Dems), who is a student of Politics at Cardiff University, Former Labour M.P. for Monmouth town, Huw Edwards, Councillor Fiona Cross from Torfaen County Borough who is prospective Plaid Cymru Candidate for the forthcoming Assembly elections). The Green Party was represented by Chris Weare, the prospective Green Party Candidate. A further speaker was Veronica German, AM (Lib-Dem), wife of The Lord German O.B.E. Among the public was a particularly passionate speaker, Frank Olding, a well known Historian, who made a faultless case for voting "Yes!".
At the official launch of the “Monmouthshire says Yes” campaign, Nick Ramsay, the conservative AM for Monmouth, refuted the myths peddled by the no camp. He told the large audience:
“This referendum is not about new powers – it is about streamlined powers. It is about giving Wales the right to legislate in the devolved areas. Members of the Assembly should have the right to fulfil the mandate they’ve won in an election.”
“This referendum is also not about tax-raising powers. There is no such proposal. In fact, streamlining the process by which Welsh laws are made will save the tax-payer money. This referendum is simply about democracy - improving Welsh democracy.”
Will Griffiths pointed out that is takes up to three years for Westminster to scrutinise Welsh laws: “The Environmental Protection and Waste Management measure – a measure vital for the protection of the environment of Wales – was announced in June 2007 and only received royal assent in February 2010. This expensive Whitehall bureaucracy is costly an inefficient. If the Welsh tax payers want more political bang for their buck, they must vote “yes”. A “Yes” vote is a vote for an efficient Welsh government!”
Fiona Cross argued that the people of Wales need to give Assembly politicians the tools to get the job done for Wales: “We must take this message into every home in Wales – the people of Wales just need to believe in themselves!”
Chris Were, Green candidate for the Assembly elections, thought said that Wales should be treated on an equal basis with Scotland and Northern Ireland: “We should no longer be treated like the baby of the family. Wales needs to take responsibility and the politicians need to be able to get on with the job. Wales needs legislative power and Wales is ready for it!”
In closing the meeting, Huw Edwards complimented Nick Ramsay on having the courage of his convictions: “Wales needs to be self-confident. We lead the way in innovative government. Business leaders say devolution has helped them with easier access to ministers. Farmers are impressed by the Assembly’s record in agriculture. Devolution works – it has retained the Educational Maintenance Allowance for young people in Wales and it has stopped tuition top-up fees for Welsh Students.
He went on to emphasise the importance of a “Yes” vote in Monmouthshire: “Monmouthshire is significant – the 10,000 Monmouthshire voters who voted “Yes” for devolution in 1997 won the referendum for Wales. If we win Monmouthshire, we win Wales!
The referendum will be held on March 3rd 2011.