Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Facilitating the abolitionists

The decision by UKIP to seek a referendum on abolishing the National Assembly, and to campaign in favour of abolition if such a referendum is held, can hardly come as a great surprise.  UKIP is, and always has been, an Anglo-British nationalist party in whose eyes the UK is a single nation.  And for many years, they argued that ‘devolution’ was all a dastardly EU plot to divide that single nation.  It’s rather more of a surprise for a politician of any party to say that he and his colleagues “...add no value to public life”, but then saying strange things is normal in the context of UKIP and expecting them to act on the logic of that assertion is wholly unrealistic.  We are talking about UKIP here.
They are, of course, perfectly entitled to campaign for the abolition of the Assembly, and for holding repeat referendums as part of that campaign.  It’s effectively an admission that a single referendum at a point in time can never amount to an absolute determination of a question for all time - but expecting them to accept the consequences of that in other contexts is also wholly unrealistic.  We are, after all, talking about UKIP here.  But, if they can ever get a majority in the Assembly for their viewpoint, then a referendum probably becomes inevitable.  It’s highly unlikely as things stand, although we need to remember that, just a few years ago, Brexit also looked highly unlikely.  Nevertheless, the prospect of a party or parties denying the existence of a distinct Welsh nation – let alone opposing any form of political expression for that nationality – winning a majority in the Assembly isn’t something which worries me unduly at present.  I’m more concerned about the current majority, which is made up of parties who seem to be forever seeking to put limits on that political expression.  Condemning UKIP for arguing for an extreme isn’t enough to cover their own complicity in the current state of affairs; and perpetuating a system in which the Assembly is open to criticism for failures some of which stem directly from its own lack of power is the breeding ground from which UKIP’s statement flows.

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