Monday, 17 September 2007

Parliament for Cymru Will Surely Be a Reality

Reprinted from the Western Mail

Parliament for
Wales says poll

Sep 17 2007

by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

SUPPORT for a Scottish-style parliament in Wales has doubled in the 10 years since the country voted in favour of devolution, a new opinion poll will reveal tonight.The research, undertaken by the Institute of Welsh Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, shows a dramatic decline in anti-devolution sentiment since the knife-edge referendum 10 years ago.The findings, to be shown on S4C documentary Datganoli tonight, come on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the referendum, which saw a tiny majority of just 6,721 – or 0.3% – voting to create the Assembly.Since 1997 the institute has carried out regular surveys of public attitudes towards devolution, always asking voters to state their preferred constitutional solution – independence, a Parliament, an Assembly or no devolution at all.Support for independence has hovered at the same level for a decade, 14% then and 12% now, while an Assembly had the support of 27% polled in 1997 and 28% today.But the big changes are in support for a legislative Parliament, similar to the one in Scotland – up from 20% in 1997 to 43% now – and the decline in the anti-devolution vote: 40% then and just 17% now. A further analysis of the date shows an age-divide, with the under-35s far more likely to support a deepening of devolution.More than 50% of 18-34-year- olds support a Scottish-style parliament, compared with 35% of those aged 65 and over.By contrast, only 14% of those aged between 18-34 are opposed to any form of devolution compared with 24% of over-65s.The data will delight supporters of a new referendum on whether to move from the current Assembly to a full Welsh parliament.The One Wales coalition document agreed by Labour and Plaid in the summer contains a commitment to hold such a poll before 2011 – subject to votes in favour in Cardiff and Westminster.The agreement also commits to an assessment of the likelihood of a “Yes” vote before a poll is triggered.Backers of a parliament will take heart from the Aberystwyth data, but several Labour MPs and many Conservatives will remain deeply sceptical about the merits of further change..A halfway-house system, whereby the Assembly can legislate with the permission of Westminster, came into force in May and will be used for the first time in the coming weeks.

The Aberystwyth research also shows an increase in support for devolution amongst women, a reversal of the situation in 1997. Women were 5% more likely than men to be anti-devolution in 1997, but are now 5% less likely to answer the question in the same way.Dr Richard Wyn Jones, the director of the Institute of Welsh Politics and presenter of the three-part S4C documentary, said, “Back in 1997 the Welsh people were deeply divided on the issue of devolution. Only a quarter of the electorate voted in favour of establishing an Assembly with another quarter voting against. The remaining half didn’t care enough to vote at all.“The majority in favour – 6,721 – was tiny, representing only 0.3% of the Welsh electorate.“In all of this the contrast with Scotland could not have been more marked. As predicted by former Labour leader John Smith, when given the opportunity, Scottish voters conclusively demonstrated that establishing a Scottish Parliament was their ‘settled will’ by returning an overwhelming Yes vote in their referendum.“Ten years on, however, and it’s clear that devolution is the ‘settled will’ in Wales too.“Indeed, given the shaky foundations provided by the 1997 referendum, as well as the faltering progress of devolved government, the massive surge in support for the principle of devolution is quite remarkable.”Professor Roger Scully, also of the Institute of Welsh Politics, said, “The numbers of young Welsh people who don’t remember life before devolution grow every day. To them, devolved government and multi-party politics are normal; it is government from London and sustained one-party domination of Wales that will increasingly come to be as alien to them as the Age of Empire and the White Man’s Burden are to us.”

The first part of Datganoli is shown on S4C tonight at 9pm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The good thing is that all these old anti-devolution gits are kicking the bucket in vast numbers. Trouble is they get replaced by all these retirees from Telford and points east.