Today is a historic day – another milestone along our slow but steady path towards independence. But like our journey of devolution, we must also remember that Wales did not lose her independence overnight.
This was also a long drawn-out process - a progressive loss, which started with the Anglo-Norman invasions, was first formalized by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1282, was driven home in the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1542, and was finally settled by the Wales & Berwick Act of 1747 which said that from now on any legal reference to England would automatically include Wales.
But no matter what the Kings and politicians said, Wales never went away, and we have slowly but surely been clawing our way back ever since. The first significant step towards independence was in 1920 with the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. In today’s society this seems largely irrelevant, but in the early 20th century this was a huge step – an official recognition that Wales was never fully incorporated into England.
Small steps in the 1950s saw the English Monarchy recognize the Welsh flag, and Cardiff was proclaimed to be our Capital City, and in the 1960’s the UK government created the Welsh Office headed by the Secretary of State for Wales as our very own (undemocratic) government and (appointed) leader.
The next major step forward was quietly buried in the Welsh Language Act of 1967, which repealed the Wales & Berwick Act. It was now official - England did not include Wales.
Some more small steps forward (and backwards) followed, until the establishment of the first Welsh Assembly in 1999. Although its powers were limited, it was a huge symbolic statement, and has since grown in stature and importance.
Today’s revamped Assembly powers - although still severely restricted and subject to English veto – is another step forward in the right direction.
But if you try and measure independence on a linear scale from 0 (full annexation) to 10 (full independence) we have just moved forward from maybe 4 to 5. This is simply not good enough, and we have to keep pushing to achieve further powers and a full parliament. Measured on the same basis, Scotland have already achieved a score of 7 and we must catch them before they move even further ahead.