Well, the day is finally here when we get to cast our vote in the referendum. Whatever else you do today, unless you've already posted a postal vote, get to the polling station if you're eligible to vote and vote yes! Simple!
This is the first time I’ve been old enough to cast my vote in a referendum relating to powers for Wales. I wasn’t born in 1979, and although I campaigned hard for a yes vote in 1997 and stayed up all-night watching nervously as the results came in, I was two days short of my seventeenth birthday when the votes were cast. Throughout my adult life, devolution has been a reality here in Wales, and if I’m ever fortunate enough to have children, it will be a norm. I’m proud to be a part of a generation that is able to say that.
Admittedly, today’s referendum isn’t as big a deal as the one in 1997. Though a yes vote is completely necessary and essential, it is difficult to get over excited about what is essentially a technical change. However, though the changes are small, that is not to say that they are not significant. If we vote yes today, then we won’t have to ask Westminster permission for passing laws in devolved areas. And that to me is well worth turning out to vote in favour of, and celebrating if we get a yes vote.
It has been difficult to engage in proper debate with those who are voting no in this referendum compared to those who opposed the Assembly in 1997. Back then, though I didn’t agree with those who opposed the Assembly, I understood their arguments and was able to respect them. Yes, I thought they were wrong but I also accepted that if they believed we were stronger as we were, then that was that. But, this time is different. If you accept that devolution is a reality, why then oppose this referendum which is simply making the system more efficient? Legislative Competence Orders are the most stupid things ever invented, and it is clear that the current system of having to go cap in hand to Westminster with these orders aren’t helping Wales progress. They slow down the democratic process unnecessarily, adding an extra layer of bureaucracy. Also, they give England a say in how laws that only affect Wales. How is that fair and democratic?
It has also been notable that the majority of those who have been vocal against the referendum, bar Rachel Banner, have been of a certain age, a certain background and a certain geographical area. They have been spouting so much rubbish in the media, to the extent that I’ve had to check if I’ve been watching the comedy hour rather than the news during some television and radio coverage. By choosing not to become an official campaign, they knew that they’d be able to say what they wanted and could pander to people’s paranoia’s with their lies. This hasn’t been a proper debate, but rather just a chance for those who hate nationalism and devolution to rant.
Luckily, the younger generation seems to understand that this negativity won’t help Wales prosper. Voting no today would be devastating. A yes vote won’t dramatically change our lives overnight, but a vote no would. It would show a lack of confidence and belief in Wales and its people. We’ve achieved so much with devolution in a short time. If you disagree with some policies that have been made, or don’t like some of the politicians, then elect different Assembly Member in May and change things like that. But don’t punish your nation today. Vote yes for a more democratic way of making laws in Wales, where your voice will actually be heard.