I will be voting 'yes' for four main reasons:
- No matter which party (or parties) are in power in Westminster, UK-wide one-size-fits-all legislation will by definition not be equally optimum for all parts of the United Kingdom. Accordingly the Welsh Assembly is the ideal vehicle for developing and implementing differentiated policies which are specific to the needs of Wales alone. The referendum on March 3rd merely allows for the Assembly to be able to pass laws in the areas it already has competence quicker.
- I fully subscribe to the principle that laws which exclusively apply to one region should be decided exclusively within that region. During the previous Labour administration in Westminster we all became accustomed to the sight of legislation which exclusively affected England (and in some cases England and Wales) only being passed due to the support of Scottish Labour MPs representing constituencies which would be entirely unaffected by said legislation. Known as the West Lothian Question, it remains a constitutional abomination. Although the situation whereby Measures passed in the Assembly are scrutinised by MPs and Peers in Westminster is not a direct parallel to the West Lothian Question, the principle of those unaffected by the law in question being removed entirely from the lawmaking process is sound.
- A yes vote on Thursday will merely put Wales on almost equal footing with the other devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which already do not need to have their laws scrutinised by Westminster. As a proud Welshman I personally have never seen any good reason why Wales should be treated any differently from Scotland or Northern Ireland.
- I instinctively believe in Localism. Political decisions which affect us all, should be taken as closely as possible to us -- not by some overlarge central top-down bureaucracy. This, for example, is why I am so keen to preserve the integrity of Anglesey County Council and not see it submerged within a Greater Gwynedd.
As a final footnote: I personally don't believe that the current Plaid Cymru and Labour coalition in Cardiff Bay has done a particularly good job. Indeed in crucial areas -- Education and Economic Development being just two -- they have failed abysmally and let Wales down. However none of this undermines the case for the Welsh Assembly itself -- it merely underlines the lack of competence and vision of the current crop of AMs from the ruling parties. I fully believe that the nation of Wales' future economic and social success rests entirely upon the Welsh Assembly developing unique and radical policies which differentiate Wales positively from the rest of the UK as both a place to live, work and invest.