In September 1997 the wafer-thin majority in favour of devolution, was the most important vote in Welsh political history. Road to the Assembly sets the 1997 vote in context and accounts for the decisive change in Welsh public opinion between 1979, when the first devolution referendum was held, and 1997. The impact of eighteen years of Conservative government is examined and the significance, for Wales and for the UK as a whole, of the return of a Labour government committed to constitutional change is assessed. It then goes on to analyse the manner in which the referendum campaign was fought by the parties and the two umbrella organizations, discusses the issues involved and examines the significance of the division of opinion between east and west Wales which the results revealed. The crucial role played by the media, national and local newspapers, radio and television is examined and assessed. The results of the referendum, subsequent political events, and the provisions of the Government of Wales Act have implications for the operation of the National Assembly.
This volume also examines those implications and the outcome of the first Welsh General Election which could change public policy and the political culture of the country. Road to the Assembly offers a comprehensive review of these events and a thoughtful, detailed and accessible discussion of their implications for the future politics of Wales.
Denis Balsom is editor of The Wales Yearbook and a well-known commentator on Welsh affairs. He is Honorary Research Fellow at the Welsh Governance Centre, Cardiff University. He is now a political analyst for HTV. J. Barry Jones is a Senior Lecturer in the School of European Studies in the University of Wales, Cardiff. He is also Director of the Welsh Governance Centre at the University of Wales, Cardiff.