Since 1999 Wales has seen the development of democratic devolution – a new National Assembly and the evolution of a Welsh Government. In the space of just 17 years Wales has accrued a law-making Parliament with powers to tax and borrow.
But the institutions have developed in advance of the tier of civic society necessary to sustain them.
Most people get their information about what goes on in Wales from the London media and they seldom feature Welsh news. The IWA’s Media Audits in 2008 and 2015 have set out in detail the structural, commercial and technological challenges which leave Wales with a sparse media landscape. A BBC poll in 2014 showed that almost half of respondents believed that NHS in Wales was run by UK Government, whereas health has been devolved to Wales since 1999.
The IWA’s Media Policy Group is one of the few active voices drawing attention to the problem and suggesting solutions.You can see our work on the media here.
With so few sources of information about decisions made in Wales it is hardly a surprise that public engagement with the Assembly is a challenge: Assembly elections have historically had a relatively low turnout. We have done innovative work to engage the people of Wales on policy issues.
Following the 2014 Scottish referendum we believed that there was a real risk that Wales would be left out of the debate on the UK, and launched an online discussion open to all on the future of Wales. Using innovative crowdsourcing technology, we spoke to around 12,000 people across Wales on the future of the Welsh economy, our welfare state and the future of the UK. Despite the lack of engagement for people across Wales in politics, we’ve managed to engage people across Wales on these constitutional issues. In response to our findings, we made the case that performance is more important to the public than powers, despite the prominence of powers in the current rhetoric.
In our role as a critical friend we want to challenge poor performance in this area in order to make Wales better. Please consider how you can support our work in this area.