Tuesday 10 June 2014

Yes Scotland

Just before Easter, an opinion poll suggested that most people in Wales want Scotland to vote against independence in September.  Given the low level of appetite for independence in Wales, and the almost complete absence of anyone actually putting the case, that was hardly a surprise (although it would have been nice to see some more detailed analysis as to why people took that view).  Ultimately, of course, it’s a matter for the Scots to decide, and in that very narrow sense it doesn’t really matter what we in Wales think.  I do not agree, however, that we should simply have no opinion on the matter.  I think that we should have an opinion, and be willing to express it, for three reasons.
Firstly, whatever the Scots decide will inevitably have an effect on Wales.  If they vote for independence, then the United Kingdom will no longer exist as a state.  (For the pedants: The union of crowns will continue, of course, until one or both countries become republics, but the single state and government will be consigned to history.)  Finding a new name for the non-Scottish part of the current UK will be just about the least important of the consequences of such a decision.  But even if the Scots vote no in September, it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that nothing will change.  Further devolution to Scotland is all but inevitable in that event - there will be an impact on Wales either way.
Secondly, the fact that the Scots are debating – and then voting on – their possible independence should be an ideal opportunity for nationalists in Wales to make the case for Wales to follow suit.  There would be something rather perverse about Welsh seekers of independence remaining silent at the very time when the question of independence has at last become part of a mainstream UK debate.
And thirdly, there is a long tradition of nationalists in Wales and Scotland providing support to each other’s campaigns.  Often, it’s been little more than moral support, but success enjoyed by the one has often boosted the other.  And Welsh nationalism could certainly do with a boost at present! 
I’m still not sure what Scotland will decide; the polls are close and getting closer.  But if I were living in Scotland, I’d be voting yes in September, and a yes vote is the outcome that I’d like to see, for the benefit of Wales as well as Scotland.  All of us who take that view should lend whatever support we can to our Scottish friends.  It can do no harm at all for independence-minded Scots to know that not everyone in Wales is against them, which is the impression which nationalist silence would convey.


Robert Tyler said...

I'm in John.
Robert Tyler

Anonymous said...

To be honest the Scots have always been more willing to fight for their corner than us Welsh and I wish them every success in September.

What worries me is far too many welsh nationalists seem to think a yes in Scotland will somehow deliver welsh independence by default soon after. Which is odd as Plaid Cymru’s leadership and elected representatives have spent lots of time and energy courting Scottish opinion, but are still unwilling despite the interest in Wales to what’s going on in Scotland putting the case for welsh independence in front of the electorate.

Scotland has already been changed by the thousands who have been politically awakened during the campaign, even if independence is won in September, but I fear for Wales future with current political leadership in all welsh parties and the apathy and indifference of the welsh electorate that yesterday's BBC Wales’s opinion poll showed.

John Dixon said...

Anon 11:58,

Those are rather sweeping and unsubstantiated generalisations, I fear, to such an extent that there's no substance to which to respond.

Anon 12:47,

I for one do not for a moment believe that Wales would become independent by default on the back of a Scottish yes. But I do believe that a Scottish yes would change the context for any discussion about Wales' future. Whether there's any political leadership ready and willing to respond to that new context is a much greater challenge, as you suggest.

Anonymous said...

Excellent to see John Dixon involved in campaigning again and I wish you well.

I am not convinced that many Welsh nationalists think a Scottish yes will deliver Welsh independence "soon after". But perhaps some do. Some people in Wales will actually want to be closer to England/Westminster if Scotland votes Yes. Welsh public opinion is many years away from supporting an independent Wales, and at the moment further devolution is probably up in the air.

It is true to say there will be a new debate and new context though if Scotland votes Yes, and that's what John is pointing out.