Letter: Welsh referendum

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Sir: The Welsh referendum was intended by the Government to build on the apparent enthusiasm for devolution shown in the results of the May general election; in fact the deeply underwhelming "Yes" result has undermined this enthusiasm.

Just 25 per cent of the Welsh electorate voted in favour of the principle of a Welsh assembly, with the other 75 per cent either voting against or abstaining. By contrast, at the general election, 57 per cent of the Welsh electorate voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Welsh Nationalist, with these parties taking nearly four out of five of the votes actually cast. All these parties were committed, as a central part of their respective manifestos, to some form of devolution.

Given that little more than one in three of the Welsh electorate were prepared to go out and vote, the referendum result hardly represents a convincing mandate to push the proposals through the two Houses of Parliament. At worst for the Government, the results suggest that there has been a total collapse in support for devolution and that a longer campaign might have led to the proposal being rejected altogether.

M C FITZPATRICK

Head of Economics

Chantrey Vellacott

London WC1

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