Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Greeks bearing gifts

Just over a month ago, three not-very-wise men took themselves off to Scotland and made a solemn promise.  Neither they nor those to whom they made said promise had much clue about what was actually contained in the promise, and it has become increasingly clear that whilst three of them were signing up to it, they were all signing up to something different.  And none of them bothered to consult their disciples in advance either.
The result, fairly inevitably, is a good deal of chaos within the unionist camp as they try and work out what it is that they’re going to deliver, and how to manage the fallout elsewhere.  In this context, further devolution to Wales – something about which they are all endeavouring to appear enthusiastic, despite standing previous policy positions on their head in the process – is little more than collateral damage for the great union.
And the result of that is a haphazard process which has more to do with getting the situation back under control and saving the skins of the not-so-wise than it does with working out what the best interests of Wales are, and how they should be met.  The work of thoughtful commissions which spent time researching and analysing before producing their conclusions has become nothing more than an ‘input’ to the backroom discussions being orchestrated by a Secretary of State who is showing all the signs of having forgotten everything he believed passionately just a few short weeks ago.
I share the concern expressed by Gareth Hughes about a bunch of men in suits cooking up an ad hoc deal in a backroom in London.  Sadly however Wales is not Scotland.  Whilst the future of Scotland is now being driven by her people, re-energised and re-engaged in politics by an exciting campaign, the future of Wales is still being managed where it has been managed for centuries.  Whilst I might wish that Wales had had the sort of recent history which has drawn people into debate about the future, it simply isn’t so.  Without a clear policy drive towards independence as Scotland has had, there is little prospect of Wales reaching that point any time soon.
So a deal of some sort is as good as it gets.  I might prefer that such a deal was hatched up in Cardiff rather than in London, but after seeing the joint statement by the party leaders from the Assembly, I’m not exactly confident that we won’t get more from panicking unionists in London than the sort of timid response which is all that Labour and the Tories in Cardiff are ever going to agree on.
The question which strikes me is about the role of nationalists in all this.  Given that the unionists are falling over themselves to stitch up a deal on which they can all agree, is it best for nationalists to be falling in with them and assisting their efforts to save the union, not to mention their leaders’ skins, or would it be better to seize the opportunity to put some real clear difference between the nationalist and unionist positions by spelling out the sort of alternative which Scotland was offered by its leaders? 
For me, one would have to believe that a nationalist input could make a significant difference to the final stitch-up to adopt the first approach, and to be blunt, I simply don’t believe that to be the case.  They will decide what they will decide.  And that decision will be driven by their electoral considerations, in England, then in Scotland, and as an afterthought, in Wales.  For nationalists to simply fall in with a unionist consensus to which they have contributed nothing would be a huge missed opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Link to Gareth Hughes not working?

John Dixon said...

Thanks for letting me know. Should be OK now.