This larger than life pink helium pig took to the streets of Wales today as the official mascot for the True Wales group which is opposed to the Welsh Assembly having extra legislative powers – a decision which will be voted on in a referendum on 3 March.
I recently met their maverick spokesman Len Gibbs who told me: “The pig came out at Newport and was filmed for the Politics Show tomorrow… may be only in Wales, but that’s where we are campaigning. It had an airing for Ed Miliband this morning in Barry and later in Swansea.”
However, I have just seen a tweet from the Politics Show saying that Andrew Neil will be highlighting this on their programme tomorrow from Cardiff, so it could indeed be broadcast nationally.
Len also updated me on his latest development. He is thrilled to learn that his personal campaign, “March 3 is ‘Vote NO! Day'”,Â is now registered with the Electoral Commission in Wales as a permitted participant to campaign for the ‘no’ vote – and with only less than three weeks to go before the referendum!
He still supports True Wales, which previously refused to register officially as the main “no” group in protest at the costs involved; this meant they could not receive Â£70,000 campaign costs, and neither could their opposing side, Yes For Wales,. As a result, theyÂ have to raise their own funds, and Len says that they have been generously supported.Â
There has now been this unusual twist in developments, and Len’s “March 3 is ‘Vote NO! Day'” campaign is mutually supported by True Wales with their spokeswoman Rachel Banner saying they would continue to work together.
At 74 and hugely energetic, Len and his supporters are taking on the might of the Assembly and its influential politicians â€“ the Yes to Wales group is led by Welsh Rugby Union Chief Executive Roger Lewis and has the support of the Archbishop of Wales, Dr BarryÂ Morgan,in a David-Goliath battle.
Len believes a large number of people want a re-evaluation of the role of the National Assembly of Wales. He says that research indicates that the largest voting preference block, up to 38% of the electorate, wish to review the position of the Assembly, but donâ€™t have a voice or means to express their point of view. He accuses Welsh MPs or AMs of failing to stand upÂ and voice these concerns and represent the electorate who oppose primary law-making power.
To those who question why it was necessary for Len to set up his new group and how it will work with True Wales, he explains this on his website:
True Wales has been an effective umbrella to rally the â€˜Noâ€™ vote, but because it is a single organisation opposing a multi-group it has difficulty in representing the arguments against further power to the different streams. â€œMarch 3 is â€˜VOTE NO! DAYâ€™ â€ is a solution to that difficulty by focusing a message to those who question the continuance of the Assembly. There are some people who cannot understand why someone else who may want to end the Assembly could work with people who want to keep it and vice versa. But that is not the essential issue.
The essential issue is that a large number of people are not democratically represented and they need to have a means to express their voices. â€œMarch 3 is â€˜VOTE NO! DAYâ€™ â€ represents that voice.
â€œMarch 3 is â€˜VOTE NO! DAYâ€™ â€ is not opposed to True Wales. Although â€œMarch 3 is â€˜VOTE NO! DAYâ€™ â€ is separate and independent of True Wales, it works in association with True Wales to achieve a majority â€˜Noâ€™ vote and both have an agreed joint co-operation agenda.Â Both use â€œMarch 3 is â€˜VOTE NO! DAYâ€™ ” on the websites, posters and leaflets. The main True Wales website will continue to have articles individually and jointly signed by Rachel Banner and Len Gibbs. The case against further power doesnâ€™t change because of who presents it.