EDINBURGH, CARDIFF & LONDON, 13 February 2011: People of all beliefs and none are swinging behind a ‘Yes’ vote in the 3 March referendum in Wales on giving full law-making powers to the Welsh Assembly – with the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia being the latest to back the move, on St David's Day.
Simon Barrow, the co-director of Ekklesia, commented: “This is the next logical step in the devolution and empowerment process – which is about giving the localities and nations of these islands a real say and stake in governing their lives. For people of faith – and those of no religious belief but plenty of ‘good faith’ – accessible, accountable and effective governance is about calling power to account.”
The Rev Aled Edwards, a leading ecumenist and community campaigner in Wales, adds: “A ‘Yes’ vote would enable faith communities in Wales to play a key role in enabling the Assembly to pass principled and well thought-through legislation - especially around the environment, human rights and equality issues. There is a moral dimension in continuing to constrain legislative aspirations in these areas.”
“Wales should not suffer having to spend generations passing laws on the basis of having bits of powers over bits of things,” adds Edwards – who has initiated the ‘Clergy Say Yes’ group.
Public supporters of the ‘Yes’ vote on Thursday 3 March include the Most Rev Barry Morgan (Anglican Archbishop of Wales), Saleem Kidwai (Muslim Council of Wales), the Presbyterian Church of Wales, and the Union of Welsh Independents.
A message distributed by Catholic bishops to churches across Wales has also backed strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the Welsh Assembly. Secular charities, women’s groups, environmentalists, businesses, politicians from a variety of parties and ordinary people across the country are also backing change.
Ekklesia’s Simon Barrow added: “The breadth of the coalition favouring proper powers for the Welsh Assembly is remarkable, and when you look at the policy implications you can see why. A more co-ordinated approach to mental healthcare which provided better support to the ill, and sought more effective use of health, welfare and related budgets had to wait three years because of the existing bureaucratic process. That cannot be right or rational. In these terms, saying ‘Yes for Wales’ is a matter of good faith – whatever your belief background.”
Notes to editors
1. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from an independent Christian perspective. It has been listed by The Independent newspaper among 20 influential UK think-tanks. According to Alexa/Amazon, it has one of the most-visited religion and politics / current affairs websites in Britain. More: http://ekklesia.co.uk/content/about/about.shtml
2. Background to this issue is outlined in ‘More powers for the Welsh Assembly: the moral case’, by Aled Edwards (Ekklesia, 4 Feb 2011). http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14085
3. Aled Edwards is a leading ecumenist and equalities campaigner in Wales. Since the advent of the National Assembly in May 1999 Aled has written and commented extensively on a number of issues affecting modern Wales. He has also contributed to several TV and radio debates particularly on human rights, race relations, devolved Welsh governance, the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in Wales and the continuing work of Wales' faith communities in a rapidly changing society. Aled is the Chair of Displaced People in Action. His website is: http://www.alededwards.com/
4. The ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign can be found at: http://www.yesforwales.com/
5. For further comment: Simon Barrow, Ekklesia (simonDOTbarrowATekklesiaDOTcoDotuk) and Aled Edwards (aledATalededwardsDOTcom).