Friday, 21 January 2011

Own Goal?

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.


  1. Its sad you don't dig a bit deeper to find the critiria was always against True Wales they could not compete so they withdraw with dignity. Now the other side is destroying the principle by accussing the No camp the debate not in public domain is their fault you are slanting your remarks in favour of the Yes. So ask yourself with all the main parties lined up against the No Campaign and rules restricting achievement plus chase the money paid to fronts in yes campaign alongside the L C O's are a tecnical adjustment that were intruduced by Hain with out a referendum that amounts to making laws without power so what will they do with power The argument the No's are depriving information reaching the public is unfair when all they really have done is saved a little tax payers cash flow and last where is the big hitters bit bias all round here

  2. a quite devastating analysis of the corner true wales have painted themselves into gareth as a result of their bizarre decsion not to seek to be registered as the NO campaign in this referendum.

    The impact of the decision on the yes campaign will be far less. The yes campaign is already organsing huge meetings of local supporters right across wales - for example 200 in aberystwyh, 150 in swansea, 100 in neath and 100 in bangor - and will im sure be able to finance literature presenting the yes case out of money raised from donations from local supporters.Thus in swansea we have already raised enough money locally to be able to distribute forty thousand leaflets across the city.

    Given that in reality true wales - and i will not dignify them any longer by calling them the NO campaign - barely exists outside small pockets of gwent and has no real 'grassroots' anywhere to speak of it really is very hard to see how they are going to be able to get their message across to the people of wales.

    Unless of course unbeknown to us they have secured the financial backing of a millionaire 'sugardaddy' as they did with jersey based julian hodge in 97.

    Leigh Richards

  3. also worth pointing out in response to neil jock greer that true wales decision to run away from the challenge of being the official No campaign has not saved taxpayers any money as the electoral commission will now have to put out literature giving each sides point of view - out of public money!

    Leigh Richards

  4. True Wales have cut off their noses despite their faces and a lack of TV and radio broadcasts outlining the arguments will mean less people learning about what this referendum is all about. But I don't think True Wales can be accused of strangling democracy by taking the debate to street level.

    That's a little strong as the EC will have to do what it's paid to do anyway (and doesn't do that well most of the time) and get people engaged in the democratic process.

    I'd rather the well supported, well funded and well organised Yes camp stopped acting like a playground bully and got creative in galvanising the Yes vote now the telly and radio is off limits rather than wallowing in the fact that True Wales trumped them with their PR stunt.

    Turn out will be low, not because people wont be able to get their views on the airwaves, but because after 10+ years of devolution the majority of Welsh people, the everyday folk who just crack on with things, don't feel a connection to the Assembly.

    Ill vote Yes because the system needs simplyfying and is frankly a pain in the ass for effective law making, not because the smug Yes campaign tells me its only way people should vote. Implying that your a little dumb and not a Welsh patriot for thinking otherwise.

    But this is a phoney war. The battle at the polls in May is what I'm looking forward to when all the politicos, AM wannabes and the power hungry will have to work damn hard to convince me that they will be able to handle the new powers they will get in March and do something substantial for Wales.

    Chris, Cardiff

  5. Leigh Richards, The No Wales had no choice but to walk away they could not fill the critiria of the rules the e/commission laid down to hold the referendum, by not being able they had no choice.
    In essence they are not a political group just people that thought a No vote is right at this time. By stating they have saved the taxpayers money that is true they have taken none at all in as much all they did is form a base that may have been able to put the other sides point of view over. Yet just look at some of the comments made against them its frightning to read the personal attacks, anti welsh against welsh people vile national jibes its never been seen a referendum like this. What good will this referendum do to outsiders trying to make sense when a low turnout rules in a one sided answer they will claw wales apart for spending 5million plus for a one sided argument that no politician seems to want to air yet straight after the 3rd March you won't see them of posters telly and frontpages trying to get elected its getting farcical with the one sided argument. We need balanced debate and politicians should engage

  6. "In essence they are not a political group"

    A somewhat harsh judgement on the Islwyn Labour Party, don't you think Neil?

  7. yes neil - 'balanced debate' is of course a good thing! But the stark reality is that true wales decision to refuse to put themselves forward as the official No campaign has now made that virtually impossible in this campaign.

    What good will this referendum do? Well if there's a yes it will certainly make the process of devolution for wales more efficient and effective than the current costly, cumbersome and time consuming process...and even if the decision is No at least the people of wales will have been consulted on this major constitutional issue.

    We in wales should be proud of the fact that we do consult the welsh people on major constitutional issues such as this - contrast this with succesive british government's refusal to consult people over the lisbon treaty!

    Leigh Richards

  8. Of course following True Wales cowardly decision there is now nothing to stop another anti-devolution organisation such as UKIP from putting itself foward as the NO campaign. Indeed i would have thought a campaign such as this would have presented an avowedly anti-assembly organisation such as ukip - which i believe is still in favour of the welsh assembly's abolition - with an ideal oportunity to put its anti-devolution credentials to the public test in wales.

    But it seems there is no one in wales willing...or put the no case....a savage indictment of the overall weakness of the No position i think.

    Leigh Richards

  9. It would seem that things are hotting up in this debate, but did have to refuse one comment because it may have been a libel. I will as a rule post most comments whatever the opinion but I tend to draw the line on comments that in my opinion are potentially actionable.

  10. I take your point over my last post may be a bit hot to handle but the comments arise from the official enquiry of the Yes Vote launch and the lead campaigning group launched using school children has now seen the head teacher stand down from the campaign. It will be interesting to see who goes next over this Lee Waters it seems is hot favorite I guess?