A Welsh tale of two referendums

A Welsh tale of two referendums

Just as in Dickens’ famous A Tale of Two Cities, we can start this tale with: “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times” (not to mention the worst deal in history).

Our country has been deliberately divided by the establishment, big business and the lily-livered politicians who do not understand the Pandora’s box they are opening.

In 1997, Tony Blair’s victorious Labour Government rushed in devolution throughout the United Kingdom. This was a second referendum, after Scotland and Wales voted against it in the 1979 referendums. Wales voted overwhelmingly against devolution in 1979, while the minimum turnout threshold was not reached in Scotland.

In 1997, the Scots voted significantly for devolution while in Wales, the people were not as convinced. It was a close-run contest, with the final declaration of Carmarthenshire giving victory to the devolutionists, by a nail-biting 6,721 votes.

The final score: for devolution 50.3% and against devolution 49.7%.

Of the 22 Welsh Council Areas, 11 voted for devolution and 11 voted against.

There was no sulking, no calls for a second referendum, no stalling. We accepted the voice of the people (albeit on just a 50.22% turnout) and stood aside to allow the Government and the bureaucrats to institute the Welsh Assembly – the biggest political change to happen in Wales in over 800 years.

Fast forward to 2016 and on a staggering 71.7% turnout, 17 Welsh Council Areas voted to Leave the European Union, with only 5 voting to Remain in the European Union.

The final score: 52.5% voted to Leave and 47.5% to Remain in the European Union. Wales, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, had voted decisively to leave.

However, the losers’ attitude to Brexit has been nothing short of disgraceful. On the night, as the results were coming in, Labour’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there was a “fair chunk of distrust in politicians” as the reason for Wales voting Leave.

So, what are he and the rest of the Cardiff establishment doing to rebuild that distrust?

They immediately started dragging their feet, claiming it was too close a result to honour. Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, started demanding we stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, despite the fact his own constituency of Bridgend voted to Leave.

The media, of course, did their bit, using emotive words like “cliff edge” and “hard Brexit” – and of course labelled those who simply wanted a real Brexit as extremists and on the fringes of their parties. For every one Brexiteer seen on TV or heard on radio, there were a handful of Remainers to counter their arguments.

Anglesey, where I live, voted to Leave and I was ecstatic. It was one of the highlights of results night. I knew the importance of Wales voting to Leave. I worked unceasingly alongside a band of dedicated men and women, not just in the run-up to the vote, but for over a decade prior to it. We knew that if only England (the old enemy) voted to Leave and dragged the other UK nations out of the EU, it would never work. It was crucial that at least one more UK nation voted to Leave, as it took the fire out of the nationalists’ argument.

The fact that we got a better result in Wales than in England was the cherry on the top of a very big cake.

So where do we go from here?

The years of work, the foundations we laid and the spark that we lit are still there, burning bright. The people are all the more determined to get their Brexit. The politicians are playing with fire, as they ignore and dismiss the voice of the Welsh people. I am amazed when I speak to complete strangers how adamant they are about the reasons why they voted to Leave and what they now expect from their elected servants.

Our democracy is too important and too sacred to be trampled on by cowards who lack any faith in our country, in our people and who lack vision. After all, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

We owe it to our fellow countrymen to spread our vision with courage and with the conviction that all will be well in the end. It always is!