Monday 13 August 2018

Devolution as EU plot

The new leader of UKIP in the Assembly has made clear his belief that his victory in the internal election was a direct result of his policy of abolishing the Assembly and that he now expects the whole party to fall into line behind him and support that policy line.  In a party with so few members, his 269-vote mandate is probably enough to carry the day and revert to the anti-devolution position that the party long maintained.  The real surprise is not so much that the party is swinging back towards hostility to devolution as that it ever made its fragile peace with the concept in the first place.  Still, as individuals and as a party, they have every right to campaign for the abolition of the Assembly, and indeed for the elimination of the Welsh language and all signs of Welsh identity if they wish.  It’s up to those of us who disagree to make the positive counter arguments, something which necessarily involves rather more than name-calling.
It’s not so long ago that UKIP were arguing that devolution in Wales was all part of an evil plot by the EU to divide and conquer.  Indeed, just two months ago, UKIP Scotland was still arguing that Brexit would expose “… the Scottish Parliament and devolution for what it really is. An EU plot to by-pass National Parliaments and create a Europe of Regions”, and that “Outside the EU there is no need for the devolved assemblies” because “All the assemblies have ever done is administrate and implement EU legislation”.
Their basis for this strange belief has always been a complete mystery to me; it’s as though the history of campaigning for domestic parliaments in Wales and Scotland before the EU was even established is somehow completely erased, and the national movements only sprang into existence at the instigation of the EU in order to help those horrid Brussels bureaucrats implement their dastardly plans.  It also somewhat glosses over the less-than-helpful response of ‘Brussels’ to the campaign for Catalan independence – if they really wanted to create a ‘Europe of the Regions’, an objective observer might suppose that they’d be actively supporting a movement for independent membership of the EU by a ‘region’ like Catalunya.
As another line in the statement by UKIP Scotland makes clear (“For the first time in 40 years, people are realising that sovereignty and legislative supremacy lies in the UK Parliament”), the party’s outlook is based very much on a centralist Anglo-British nationalist perspective.  From that perspective, the idea that anyone could ever espouse an identity which is any way different is anathema; it is the state which defines and gives identity, and the people must accept that.  And the British state is the only ‘natural’ unit of government - there should be nothing above and nothing below that level; independence and sovereignty are absolute and indivisible and belong to the centre.  We should remember though that it’s not only in UKIP that we find this dangerous form of nationalism; UKIP is merely the party which displays it most clearly.  There are plenty in the Conservative and Labour Parties whose core beliefs differ little when it comes to the question of where sovereignty lies.


dafis said...

Spot on analysis of UKIP's AngloBrit supremacist posture. They know better than EU, and it goes without saying that anything London centred is miles better than Welsh Cynulliad !!! How they see EU as aiming for an Europe of the regions when it's quite evident that the regions are seen as remotely secondary - but that just sums up the twisted UKIP view, hardly a vision.

Anonymous said...

I think it is refreshing that a political party is willing to campaign against the Assembly. Hopefully it will also campaign against the use of the Welsh language in public places such as hospitals, local councils and schools. And against the continuation of the 'Quango' obsession that has developed over the past eighteen years.

It matters not whether one agrees with such policies, it is just proof that democracy is alive and well here in Wales.

John Dixon said...

Personally, I don't see it as in any way 'refreshing' that anyone would seek to campaign for the obliteration of the Welsh language from the public sphere; but I respect their right to do so.

I think, though, that you underestimate the life-span of the quango obsession by a considerable margin; quangoes existed in Wales for a long long time before the advent of the Assembly, often used by a Tory party which had little electoral support in Wales as a means of running many aspects of Welsh life anyway by stuffing said quangos with their supporters. But we might even agree that the failure of the Labour Party in government in Wales to tackle the problem of unelected bodies is a huge disappointment. Don't make the mistake, though, of believing that abolition of the Assembly would solve that problem - it's more likely to boost the quango state than to reduce it, because of the desire of an electorally unpopular party to exercise its control by other means.