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Welsh public urged to vote in assembly powers referendum

Assembly, powers referendum, referendum, Wales, Welsh referendum, Welsh Assembly

The polling stations will be open from 7am - 10pm on Thursday for the assembly powers referendum

People in Wales have been urged to come out and cast their vote in Thursday’s referendum.

Representatives from the Yes and No sides have been on the campaign trail for the final time before voters go to the polling station.

And former first minister Rhodri Morgan has highlighted the recent unrest in Egypt and Libya as a prime example of why people should exercise their democratic right to vote.

Read Adrian Masters’ latest blog post on the assembly powers referendum: “For some, no still means no”

He said: “The atmosphere in Wales is completely different from the previous referendums of 1979 and 1997.

“People in Wales have lost their fear of autonomy.

“That fear, between the North and South, of each other has evaporated because of the assembly.

“Turnout tomorrow is going to be crucial. We are appealing to everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“It is much easier for the people of Wales to vote tomorrow than many of the people who are trying to win the right for democracy in the Middle East.”

Labour AM Mr Morgan was one of four speakers at the Say Yes For Wales organised event in Chapter Arts Centre, Canton – alongside NUS Wales president Katie Dalton, Welsh Conservative Caroline Oag and Say Yes For Wales chairs Roger Lewis and Ali Yassine.

Mr Lewis, who is also chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, described today as the “final lap” for the Yes campaign to show the people of Wales why more legislative powers would be a good thing.

He argued that Wales should have “Welsh solutions for Welsh problems” and a No vote would leave the principality marginalised and forgotten about.

“How would the world view us if we voted no?” he asked. “How would people who want to invest in Wales feel about us if we voted no?

“If we want respect beyond Wales, we need self-respect and we need to take on responsibility.”

Deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, of Plaid Cymru, also went on the campaign trail for the Yes camp – joining supporters outside a supermarket in Cardiff.

He said: “People in Wales are no less capable of making their own decisions than those in Scotland or Northern Ireland, yet our current system is primitive in comparison.

“The referendum, which takes tomorrow, asks voters whether the Assembly should progress to part four of the 2006 Government of Wales Act, which gives powers to the Assembly only for 20 specific topics.

If a Yes vote is passed, the Assembly will be able to have primary legislative powers – and would be able to pass its own laws in its devolved areas without having approval from Westminster.

But No campaigners, such as True Wales say the institution does not deserve being able to pass its own laws.

They were backed by former Wales Office and defence minister Lord Touhig, who said the Assembly is not yet “geared up to handle additional powers”.

Rachel Banner, of True Wales, said supporters had been leafleting in a number of places, such as Mold, Wrexham, Blackwood, Swansea and Carmarthen.

She said: “We are telling people to make sure they go out and vote – we are quite concerned about a low turnout because a Yes vote could have far-reaching consequences for the UK constitution.

“I don’t agree with the sentiment that a No vote is a step back for Wales, or the view that the election will be the best way to voice any dissatisfaction with the Assembly.

“On Friday, if it transpires that a Yes vote has been passed, then politicians will say that it is an endorsement of the Assembly and how successful it has been.

“But the fact is the Assembly has not just failed since the Government Of Wales Act in 2006, it has consistently not lived up to its promise since its inception.

“We are in favour of us having an Assembly, and it can play a useful role in Wales, but not as a centralised form of government which is what we fear it is becoming.

“Ms Banner, who described herself as a lifelong Labour supporter, said that due to increasing poverty in Wales, the principality did not need to become more isolated from Westminster.

She added: “The Welsh Affairs Select Committee is an example of how those with expertise on both sides of the border can help Wales prosper. If a Yes vote is passed I fear we will be throwing away that knowledge and expertise.”




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