Monday 22 January 2007

More arrogance from Governor Hain

An independent Wales would "leave Wales isolated and irrelevant." - Wales and Northern Ireland Secretary, 'Governor' Peter Hain.

Responding to the Wales on Sunday newspaper's opinion poll which showed an increase in support for independence, Peter Hain again displayed the insulting and bullying arrogance of his British Nationalist credentials.

Irrelevant? Why would an independent Wales be 'irrelevant'? Irrelevant to what? To Britain? To the world?

Every other independent nation is relevant to the international community. Why would Wales not be? Why do Peter Hain and his British nationalist stalwarts consider the Welsh as inferior, unequal and unfit to govern their own affairs?

Is Wales relevant now, as a sub-ordinate part of the United Kingdom? Where is Wales' prominence? Where is Wales' fair share of recognition, status and economic growth?

And if Wales were relevant now, why would she stop being relevant having gained independence?

Isolated? How could Wales possibly be any more isolated than any other independent nation? Is Denmark isolated? Is Ireland? Is Luxembourg? Is Finland? Lithuania? Latvia? Bulgaria, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, India? Is Italy, France, America and indeed the United Kingdom, isolated?

So what does Hain mean by 'isolation'? Would England dig a trench the length of Offa's Dyke to keep us apart from the rest of this island? Would England impose economic sanctions - or even roll the tanks in? Would the EU make us the North Korea of Europe?

Come on, Peter Hain. If you don't support Welsh independence then at least treat Wales with respect. Award us the dignity of a mature and measured argument rather than this continuous conquistadorian nonsense. This simplistic, dissmissive, patronising patter is both insulting and nauseating, and reveals a superior imperialist attitude towards us inferior, notionless natives.

Who do you think you are? And what do you think we are?


Normal Mouth said...

This is an interesting site that warrants proper engagement from those who oppose your point of view. So here's an argument with which I hope you will engage.

I'm not a nationalist at all – British, Welsh or English. In fact I tend to share Einstein's assessment of nationalism as "an infantile disease" that will be discarded (along with other forms of particularism) once humanity matures.

That said, I believe that people should have whatever constitutional settlement they wish. If the people of Wales want to live together under a sovereign, independent government they should have it. There is no reason, financial, fiscal or in terms of international influence, why Wales cannot exist as an independent nation.

In that sense therefore, I agree with your assessment that we should dispense with the notions that Wales could not survive as an independent nation, or she would be in some way isolated from the rest of the world (whether she would be as prosperous or enjoy as much influence is a matter of debate, but the question is one of degrees, not of absolutes).

However, I think we need to ask what real benefits independence would confer in a globalised world, with a deeper Union with the rest of Europe? How much in an era of increasing interdependence, both in terms or trade and culture, is statehood worth? What does sovereignty give Wales, when so much of that sovereignty is ultimately pooled with the rest of the EU? A place at the top table, yes, but what real benefits will that deliver that can’t currently be delivered?

Secondly, why Wales? In terms of economics there is little that unites Wales. The north functions as a part of NW England, the middle bit as a hinterland of the West Midlands, while the south joins with Bristol to form a third cohesive economic region. In the purest technocratic terms, you would devolve power along these lines. Of course I hear you say that there is much more than that, there is the language and the culture. But much of the real, everyday culture of Wales is the same as England’s (and much of Europe and the rest of the world); it’s supporting a Premiership team, watching Big Brother, going to Homebase, listening to Katherine Bennett, sharing YouTube clips and so on.

If we are serious about devolving the full measure of power to the people, we would ask the people what unit of government they wish to be a member of, not simply assume the choice is between a 500 year-old Union with a neighbouring country, or a country created by a 1200 year old ditch.

I foresee an era in which the old, nation-states of Europe will indeed break-up, and the EU will be transformed into a union of dozens of Member Regions. But the presumption that these need to be based on so-called historic nations is one that needs to be challenged. If Luxembourg is small enough to be a Member State, then why not Gwynedd, Monmouthshire or Glamorgan? Why not Cornwall, Orkney, Yorkshire, Bavaria, Alsace or Aragon? Or, why not new regions that make sense in terms of their local economies and infrastructure?

Britain has no God-given right to exist as a nation-state. Neither does Wales. Both these entities - and all others - exist at the consent, and with the approval of their peoples. They, not some national ideal, are sovereign and they, not a claim to history or cultural distinctiveness, should decide who and how they are governed.

Anonymous said...

This sounds very much like a justification for the divide and conquer tactics which the unioniosts love - lump Gwynedd with Merseyside - Cardiff with Bristol, while preaching the failed Kinnockite brand of internationalism.

Normal Mouth said...

khvjzThat's it? These perfunctory five lines is your considered verdict on this entire comment?

It seems to me your horizons are too narrow. You can't even think beyond the axiom that Wales is a nation and should therefore be a state. Why not try some fresh thinking? It's the people who matter, not the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - it doesnt deserve any more...

Blewyn said...

"but what real benefits will that deliver that can’t currently be delivered?"

The ability to tailor Welsh economic and social policies to the needs of Wales, rather than having to tag along with the same policies as England.

"Secondly, why Wales?"

Because Wales is a nation. Ironic that you describe Welsh economic regions as somehow intrinsic, when it was the building of the two great Anglo-Irish Bypasses Of Wales(North and South) that brought the situation about. An independent Wales might have been more keen on a North-South carrieageway on our eastern and western flanks..

"But much of the real, everyday culture of Wales is the same as England’s"

True, except that Wales also has an entirely separate culture of its own that, while kicking with gusto, is in danger of being swamped by English culture. The survival and growth of Welsh culture would bring with it considerable economic benefits - content producers working in the medium of Welsh would have the advantage of a barrier to competition from the English-speaking world, something that British cinema spokespeople consistently moan about. Welsh culture industries means Welsh economic recirculation, which is a good thing.
Any markets that can be grown within Wales and are naturally protected from outside competition, should be developed.