Friday 9 February 2007

Independence within the European Union - by Ieuan Wyn Jones AM

Today Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Plaid Cymru’s leader and the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, explains why independence within the European Union is the long term constitutional aim of Plaid Cymru.

I warmly welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate on the constitutional future of Wales.

The needs of Wales as a nation are being addressed as never before in the run-up to the Welsh General election in May. Devolution, even in its current form, provides a forum for a debate on Welsh priorities in a Welsh context, but the powers are insufficient, and the leadership of Rhodri Morgan and his Labour administration is woeful.

As a party that believes that Wales as a nation needs all the powers at its disposal to flourish, independence within the European Union is our long term constitutional aim. As well as improving the lives of the people of Wales, it is right that Wales joins the world community of nations.

We have always adopted a step by step approach to constitutional change, and since sovereignty belongs to the people, a referendum will be held on every major change. The people of Wales have the final say on this.

Our aim in the next four years is to demand a referendum on a proper Parliament so that we can have the right to legislate and vary taxes without having to get the consent of Westminster. We will be challenging the other parties to join us in this campaign.

During this year's election campaign, the London-based parties will try to use independence as a political football to split the national movement. Our goal is clear, but out opponents will attempt to use it against us. This election gives us the opportunity to make a real difference and to help transform Wales.

Plaid is the only party that truly has confidence in Wales and the people of Wales. Labour claim Wales is too small and insignificant to fight its corner on the international stage. Talking Wales down in such a way is patronising and demeaning. We must build the confidence of our nation and offer the people the Wales a change for the better. Together we can achieve this goal.

Ieuan Wyn Jones AM is an Assembly Member for Ynys Môn, Plaid Cymru’s leader and the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.


David Thomas said...

Good to see some of the "big hitters" here. After 3 May I think Barry Morgan needs to get a Convention going(a la Scottish model of the 90s) to re-examine Richards and to get serious discussion going. Maybe the IWA could co-sponsor. There's nothing wrong with open debate but Hain is committed to an emascualted Assembly which will probably lead to under 40% turnout by 2011.

Normal Mouth said...

I'm sorry, but I see little more in most of these statements than the axiom that since Wales is a nation she needs statehood. There's no analysis of why, or what an independent Wales would be able to achieve.

This is stale stuff. It's time for some fresh thinking that places the needs of the people ahead of the supposed needs of the nation. A sub-nation Europe of the Regions, with powers pushed down beyond the old, clunky national level is what is needed. It would in the first instance deal with the fundamental constitutional problem in the UK, namely the huge disparity in size between the constituent parts of the UK. It would create at regional level administrations nimble enough to respond to local needs, while passing up those powers which will be most effectively exercised to the European level.

The idea of Wales as a state was conceived during feudal times, and flourished among radicals in the 19th century. Few of the prescriptions of either era are relevant to today's world where globalisation, technology and our deepening union with the rest of Europe are changing the very nature of sovereignty and democratic participation. Let's design a system of governance around today's citizen, not around the dream of a 14th century frustrated aristocrat.

Unknown said...

Normal mouth - you are the only person I can think of who is pushing this line about sub-regions, and there is zero popular support for your idea.

Wales is already a de-facto state -what we are campaiging for is to ensure that the existing democratic deficit between Wales & UK is properly adressed - firstly by transferring more devolved powers to the existing senedd - secondly to securing a full legislative parliament - and thirdly to achieve full independence.

This process will take time, and each stage will be widely debated and discussed, and where appropriate subject to a referendum to ensure that it has full public support.

This is our future - not some failed Kinnockite utopia.

Normal Mouth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Normal Mouth said...

Extraordinary. As a campaigner for Welsh independence, I imagine you are annoyed by the arguments of pro-Unionists who belittle your cause’s legitimacy by pointing to its relative unpopularity and lack of support. You probably become frustrated by those who simply accept the status quo of Britishness without attempting to hear your arguments. Congratulations. You’ve just done both.

The argument that Wales is a de facto state, so get used to it is (besides being rhetorical nonsense) is the same sort of stonewalling argument Unionists have been throwing at Welsh nationalists for years. Of course a sub-national EU is a minority idea (actually, it’s not even that popular). But so too was Welsh independence at Plaid Cymru’s first General Election when they got 609 votes out of 1.3 million.

It’s a novel idea that has only been imaginable since the creation of the Single Market. But it’s grounded in local democracy, responsiveness and good governance. If you were designing a union of states now, in this era, you would not create a few massive ones (UK, Germany, France, Italy etc) and a multitude of smaller ones. Nor would you naively imagine that simply putting Wales on the Council of Ministers would solve the basic problem that her neighbour is nearly twenty times her size.

Unknown said...

Normal mouth - this site has been established to promote the cause of Welsh independence - support for which has been growing steadily.

If you want to push your idea of a Europe of sub regions please feel free to establish a similar site to promote this cause. I have said before that this idea is only being pushed to try and defuse the various separatist and nationalist movements in Europe

Normal Mouth said...

You can't have it both ways; either I'm the only one pushing this line or it is being pushed by others to diffuse separatism.

If you establish a site to push for a political and ideological idea you must expect - and should welcome - scrutiny. That you don't or can't indicates a lack of belief in your own ideas.

Normal Mouth said...

Besides which, I'm not sure on what basis you claim a steady increase in support; Plaid Cymru are getting roughly the same vote share today that they got 35 years ago.

Unknown said...

Normal Mouth - Objective scrutiny is welcome - and for example we earlier had a long debate regarding Wales's position in the EU. There is a lot of detail that needs to be discussed openly - but your sub regions are just a red herring to divert attention from the real debate.

Unknown said...

Normal Mouth - Support for Independence does not equate to support for Plaid Cymru.

But in either case your assertion is simply wrong. Plaid were getting less than 10% support in the 70s, peaked at almost 30% in 1999, and today is around 25% (wait until May for accurate figures).

Similarly support for independence was in single figures in the 70s, yet recent polls have shown figures of 16%, 32% & 52% - Refer to earlier posts for the detail.

Normal Mouth said...

Needless to say, I find your assertion that my intentions here are duplicitous to be fairly insulting. If people want independence for Wales they should have it. I simply ask whether a more responsive and more local dissolution of the UK would serve the ends of better government more effectively.

Nevertheless, in 1970 PC got 11.8% of the vote. In 2005 they got 12.5%.

The polls showing 32% and 52% are not to be taken seriously, as their methodology is suspect. The BBC poll showing 19% (an earlier one showed 16%, so there is an upward trend there) are the only ones to be taken seriously. Do you have data from similar polls from the 1960s and 1970s? If so, I'd be interested to see them.

Unknown said...

Normal Mouth - I apologise if you think I am accusing you of being duplicitous. The point I am trying to make is that there are a number of options on the table at the moment, ranging from UKIP wanting to scrap the assembly; through Labour's current enhanced assembly; up to Independence. Nowhere is anyone discussing sub-regions.