Welsh referendum hit by apathy – and an inflatable pig
Voters not greatly engaged by lacklustre campaign
Even an 8ft inflatable pink pig paraded through the streets of Welsh towns and villages has failed to generate much interest in Thursday's referendum on the future of the Assembly.
The vote is not about giving Cardiff Bay more money. It is not even about giving it more powers. It is about speeding up how existing powers are administered. Basically, Cardiff's decisions would be implemented directly without ratification from Westminster.
So far the campaign has been notable for a lack of official Yes and No camps, for accusations of homophobia on Twitter – and for apathy. And the inflatable pig. It is a DIY porcine metaphor around which opponents of the move to speed up Cardiff's law-making have gathered. Pigs might fly. Snouts in the trough. Er... Animal Farm? Take your pick.
The pig, belonging to the True Wales No campaign, was parading through the streets of Fleur de Lis village near Caerphilly on Thursday. Gripping its lead was the campaign's agricultural spokesman, Nigel Bull. "I'm an ordinary chap who feels passionately about this," he says. "Most people are like myself – just extremely disappointed with the Assembly since its inception 12 years ago."
Opponents of making life easier for the Assembly point to its record. Two in five Welsh children reach secondary school more than a year behind in their reading. Former mining communities have not seen the promised economic rejuvenation. Fears over law and order are high.
The cross-party Yes campaign, fronted by Roger Lewis, group chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, suggests the delays in wielding power are what has held Wales back. The Assembly has authority to pass laws in 20 areas, including health, education and the environment. But, unlike Scotland or Northern Ireland, to legislate on the detail it must effectively get permission from London. Wales was the first government to vote for a smoking ban, but was beaten by Scotland in implementing it.
"We can't afford to have a government in the slow lane in Wales in a fast-changing world," says Carwyn Jones, the Labour First Minister. He is confident they are winning the argument, and the doorstep pitch is well rehearsed. "If people want the Assembly to be doing more rather than talking about doing more, vote Yes."
Turnout is crucial. Some polls suggest it could struggle to reach 40 per cent, although the Yes campaign looks to be ahead.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...