Set your alarms early

When each new dawn breaks I'm more likely to be thinking about going to bed rather than struggling to get out of it; but whatever the time we usually set our alarms at, I'd urge everyone to make it fifteen minutes earlier just for tomorrow. It's a special day.

     

Use five minutes for a more leisurely cup of tea or coffee, then use the other ten to take a small detour to the polling station on the way to work, or wherever else tomorrow morning takes you. This referendum vote may not be the biggest step forward we'll take, but it's a step we need to take now and one which all the polls show we are ready for. And even though there are very good reasons for taking this one step whether we go any further or not—reasons which I've written about on many occasions before—I want to make it clear that I see this as just the next step towards an independent Wales. I think those who share this view need to say it loudly and clearly before tomorrow's referendum rather than after it.

Others campaigning for a Yes vote might well have different reasons for doing so. Some will want to take this step and a few steps further. Some will want to take this step but not move any further. Perhaps some might look for guarantees that devolution will not go any further, but there aren't any guarantees. In a democracy, things will change when enough of us want them to change and are prepared to vote for parties that will implement those changes.

As soon as this vote is won—as I am sure it will be—I will be focusing on what comes next. Some of the more obvious things are devolution of the justice system, police and prisons in the same way as these are currently devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland; the ability to set rates of taxation as Scotland can do now with income tax and will soon be able to do with other taxes, and as Northern Ireland is set to be able to do with corporation tax; the control of our coastline and our marine resources; and the ability to set our own energy policy and our own priorities for transport and other infrastructure, rather than rely on the priorities of a government that can only ever have a 5% interest in Wales and a 95% interest in the rest of our island.

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So I, for one, am not going to try and make out that I only want to go so far, afraid that people might not share my vision for where the devolution journey should end and might vote No because of it. Why? Because there is absolutely nothing for people to be afraid of. We're not on some slippery slope; instead the task at hand is for us to clear the way for the next step, consolidate the ground to give us a firm foothold, and then take it and each subsequent step forward together, with our eyes wide open, because we are convinced that they are the right steps for us to take as a nation.

If I and the others who share this view cannot convince others in Wales then we cannot move forward together, and I wouldn't want us to. But if the last decade has shown us anything, it's that we can convince others: just look at the way we have changed the minds of parties like the Welsh Tories, who were once vehemently against any form of devolution; and of Welsh Labour, who only a few years ago were reluctant about or openly opposed to taking the step we will take tomorrow ... at least until well after the current generation of Labour politicians had retired. We are on the right side of this argument, so we need to have the confidence to keep taking it forward rather than think that having crossed one small hurdle we should take a breather and let things settle down for a few years.

Put simply, we cannot afford to stay either where we are now, or where we will be after the results of the referendum are announced on Friday. For, as if anyone hadn't noticed, Wales is in a bad position economically and our communities and society as a whole are under tremendous strain because of it. Plenty of the hard choices we have made are right, especially those things that are built on our values as a nation, but which sadly are no longer shared by our neighbours. Yet plenty of what we have been doing is wrong. We need the courage to say so and the self-confidence to build the better Wales we want on the foundation of what is important to us.

The vote tomorrow will be a mark of that self-confidence. Be part of it.

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4 comments:

Owen said...

Heart - Wales has the confidence to make laws for itself.

Head - Voting yes removes a cumbersome and unnecessary bureaucratic process that insults and patronises the electorate, MP's and the Assembly.

Open and shut case. Vote "No" and you could argue you don't have either a heart or an adults head.........but they probably would have a pram.

Anonymous said...

I'm nervous about the vote tomorrow. All yes voters need to get every single vote out. Every family member, sisters, brothers, the 'not bothered'. We remember how close 97 was, every single vote counted. I'm convinced there's an inbuilt 'tory denial' factor in the opinion poles that is, people not saying they're against the assembly but will actually vote against it.

Every single vote counts. Every single one.

Valleys Mam said...

Already voted -postal voted Yes

Anonymous said...

anon...while you are right to be cautious...and right in stressing the importance of everyone turning out to vote yes and not taking anything for granted....remember that by this time in 97 the polls had narrowed right down...and it was too close to call....nothing like the current situation which sees our lead actually increasing as we prepare to vote!

Let's make tomorrow the second greatest day in the history of our wonderful little nation - VOTE YES!!!

Leigh Richards

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