Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Accidentally leading Wales to independence?


If any group of independentistas had produced anything remotely similar to Mark Drakeford’s 20 point plan, there can be little doubt that the Welsh branch office of the British Labour Party (to say nothing of their close friends in the Welsh branch office of the Conservative and Unionist Party) would have rushed to condemn it, claiming that by setting conditions which it would be impossible for the British state to concede, the plan was a deliberate attempt to create a situation where failure was inevitable and where independence was the only viable option. Asking Westminster to accept that they should irreversibly relinquish all right to legislate in devolved areas and that the Senedd and Scottish Parliament have their own sovereign democratic mandate in those areas is asking them to abandon some core tenets of the unwritten UK constitution. And demanding to be treated as some sort of ‘equal’ – the response might not be put in these terms, but would be based on the belief that these people just don’t understand their place.

It would be comforting to believe that this was really Drakeford’s master plan – setting out conditions for the continuation of the union which no UK government will ever accept and thus turning the debate towards independence. However, Drakeford is too much of a dyed-in-the-wool unionist to plan to go down that route. That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that we must conclude that he really does believe that there are circumstances where the Westminster parliament will legislate along the lines he suggests. I don’t think that he’s naïve enough to believe that the Tories will ever do it, but I also struggle to understand that anyone who has been part of the British Labour Party for as long as he has believes that that party will do so either. Even if there were any currently conceivable possibility of that party getting anywhere near power in the next decade or so.

All of which can only suggest that it is little more than a tactic: an attempt to outline a possible future for the union in which Wales is not completely sidelined to try and stem the rise in support for independence and keep Labour in a leading position in Wales. Words, rather than action. There is, though, just a possibility that the unionist parties would have been right to condemn any such plan by independentistas as designed to fail. When it is shown clearly that his plan cannot and will not be implemented, could the leader of the Labour Party in Wales end up in a position where he has accidentally set up the conditions in which independence happens?


Gav said...

At the same time though you have to wonder what can be going through the UK Government's collective mind just now. The proposed eight-storey union jack on the new HMRC building in Cardiff will be a continual reminder (if any were needed) that all our taxes are going to Westminster. Practically begging people to vote for independence.

CapM said...

I wonder if all this Federation fantasy is basically Mark Drakeford trying to get noticed by the Labour leadership

- hey look at me I'm in charge of the only Labour Government in the UK, I'm a popular and the most successful Labour party leader. Why don't you get me a spot representing the Labour Party on UK wide TV programmes. It's like I'm an embarrassment to you. You could at least invite me round for dinner Keir.