Friday, 21 January 2011
True Wales undoubtedly scored a PR coup be refusing to register to lead the ‘no’ campaign. Their decision undoubtedly put the ‘yes’ camp on the back foot.
But it is likely that the momentary attention they’ve won for themselves will fade away as the campaign gets properly underway.
There is always a superficial attraction in any argument that tax payers shouldn’t have to fit the bill for political campaigns. But, perhaps a pause for thought is required. Is democracy well served if the electors are kept in the dark?
Not having any mail drops, not having any election broadcasts puts the editorial control in the hands of the media.
Such a campaign will be conducted by the rules and regulations of the broadcasters or according to the editorial whim of the newspaper editor. Is that the best way of informing people of the reasoned arguments of both sides?
To pitch a campaign as the people against the politicians is good populist stuff. After the goings on in Westminster on MPs expenses there are still an awful lot of people out there that hold politicians in very low regard.
A campaign that taps into such feelings may just hit the right spot with the voters.
The ‘yes’ side seem to have acknowledged the potency of such an argument by featuring ‘ordinary’ people at their national launch.
But by not going for the lead ‘no’ organization status with the Electoral Commission they may have unwittingly shot themselves in the foot. They seem to have missed the opportunity of getting the views into every household in Wales.
Their arguments can only be effective if people hear about them. To deny themselves an opportunity of putting them across is like winking at a member of the opposite sex in the dark, well meaning but completely ineffective.
But, it does pose a major dilemma to those who would like to see Welsh people making an informed choice on 3 March. How will the argument be put so that the voters are motivated to turn out?
In the media? But many Welsh voters still get their information from London based media outlets. Indeed the majority of the voters fall into this category. The media is not known for its coverage of Welsh affairs.
Street and public meetings? Even the best organized political campaigns only touch a very small number in this way. The answer is, not many. Few will hear, and even fewer will as a consequence act.
So expect a low turnout on the day. Then the incrimination will begin. The shout will be 'the results lack democratic validity.' Wales will not be well served if that happens.
No, True Wales have not done the ‘people’ a favour. It’s not the elite that suffer when democracy fails, but the people.