Written by Andy Hughes
20 years ago this week the people of Wales historically voted ‘Yes’ in the devolution referendum put forward by the newly elected Blair government.
The margin of victory, a narrow 6,721 votes, paved the way for the Government of Wales Act and the birth of the Welsh Assembly.
The next 20 years have seen continued progress in the process of devolution, with a number of Wales Acts extending, re-shaping and re-moulding the initial settlement to the extent that the Welsh Government and National Assembly sitting today is far different to that which was first elected. In that time Wales has also seen another referendum on its model of governance, which emphatically voted ‘Yes’ for direct law making powers over certain areas in 2011.
In light of the 20th anniversary of the historic ‘Yes’ vote some commentators have talked of the Assembly’s ‘unfulfilled potential’ and its lack of impact on improving the economic prospects and opportunities for many people in Wales.
However, whilst it is important to have lofty ambitions for the Welsh Government and National Assembly, and expect improvement in areas such as the economic prospects, health outcomes and education results, there have certainly been political and legislative strides taken in Wales which are worth celebrating.
With the Welsh Assembly now able to make direct legislation in an ever growing list of areas such as housing, planning, health and public services amongst others, the process of devolution in Wales and the current situation should not be seen as the end of a process. Instead, the transfer of powers from Westminster to Cardiff and the maturing of the National Assembly must be seen a journey and maybe, as the late former First Minister Rhodri Morgan highlighted in 2000, maybe now are we only reaching the end of the beginning of devolution.
Remarkable Engagement’s Wales office is an award-winning team of communications professionals, specialising in engagement with the institutions of government at the local, regional and national levels. Our Wales team, located a short distance from the National Assembly, offers a broad range of experience and knowledge across the devolved policy areas, and should you wish to know more about our public affairs, stakeholder engagement and community consultation services please get in touch with our Welsh office via firstname.lastname@example.org or 02921 670 468.