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Sharp End and politics round-up

It’s a Sharp End day today so a lot of my time and attention is being taken up with that, but there are a couple of strands to pick up on briefly.

Electrification of the London to Swansea rail line.

Ieuan Wyn Jones says electrification of the main line through to Swansea is "essential" for Wales (Photo: Philip Roberts)

* The Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has been at Swansea railway station today stating as clearly as possible how important the Assembly Government sees electrification.

It’s a move clearly designed to put pressure on the Department for Transport to make the decision to electrify the line all the way to Swansea.

Countering the view that it wouldn’t make a massive amount of difference other than simply shortening journey times, Mr Jones said:

Electrification of the rail line all the way from London through to Swansea is essential to Wales. It is not simply just about shortening journey times. Electrification is an issue of vital strategic importance – it would boost Wales’ economy, help achieve our ambitions for the environment and benefit perceptions of us as a nation.

* Meanwhile according to a Whitehall source, the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan has held high-level talks about electrification with the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister.

She’s said to have told David Cameron and Nick Clegg in ‘no uncertain terms’ how important the project is to Wales.

* The Department for Transport says the final decision is still yet to be made. The prediction is though that it will ‘go right down to the wire.’

My colleague Esyllt Carr will have more on this story in Wales Tonight at 6pm ITV1 Wales.

Powers Referendum

We’re in uncharted territory with this now. Last night’s decision by the No campaigners, True Wales, not to seek the status of official No campaign has completely changed the dynamics of the pre-campaign.

If there's no official No campaign there can be no official Yes campaign

The Electoral Commission’s rules mean that if there’s no official lead No campaign, there can’t be an official lead Yes campaign either. That’s the scenario we’re left with now.

But there’s a complication. The blogger Miserable Old Fart had applied to be the official No campaign in order to make the point that he doesn’t think what’s on offer in the referendum goes far enough.

It’s highly unlikely that he could be designated as the lead campaign but the Electoral Commission is obliged to give his application due consideration.

It means we won’t get a final answer until some time next week.

In the meantime the Commission has published a list of registered groups who are permitted to take part in the campaign.

So far they are Yes For Wales, Tomorrow’s Wales, Unison, Plaid Cymru and the Monster Raving Loony party’s Mark Beech (who’s the sole registered No group so far).

True Wales and Welsh Labour’s Yes campaign are expected to join that list.

Sharp End

In tonight’s programme we’ll look at what’s going on – or not going on – in the referendum campaign. Esyllt Carr reports on what effect the Westminster coalition is having on the Lib Dems and the Conservatives here in Wales.

And I talk to Dafydd Wigley as he prepares to clad himself in ermine and join the House of Lords.

My guests are the former Labour MP for Pontypridd, Kim Howells; the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott and the Western Mail’s Senedd Correspondent, Matt Withers.

Join me for Sharp End, 1035pm ITV1 Wales.


About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.



  1. Pingback: Plaid’s electrification plans « ITV Wales - February 16, 2011

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