Blair rallies the Welsh to say Yes

Scotland's historic vote

Tony Heath
Friday 12 September 1997 23:02

Crowds jammed the centre of Cardiff yesterday to hear Tony Blair declare: "Scotland has begun a process that Wales should carry on next week".

The prime minister flew to Cardiff to try to ensure a Celtic double next Thursday when Wales delivers its own devolution verdict.

Climbing onto the bandstand in Churchill Way, Mr Blair said devolution was about bringing government closer to the people - government in which services used by the people were dealt with by the people.

"We need a strong voice for Wales, bringing better schools, better jobs and better hospitals. We don't want a country run by quangos", he said to loud cheers.

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown was also in Wales to campaign. He was met by Ron Davies, the Welsh Secretary, who presented him with a large card congratulating Scotland in three languages - English, Welsh and Scottish gaelic.

Mr Brown then drove to Merthyr Tydfil to campaign in the founder of the Labour Party, Keir Hardie's old stronghold. He then went on to visit Tower Colliery in the Cynon Valley which is run as a worker's co-operative.

Labour's partners in the moves toward devolution also joined in the euphoria generated by Scotland's Yes Yes.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Wigley said: "Scotland has shown Wales the way. On 18 September we must ensure that we are not left behind. Scotland appears to have established a parliament with a massive majority and Wales must take this opportunity to follow suit."

On his second campaigning day in Wales the Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown said: "Wider constitutional change is under way following the Scottish poll."

The umbrella Yes campaign were anxious to remind Wales that a high turn out to underpinning devolution was important. Darren Hall, the national organiser said:

"We are extremely encouraged with the Scottish results. We believe it will give our supporters a huge boost."The No campaign was not too dismayed.Nigel Evans, the Swansea-born Tory MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, said he did not believe that Wales would follow. "We will not be bounced into copying that result" he said.

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