This week saw the 20th anniversary of the Welsh referendum that paved way for the creation of the National Assembly for Wales. I decided to see what I could discover about this historic occasion within the Library’s various online subscriptions. (*To access these resources from outside the Library building you will have to use your reader’s ticket. If you haven’t got a reader’s ticket you can register very easily here).
Whilst support for devolution was low during the first referendum in 1979, the ensuing political and economic landscape over the next decade and a half led to increased calls for a second referendum. As a result, the Labour party included proposals for a second referendum in their 1992 manifesto, and after their landslide victory in the 1997 general election, these were set in motion.
The Referenda (Scotland and Wales) Act asked voters if they were in favour of devolution for Scotland and Wales. Many commentators analysed what devolution would mean for the future of the United Kingdom, as can be seen in this article from ‘The World Today’:
The referendum was held on the 18th of September 1997, and unlike the referendum in 1979, the result was extremely close. In fact, the votes were so close, the result hung on the announcement from Carmarthenshire. As the result came in, there were wild celebrations amongst the Yes campaigners as devolution was secured by a margin of 6,721 votes.
As a result of this narrow victory, the Government of Wales Act 1998 was passed by the Labour government to create a National Assembly for Wales:
There was a concern that the low voter turnout meant that voters were apathetic towards the notion of a national assembly, however this study by Roger Scully, Richard Wyn Jones and Dafydd Trystan concludes that this was not the case:
However, even though Welsh devolution was achieved by the narrowest of margins, Richard Wyn Jones and Bethan Lewis were keen to point out that the result was a substantial achievement for those in the ’Yes’ campaign
Following such a momentous change to the country’s political landscape, and following further referendums in 2006 and 2011, it’s only natural that commentators and scholars have sought to discuss and evaluate the impact of devolution on various aspects of life in Wales:
Legal Deposit, Electronic and Acquisitions Librarian