If I was to be asked ‘Is Wales ready for independence’, then in all honesty I would have to answer – No - not yet. But all that we are lacking is a little time – time in which to develop our national institutions and in which to become more confident in our own abilities.
If you look at all of the recently independent European states, they all enjoyed considerable autonomy prior to independence, typically within some form of federal structure. They were already managing most of their internal affairs, and it was not a huge step to finally break free - not dissimilar to the situation Scotland finds itself in today.
By contrast Wales has been consistently held back by the UK Government, and today many decisions which should be made in Wales are still controlled by London, but this is now gradually changing, and we are catching up with Scotland. I suggest the following roadmap for completing our journey to independence:
2007 - 2011
The new Assembly settlement enables us to progressively transfer more and more powers to Wales, and we should seize on every opportunity to take control of our own affairs. At the same time we need to make sure that all remaining UK functions, are accounted for on a Wales-only basis so that we have a full understanding of our finances. We also need to start to discuss independence openly.
2011 - 2015
It has already been suggested that a referendum be held in 2011 to upgrade our Assembly to a full law-making Parliament. This should be won comfortably (it would probably be won if held today) and we will then have caught up with Scotland’s position in 1999. We then need a few more years to learn to use these new powers, and we will then be ready for independence
2015 - 2020
The following Senedd elections in 2015 should be fought on the issue of independence. Even with a pro-independence Government in Cardiff, London would almost certainly insist on another referendum – but which should be winnable, especially as we would be following in Scotland’s footsteps.
It may take a few years more or less, but I believe that achieving independence by 2020 is a realistic achievable target and this is my vision.
An article by Jeremy Page and Richard Beeston in the Times on the 03/06/06 also suggested that Wales could become independent by 2020.