It was a bitterly fought referendum campaign. Both sides accused the other of exaggerated claims and even outright lies. The result was finely balanced, the nation was divided, and many were of the opinion that the government had no right to proceed with such a profound constitutional change on the basis of a tiny majority. I refer not to the EU referendum but to the Welsh devolution referendum which took place 20 years ago this month.
There the similarities end. After the Assembly referendum, those of us who voted against realised we had to accept the decision. We got involved in the process of shaping the Welsh Assembly and fielded candidates (myself included). Twenty years on I would never challenge the Assembly’s existence. Those who voted to stay in the EU need to do as we did. Accept the result and help shape the future.
Governments of all stripes across the UK seem to want to provide “free” school meals whether they be breakfasts, lunches or both. I have no issue with ensuring that children whose parents fall below a certain income threshold are fed and this has always been the case. But why is the state wanting to take on the role of parent for every child? These meals will certainly not be “free”; the taxpayer will be paying and the cost per meal will be much higher if provided by government agencies than if bought from the supermarket by a parent. My concern is more philosophical. The vast majority of parents can and do feed their children and quite right too – it is one of our jobs. It is not for the state to take on the role of mum and dad unless there are good reasons for doing so.
Argus readers may well be aware of the voluntary work of Edward Watts who I met a few weeks ago in his guise as chair of the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO). We first crossed paths in the 1980s when Ed ran the Sea Scouts in Newport and I was one of his charges. Over the years, Ed has been tireless in his efforts to improve lives with the Mission to Seafarers, the South East Wales Racial Equality Council and far too many others me to include here. Ed has never asked for nor received any public recognition. I hope this will be rectified one day.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 11 September 2017*