Sunday 21 January 2007

Lets take a journey.....

Ron Davies said that Devolution was a process not an event. Personally I believe that it is a journey, with an independent Wales being the eventual destination. But before planning the rest of the journey, it is worth reminiscing about some of the sights we have passed on the way:

The first significant step to devolution was not Ron’s assembly, but the disestablishment of the Church in Wales in 1920. This seems almost irrelevant today, but at the time this was a huge step as it represented the first official recognition that the 1536 Act of Union had failed to integrate Wales into England. Opposition at the time claimed that Wales was not a nation but simply a geographical area of England – How I would love to hear Peter Hain say that on TV today!!

In the 50s and 60s the UK governments tried to defuse growing Welsh aspirations by deliberately ignoring the Welsh border with such public bodies as the Merseyside & North Wales Electricity Board (Manweb), Television for Wales & West (TWW), and Welsh Water – which covered only 90% of Wales, but included large parts of England. We were given a series of colonial governors instead of democracy, and the recommendations of the Kilbrandon Commission were ignored.

At this point I have to confess to voting No in 1979, not because I opposed devolution, but I did not want Wales to become a super-county – something like Yorkshire. In hindsight I am not sure that was the right decision, but through perseverance we eventually got a more meaningful Assembly, even if we were first given a puppet leader in Alun Michael.

The original Assembly was toothless, but was strengthened gradually from within, with our patronizingly named First Secretary becoming our First Minister, and their Assembly becoming our Senedd. True to form, the UK politicians ignored the Richards Commission, and we will now get an Assembly Mark 2 instead of a Parliament.

But the more the unionists resist change, and implement half baked solutions, then the more the people of Wales will insist on further change. Opinion polls show that there is now an overwhelming demand for a full parliament, and support for independence is growing steadily.

In just under 20 years, we will ‘celebrate’ the 500th anniversary of our annexation by England – Our goal must be to see that this anniversary is not reached. We now need to plan the rest of our journey.


plaid wrecsam said...

Excellent post - thanks for setting up this blog. The cause for Welsh independence is a bit of an unloved child at the moment - nobody in the political mainstream is advocating it as a priority, yet there is a body of people for whom it's a clear political option.
As with any journey, it's best to know where you're heading. Labour had hoped that devolution was an end in itself, something Ron himself knew was not the case but sold it to London on that basis.
The other essential about any journey is finding the right vehicle to get you there.
At the moment, Plaid Cymru is the only vehicle aiming for that final destination. The other mainstream parties are UK based and will drop you off way before your destination.
There are no realistic alternatives, which is why pro-independence activists should really be in Plaid.
For those who can't do that, for whatever reason, perhaps we need an Independence First-type movement that unites those wanting a separate Welsh republic.
In Scotland, Independence First unites the SNP, SSP and Greens as well as independent activists. Can we do the same here to ensure that independence is the key theme of Welsh politics in the coming years?

Unknown said...

I agree that Plaid is the best vehicle, but even within Plaid there are serious differences as to how far to go, and more importantly at what speed.

I view devolution as partial independence, and independence as total devolution. We do not need to be afraid of using either word interchangeably - it is just a matter of degree.