Faith groups back change in crucial Welsh vote

By staff writers
2 Mar 2011

Faith communities as well as secular groups, charities, businesses, environmentalists, women and others are lining up behind a 'Yes' vote in the Welsh Assembly referendum.

The vote takes place tomorrow (3 March 2011), and is about giving direct powers to the Assembly in a range of key domestic matters - rather than decisions having to be referred to London.

A Yougov opinion poll for S4C on St David’s Day (I March) has the ‘Yes’ vote on 67 per cent and the ‘No’ vote on 33 per cent. But the 'Yes for Wales' campaign has warned that victory can only be achieved if ‘Yes’ voters turn up at the polling booths.

Public supporters of the ‘Yes’ vote 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, though they have not recommended a particular vote in the referendum.

Politicians from a variety of parties and ordinary people across the country are also backing change, says 'Yes for Wales'. The far-right BNP and UKIP are opposing it.

The 'no' campaign refused to register publicly, in a ruse to deny funds to those favouring the reform. Observers say that they have used similar negative, spoiling tactics to opponents of the AV 'fairer votes' campaign across the UK.

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.

The beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia is also backing a 'Yes' vote. Co-director Simon Barrow commented on 1 March: “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.”

The ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign can be found at: http://www.yesforwales.com/

[Ekk/3]

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