Tuesday 5 June 2007

5/10 - Must Do Better

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The next major step forward was quietly buried in the Welsh Language Act of 1967, which repealed the Wales & Berwick Act.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.

9 comments:

ryan said...

Your quite right. We have always maintained our own identity, language and traditions and have succeeded in building our own highly successful institutions like the National Library and the University of Wales. We can become independent, but it will take a long time. It's not just a case of having a government and parliament, we need truly Welsh institutions that will build a strong, vibrant and respected European state.

Normal Mouth said...

"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."

The Welsh Sunday Closing Act of 1881 was in fact the first distinctively Welsh Act of Parliament.

Penddu said...

Normal Mouth - Thanks for that one - Not sure it would represent a step towards independence, but certainly a recognition of our Welshness.

Normal Mouth said...

It's an interesting one. The thing about disestablishment - other than the disendowment that came with it (which was very soon made good by the new church) was that it was so long in coming that when it actually took place it was wrapped into a wider post-war process of, if you like, unseating the landed gentry. No-one would deny that the disestablished church became in time more Nationalistic in character, but the act of disestablishment was, I would argue, a change in class rather than national consciousness.

The Sunday Closing Act, by comparison, was notable in the development of a Welsh polity because for the first time since the Laws in Wales Acts, an item of legislation recognised Wales as something other than an integral and indivisible part of England.

Penddu said...

I remember reading somewhere that the Bishop of St Asaph was apoplexic (sp?) about disestablishment because Wales was just a region of England. I suspect it was more to do with him losing a bit of percieved status, in much the same way as certain Chief Constables reacted to police reorganisation.

Penddu said...

This has just triggered a thought - how many institutions are there that still treat Wales as part of England (as opposed to part of the UK)?

Off the top of my head I can think of the England (& Wales) Cricket Board, and the Freemasons.Any other suggestions??

Korakious said...

I'd say that Wales never really lost her independence, as to my knowledge, there was never an independent state of Wales but rather, a collection of Brythonic fiefdoms that were occupied and incorporated into the newly formed English, nominally French speaking, state.

That of course does not mean that Wales cannot or should not gain her independence now.

Ordovicius said...

I'd say that Wales never really lost her independence, as to my knowledge, there was never an independent state of Wales

States are a modern invention. Wales was by virtue of its ethnicity a nation, and as such it is correct to say that it lost its independence. The polity of its chief kingdoms was always to gain the overlordship of that nation and to defend it from encroachment by the English.

BTW, interesting post HERE

alanindyfed said...

Let's make no mistake about it. Everybody must unite to work together towards full independence for Cymru, the nation of Wales. Whatever the composition of the National Assembly or the alliances which may be formed Plaid should take the lead, and help to convince representatives of all political parties to push for greater and faster devolution from Westminster, so that we may all achieve our goal, and it is achievable. There is a groundswell in the community which is gaining momentum, and we have to assist the process in every way we can, making our own individual contribution in whichever way best suits us. We must not let up now, but forge ahead to free Cymru/Wales from the shackles of domination from Westminster.

Alan in Dyfed, Porth Tywyn