Welsh assembly referendum campaign enters home stretch

By Daniel Davies
BBC Wales political reporter

Image caption,
Voters decide whether to increase the assembly's law-making powers on Thursday

The campaign for the referendum on increasing the Welsh assembly's powers is entering the final stretch.

Voters go to the polls on Thursday to decide whether the assembly should have direct law-making powers over devolved policies.

Those in favour say a Yes vote will save money and make devolved government more efficient.

But No campaigners have criticised the record of the Welsh Assembly Government over the first decade of devolution.

At present, the assembly has powers over 20 broad policy areas, but it must apply to parliament for primary law-making powers on a case-by-case basis.

A Yes vote would mean the assembly can pass laws without first having to seek consent from Westminster.

In making the case for change, the Yes for Wales campaign has highlighted wrangles over law-making bids, including an attempt to transfer powers over affordable homes.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has compared the current system to having control of a car's steering wheel "but somebody else pushes the pedals".

The leaders of the assembly's four main parties will team up to campaign in the centre of Cardiff on Tuesday, St David's Day.

'Slippery slope'

True Wales, which is calling for a No vote, is declaring Thursday "Vote No Day" and claims the referendum is part of a "slippery slope" towards separation from the UK.

Its members have used a distinctive mascot - a giant inflatable pig - to publicise their campaign.

Appearing alongside Mr Jones on BBC Radio Wales on Friday, True Wales' Nigel Bull said devolution had provided "12 years of under-performance by the Welsh assembly".

Opinion polls have given the Yes vote a comfortable lead.

The pledge to hold a referendum was made in the coalition agreement struck between Labour and Plaid Cymru after 2007's assembly election.

A second referendum debate in English will be broadcast at 1035 GMT on BBC One Wales on Monday from Blackwood, Caerphilly county.

The panel will include Yes for Wales chair Roger Lewis, First Minister Carwyn Jones, True Wales chair Rachel Banner and Nathan Gill from UKIP.

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