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Monday, October 24, 2011

On the fringes

Yesterday Plaid Cymru leadership candidate, Elin Jones gave the clearest indication yet, that if she becomes the head of her party on March 15th then she will lead it even further to the fringes of Welsh politics.

Speaking at the SNP Conference yesterday, Ms. Jones described the United Kingdom as “a pretence of a state”.

Speaking about Scotland's forthcoming Independence referendum she said: “As you, in the SNP and in Scotland, consider the real possibility of creating an independent Scotland, we are left to consider what would be left.

“A UK Government governing all English matters, and only some Welsh matters and even less Northern Irish matters. It is now time for a serious debate on the future constitutional relationship of the countries of the British islands. It is time to debate equality, not subservience and dependence. To us, the UK is currently a pretence of a state. After a Yes vote in your referendum, it could no longer pretend to anyone, not even itself.”

Elin Jones of course seeks to lead a party that has constantly complained that Wales is not getting enough money from the UK Goverment. However, the real questions regarding her speech hang on its naivety.

I don't believe that anybody can predict the outcome of the Scottish referendum, and I am not about to try, however the assumption that a 'yes' vote will lead to an immediate secession from the rest of the United Kingdom is a mistaken one. This is not a decision that just affects Scotland as Elin Jones correctly surmises. It may be that the UK Government would want to gauge opinion from the rest of the UK before acceding to this non-binding advisory plebiscite.

The UK of course is not pretending to be a state. Much as I dislike the nation-state model, whether it is the UK or just one country such as Wales, there is no doubt that the United Kingdom has a unified political structure, economy, social cohesion and culture. Clearly, much of that has changed in the last century due to social changes but its strength lies in its diversity and its unity of purpose. Attempts to break-off small parts of the whole do not undermine that entity.

The time to debate what happens after a 'yes' vote in Scotland is when it happens. There will be plenty of time. In the meantime those parties who still strive to be relevant and representative will be concentrating on issues such as the economy, education and the health service.
One question would be what happens to Scots or Welsh resident in England. Would I for example be obliged to opt for English nationality or seek a Welsh passport while resident in Milton Keynes? And should I have a say in the future of Wales before any severe breach?
"It may be that the UK Government would want to gauge opinion from the rest of the UK before acceding to this non-binding advisory plebiscite."

If your wife has decided to divorce you, your solicitor will advise you that fighting it is a waste of time and money. You have to negotiate the best settlement you can.

If the Scots vote out, there is little or nothing the muppets at Westminster can do about it.

If I had to place money right now on how the Scots will vote in their referendum, I'd have to put it on them voting Yes to independence. (See this comment in The Guardian: http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/23/scottish-independence-end-of-union?cat=commentisfree&type=article)

That the UK has failed Scotland is beyond argument. The Scots have woken up to that. The unionists, including your party, took an absolute drubbing at the hands of the SNP.

My belief is that the UK has failed Wales, probably even more so than Scotland. No longer can a state dominated by one of its constituent nations dictate to the rest.

Scotland has rejected the Tories, and given the LibDems notice. There will never be a Tory majority in Wales, despite the massive migration here from east of the border in recent years. Your party is currently fourth, and I don't see it improving its standing in electoral terms anytime soon.

Yet we in Wales and our Scottish cousins have a right wing government in Westminster, barely tempered by their LibDem partners ('lackeys' might be a more appropriate term).

I agree with Elin Jones that as far as we and the Scots are concerned the UK is a pretence, and it's past its sell by date. There is nothing sacrosanct about the existence of the British state.

In any case fundamental constitutional changes are inevitable after a Scottish referendum.

The unionists are sticking their heads in the sand if they don't face up to that. There are no signs of them so doing. They haven't yet woken up to the fact that Calman is no answer and only brings about the likelihood of a Yes vote.
Elin Jones has never understood what the grass roots want, she has had fixed agendas which she persues in blinkered fashion. When she learns to listen and interpret what she has heard she might have a chance but I fear this is too much to expect and a massive step for her to take.
I think foremost Wales has failed it's own population - report after report illustrates this - and local government is not much better - Pembrokeshire should probably go the same way as Ynys Mon.
A united and unified UK will always be stronger than England and a bunch of tiny nations on the fringe who have illusions of grandeur !
My passport says I'm British and I don't want that to ever change.
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