Monday, 8 June 2015

Euro referendum could see Assembly campaign lost in the mire.

Every Political Party needs maverick members and certainly  Plaid Cymru has one in  Dafydd Elis-Thomas who seems to have broken  ranks with his party leader over the timing of the EU referendum.. Saying on the  BBC Sunday Politics Wales that  holding the referendum on the same day as next year's assembly election could boost turnout.
It puts him at odds with Plaid leader Leanne Wood and the first minister who say the referendum must not clash with devolved elections in May 2016.
David Cameron has pledged to have an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday the referendum will be held "as soon as we are ready" with the "back stop" date of 2017.
But there has been speculation it could happen earlier.
Former presiding officer Lord Elis-Thomas said: 
"I quite frankly have no objection to it being held at the same time as other elections."It makes a lot of sense because then you would get better turnout for both. There are fears about UKIP, but bring them on I say."Labour AM Mike Hedges said the votes should take place separately, adding "we want people to concentrate on what's happening in Wales".
And of course he is right if turnout was the only criteria the legitimacy of a Mandate would be increases .

But the Assembly Elections should be just that not an election of whether   we stay in or out of Europe.

In today's Wasting Mule  it is pointed out  that
The Electoral Commission said the lesson of last year’s Scottish independence referendum was that holding a poll on such an important constitutional issue on a separate day from any other elections helped both administrators and campaigners plan their activity more effectively and gave voters space to engage with the issues.
It warned that the issues surrounding EU membership were too broad to be wrapped up with the other major elections, adding: “A referendum on an issue as important as the UK’s membership of the European Union should not be held on the same day as the other polls.”

The Assembly Elections were moved  forward a year so has not to conflict with the 2015 General Elections for this very reason.

Former Wales Office special adviser David Taylor, who now runs his own political consultancy, reflected much of Dafydd Ell.s argument........: 
“If, as appears to be the case, the Prime Minister is aiming to complete his renegotiation in time to hold the EU referendum on the same day as Welsh Assembly, police commissioner and other elections next May, it will undoubtedly have profound consequences on the nature of the Assembly campaign.
“Assembly election turnout is generally around 40%, compared to the 66% turnout at the recent general election.

"If held on the same day as the EU referendum, far more people would be expected to go to the polls so we would likely see the largest ever Assembly turnout – undoubtedly a good thing as it gives the next Assembly more legitimacy.
“The referendum date is still obviously very much dependent on the timetable and success of his renegotiation, but if the Prime Minister is determined to press ahead for May 2016, I think it’s incredibly difficult for politicians making the case against it.
"If it saves money and is likely to increase turnout across the board, he’s on to a winner.
“It’s inevitable a situation like this will arise sooner or later in an era of multiple elections and referenda.
"How do you make the argument that after 17 years of devolution the Welsh electorate is not sophisticated enough to distinguish between different votes?
“Welsh political leaders must be careful also not to be seen to obsess about matters of political process.
"Those who have done so in the past, instead of focusing on the issues that people really care about, have paid a price at the ballot box.”
This may well be the argument for having an European referendum on the same day if the referendum was only being held in exclusively Wales but it will be not be.

Even under normal electoral circumstances the Assembly Elections get scant coverage from the London Media and we have very little media of own.

No mater how sophisticated the Welsh Electorate  are they could well have greater knowledge of the campaign for London Mayor  which is being held on the same day if they relied on media coverage.

What is wrong with having .the Referendum in October 2016 where it will be the only issue put before the electorate.?

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