'Wales for the Assembly' Campaign

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Report 1977; Campaign handbills and posters 1977-1979; Minutes 1978; Campaign speakers notes 1978; Circular letters 1977-1978

Administrative / Biographical History

The Wales for the Assembly Campaign (WAC) was a pressure group started in January 1977 to promote and campaign for Welsh Devolution. The Devolution Bill for Scotland and Wales was read in parliament in 1977 but it soon became clear that the Welsh case was not very strong. WAC was established to ensure that the Welsh element was retained in the Bill and was given a fair hearing in parliament. For this reason, WAC chose to concentrate on the broader issue of Welsh devolution rather than being confined to the limited powers suggested in the Bill. Elystan Morgan, a former Labour MP became the leader of the campaign group and encouraged the involvement of many Labour ministers and supporters. Significantly, the campaign group was a coalition campaign with strong support from the Trades Union Congress, the Liberal Party and Plaid Cymru. There were some noticeable exceptions to the pro-Assembly campaign supporters as six Welsh Labour MPs (including Neil Kinnock) and nearly all Welsh Conservatives were against Devolution.

The issue of devolution had constantly featured in Welsh politics since the early 20th century. However, it only became a real possibility when the 1978 Bill was given royal assent. This led to an increase in activity by supporters of the devolution campaign. Meetings and press conferences were held throughout Wales and posters and leaflets were produced to put forward the case for a Welsh Assembly. A referendum was held to decide the matter on St. David's Day, 1 March 1979 where a majority of 59.4% voted against Welsh Devolution. Despite this failure, support for the Welsh Assembly did not disappear. On 18 September 1997 another referendum was held to decide upon the Labour Government's proposals for a devolved Wales. This time, a majority of 0.6% voted in favour of devolution. The first Assembly election were held in May 1999 and the National Assembly for Wales officially opened in Cardiff later the same year.

Source: The Welsh Veto: The Wales Act 1978 and the Referendum, ed. David Foulkes, J. Barry Jones and R. A. Wilford (Cardiff, 1983)

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