In Wales: Little England holds the key


Although the handle "Little England beyond Wales" still lives on in Pembrokeshire, opposition to devolution may just be on the wane. Even long-standing opponents detect faint signs of change.

For the dream of a Welsh Assembly to become reality, the people of Pembrokeshire will have to turn out in numbers on 18 September and vote "Yes" in the referendum.

In 1979, the rejection by the people of Pembrokeshire was decisive when Wales opposed devolution by 4 to 1. The explanation for that decision lies partly in geography. Pembrokeshire is to Wales as Cornwall is to England: a peninsula which is physically and psychologically semi-detached and somewhat independent-minded.

Ian Bell, chairman of the Pembrokeshire Hotels and Restaurants Association is no lover of the Government's proposals. However, he concedes that views have changed since 1979's four-to-one defeat of devolution proposals: "I reckon today it's 60-40 against an assembly."

His hotel stands on a bluff overlooking Saundersfoot, a tidy resort which received a share of the 70,000 tons of oil which spewed from the stricken Sea Empress at Milford Haven 18 months ago.

Today the beaches have recovered from the disaster which pushed Pembrokeshire into the news and up the political agenda.

Michael Williams, who represents Tenby, the area's premier resort, on Pembrokeshire County Council, believes that bodies like the Milford Haven Port Authority which faces prosecution by the Environment Agency over the accident, could be reined in by an elected body.

"Wales has become a quango-state and there's a growing desire for non- elected bodies being made more accountable."

Nick Ainger, MP for Pembrokeshire South and Carmarthen West, senses the devolution tide rising: "A lot has changed in 18 years. The election campaign down here revealed that many who voted `No' in 1979, are on the move."

"The Callaghan government was exhausted in 1979 after five years in office," Jackie Lawrence, MP for Prescelli Pembroke points out. "Today there is an air of confidence following Labour's victory on 1 May."

She said that there must be a change in the current situation which sees Wales' 1,273 elected councillors being outnumbered by 1,400 quango appointees who are responsible for nearly a third of the annual pounds 7bn Welsh Office budget.

There is still a lot to play for in a county where, thanks to a heavily fretted coastline and tidal rivers, salt water is never more than 10 miles away.

Pembrokeshire County Council is holding fire until next month when it will meet to decide its stance. But earlier this week, acting in a personal capacity, council chair, Peter Stock, launched the Pembrokeshire "No" campaign.

At the launch, two thousand balloons were released over Haverfordwest, each one representing the cost of 10 hip replacements which the anti- devolutionists claim could be paid for with the pounds 117m they say the assembly will cost over a four-year period. Mr Stock said: "We fought hard and successfully for the return of our unitary authority only to be faced now with a proposal for an additional tier of government."

That is a point of view strenuously opposed by his colleague, Thomas Tudor who chairs the county's "Yes" campaign.

The Prime Minister, who concentrated on the industrial south when he visited Wales last month, is expected to cross the Severn Bridge again before 18 September. His Englishness could give the "Yes" campaign a boost in "Little England beyond Wales".

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn