Monday 12 February 2007

Independence inevitable

Following a number of welcome contributions to this blog by Plaid Cymru members, we received the following contribution from a well-meaning patriotic correspondent.

It is both a perceptive and sincere critique of Plaid’s ‘road map to independence’ stance, and a challenge to that party to seriously grasp the issue by the throat and fight it out on the political agenda come May’s elections.

It is also an intriguing analysis of the ‘inevitability’ of Welsh independence, as a broader debate on devolved national institutions – specifically, the growing calls for an English Parliament – becomes unavoidable. Read on…

I’m new to this blogging business but an old hand at seeing things for what they are, and I pride myself on being a pretty shrewd observer of the Welsh scene.

One thread I notice running through the contributions is that Plaid is different to the other – the ‘Brit’ – parties and will, furthermore, deliver us independence. Now I hate to be a spoilsport but I’ve got more faith in next door’s cats to deliver independence.

Looking at the popular and political trends in this island I see independence coming not from heroic efforts by Plaid Cymru but from forces totally beyond our control.

If the SNP does as well as is currently anticipated (and if the other pro-independence parties also do well up there), and if Gordie Broon becomes Prime Minister, there will definitely be a reaction in England. (it may have already started.) This will be a popular and spontaneous movement outside of and beyond the control of the Conservative Party, and even UKIP.

A great many English will say ‘OK, sod off you ungrateful buggers’. Although directed primarily at the Scots this sentiment will be extended to Wales because few English understand – or care about – the different devolution settlements or the differing popular sentiments on the issue of independence.

Which could give rise to a situation that I find hilarious. The Conservatives jump on the bandwagon – or is it a tiger? – and get elected promising an ‘English parliament’, and ‘reducing outside interference’ (from Scotland and Wales). This pushes the Scots over the brink and increases support for independence in Wales.

The Plaid-led coalition in Cardiff docks is horrified! They implore the London government, ‘Pull back! We don’t want independence’. But it’s too late; the break-up of the UK has now attained an unstoppable momentum. Welsh independence is forced on Plaid Cymru by The Conservative and Unionist Party. Delicious!

Jack o’ the North


Normal Mouth said...

This is indeed a shrewd analysis. Allow me to posit a couple of alternatives.

1. The SNP become the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, but lose the subsequent referendum on independence. The idea of any further constitutional change in Wales for the foreseeable future dies on the spot.

2. The SNP do not become the largest party and hence keep the notion of a referendum alive as a promise for 2011. Most people regard that as the timetable to which Welsh constitutional change should be aligned.

Anonymous said...

As interesting as it would be to see England drive the break-up of the UK I dont think it will happen.

I think that SNP might be largest party in Scotland, but without a majority, so they will bide their time before calling for a referendum on independence.

Which leave Normal Mouth's option 2 as the most likely in my opinion!

Jac o' the North said...

One thing worth remembering is that the SNP does not need an absolute majority for Scotland to have its independence referendum. There are two other parties - the Greens and the SSP - represented in the Scottish parliament that support independence.

Anonymous said...

Yes but I think that even with the SSP/SGP the SNP will not get an overall majority - and while they could still push for a referendum, I think they will bide their time until they are certain of winning it.

Jac o' the North said...

To look at it from another angle . . . If the anti-independence parties feel they can win a referendum then they might push for one, just to get it out the way. And use for future reference.
The fact is that an independence referendum in Scotland could be brought about by all manner of computations and circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Yes - but I think they will not call one either unless they could be certain of winning - which they cant......

Normal Mouth said...

Tend to agree with Penddu. Calling a referendum on independence and then losing it would rank as one of the biggest miscalculations of British constitutional history - and would be irreversible.

For the pro--independence people to call and lose it would merely be a set-back.

And that opens up another question. The SNP/PC are not being straight when they say the question of independence will be for the people to decide. Because if the people say no, the issue will not be decided once-and-for-all. If the pro-independence parties will not take no for an answer, then it's not really down to the people, is it?

Anonymous said...

A No vote in a referendum does not mean No - Not Ever. It means No - Not for the time being. Things will just have to be put on hold for a while.

Normal Mouth said...

A referendum result cannot bind all future generations. But it IS reasonable for those supporting independence to make it clear that the outcome of such a plebiscite would be binding for a significant interval. I suggest twenty years ceteris paribus.

Anonymous said...

Not from Latin America, so didnt understand the last bit..

But much would depend on the size of the defeat. A losing margin of say only 5% would invite an almost immediate rerun. Only a resounding defeat by say 40% could justify a generation gap of 20 years.

Maybe if gap is X% then a wait of X/2 years is reasonable??

Normal Mouth said...

No, I don't think that works. If we are proposing that the people decide then we have to say they decide for their generation, loosely defined.

Future generations can of course make their own decisions, and the people can opt at any point to elect a government pledged to constitutional change of any shape. But the notion of an immediate rerun simply on the basis of a close result would make a mockery of the process. Nobody thought there should be a rerun of the 1997 devolution referendum, and results don't come closer than that.

Anonymous said...

Normal Mouth - People change their opinions for a lot of reasons, as in the change between the two devolution referendums. If the same vote was held today, there would be overwhelming support for devolution, and for more devolution.

You can not make a referendum binding for a generation - but you would need to judge the public mood. 5 years would be a sensible time period before asking the question again, but that assumes that the vote would be lost!!

Normal Mouth said...

Your position is not credible. In essence you are saying "the people will decide - unless we disagree with their decision, in which case we will repeat the question until we get the answer we want." That is not a referendum, it's a rubber stamp. I desperately wanted the European Constution to be approved. But it was rejected in a referendum, so I am opposed to attempts to make the people vote on it again.

There has to be an understanding that - all else being equal - a referendum will decide a given matter for the forseeable future. You should embrace this, as it underlines to supporters of the cause that they must strain every sinew to get the result they want.

You expect the opponents of independence to accept a 'yes' vote. You must therefore be prepared to accept a 'no' vote.

Independence4Celts said...

That's just like saying, if you want labour in power, you should expect them to be in power for 20 years. People's attitudes change overtime, mine did; now I fully want independence, the sooner the better.

Unionist said...

An uncomfortable welshman who is crying out for attention.

How is the United Kingdom an outdated idea? How is Britishness firmly in the past? You are entertaining the idea that Wales is a modern state that needs to break away from an old and backward power which is preventing it from taking a role on the world stage. What hidden potential have you got that is being held back?

If you were an old European state then you would have been wiped out along time ago, if you don't know what it is to be British then shame on you. If you were a new European state then the cost of being a member would wipe you out too. The reality is you could not survive as an independent country and you are heavily subsidised by England.

England and Scotland support Wales and the importance of the union is more obvious now that what it has ever been. You and your province greatly benefit from the union, now tell me how can this support be irrelevant and outdated?

Unionism is a sign of strength and cooperation between all member states of the island, there is no loss of culture or identity. It brings everyone together and the only problem are people like you who wish to separate the nation into vulnerable states. What progress can be made from breaking away?

Republicans are a dangerous people and can only take us backward. You are irrelevant to the nation, backward in thinking and counter productive. For example, here are some simple questions. How would Wales defend itself? Where would the army come from? Were would the jobs come from? Does Wales have a strong industrial sector? Does Wales have any infrastructure in place for international trade or producing its own electrical or gas supplies? Its a shame that you would want to destroy your beautiful and fragile land. If you go it alone the you will die alone.

Fly the flag or get lost