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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sex and Independence

If that title doesn't increase my hit-rate then nothing will. Poor old Glyn Davies, not only is he being gently mocked on the interweb for his open enthusiasm for older people having sex, but he is now being routinely misquoted and taken out of context regarding his views on Independence.
What I believe that Glyn said is that Wales could survive as an Independent nation if we were prepared to cut our cloth (and presumably our public services) to fit our means. He is though not in favour of Independence for a whole raft of reasons, including the inter-dependent world we live in that would leave many people in Mid, South East and North Wales worse off once we seek to deliver services on an all-Wales level, rather than cross-border as at present.

This has not stopped people enlisting Glyn's name in support of their own pro-independence agenda. This is a shame as it gives more prominence to a minority pursuit that does not even impinge on the consciousness of the vast majority of people living in Wales. The latest person to adopt this stance is Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Leanne Wood who, in a letter in this morning's Western Mail argues that this is the first time that anyone from "the London-based parties" has admitted that economically Wales would be a success just like other small European countries, such as Norway, Ireland and Iceland. I am not sure that Glyn actually went that far.

Leanne concludes by asserting that if Iceland can do it then so can Wales, but just because you can allegedly do something Leanne, does not mean that you should or that it is desirable. As usual she has failed to outline what exactly is in it for us if we were to tread this path and why we should suffer initial economic deprivation to achieve it.

The fact is that the economic argument for independence is unproven and relies on spurious assumptions and assertions that do not stack up against serious scrutiny. There is a huge disparity in the amount of money paid in tax by people living in Wales and the amount spend on public services. Suggestions that we can meet that gap by not having an army or a foreign policy frankly don't cut the mustard. They were not included in the assessment in the first place.

Let me be clear. I am not seeking to do Wales down with this argument. I am merely stating the facts. It may be possible over a period of time to become less dependent on English taxes so that an economic case can be put forward that we would survive Independence. But then we would still need a good argument as to why that route would be desirable in the first place. The claim that Iceland can do it so why not Wales is just not a convincing one for me.

I think that nationalist politicians also need a reality check. It is just not credible to argue on one hand that we can be a separate and successful economic entity, whilst on the other to call for the reform of the Barnett formula so as to bring more resources from Westminster into Wales. You either opt for one or the other and personally, my choice would be for an enhanced Barnett formula because at least then we would have some concrete benefits for the Welsh people.
I agree with you that Plaid has to stop banging on about the Barnett formula and demanding more from London. We need to be far more confident in our view that Wales can make its own way in the world.
A far more positive approach would be to insist that Wales collects its own taxes. Let's see what we pay.
I'm not convinced Wales does well out of the UK settlement even on purely economic grounds and believe there's a convincing economic case for independence.
However, that is not the only reason for independence. Peter asks "what exactly is in it for us" - there are the obvious democratic benefits of a small nation being able to decide its own future course.
Peter also asks "why we should suffer initial economic deprivation to achieve it" - as if it were a given that Wales cannot pay its own way.
It's not a given. Few people since Phil Williams have done the relevant maths about how much we pay in taxes (direct and indirect) and how much we receive from the state.
He mentions an army - one of the most compelling arguments FOR independence would be to avoid further imperialist adventures as dictated to London by Bush. There are any number of small nations in Europe who don't feel the need to have large standing armies - Wales would just be another one. It would be safer as a result.
is it just me or does it appear that leanne has dumped her socialism is favour of a vague proto nationalism? Of late she has constantly talked of 'independence' bringing a more 'prosperous' wales but there is nothing about the socialist policies we need in wales if the awful poverty that exists here is to be addressed! Would a self governing wales remain part of the capitalist club that is the EU? She needs to tell us as the fact of the matter is unde eu law certain obvious socialist measures - such as renationalistaion of water and railways are illegal under eu law! I am a socialist and not opposed to welsh independence but why is it leanne has nothing to say on these matters just vague generalities about a more 'prosperous wales' - which any of the parties could say! She talks of ireland but what about the still high levels of poverty and the gap between rich and poor which exist in ireland! Next thing you know she'll be appearing in photos with that 'welsh' exile terry matthews proclaiming that there'll be more millionaires in a self governing wales! So the question has to be asked - is leanne already starting to sell out?
Nothing wrong with a bit of gentle mockery
Sorry Peter - looks from the comments left that 'Sex and Independence' is roughly 1/8 as likely to improve your hit rate as assemblies in schools.

Not sure what that says about us all, at all!
Peter, you are once again doing more than a little spinning. Glyn Davies' quote on Welsh Ramblings was: "Of course Wales would survive and flourish as an independent nation - but that does not mean that this is the best policy." You interestingly failed to include the word flourish from that quote on your post.

If you want a list of benefits of independence, then here are three to start you off:(i) No ID cards and (ii) No entering illegal wars like Iraq and Afghanistan (iii) no wasted money on nuclear weapons

You sound very confident of your view against independence. Would you be willing to debate this issue head-to-head?
I think that I have accurately portrayed Glyn's views. He has certainly commented on this post and not said otherwise. I cannot see how Wales would flourish as an independent nation in the short term. It certainly took Ireland decades.

Your list of benefits could equally apply to the UK as a whole with the right government. You want to have your cake and eat it. No spending on defence but enjoying the protection of our neighbouring countries nevertheless. These are not arguments for independence, they are a fantasy.

I am still waiting to hear how independence would benefit us as individual citizens exactly.
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