Monday, 10 December 2012

Growing up with the idea of an independent Wales

I grew up in a time when Wales didn't want to run its own affairs. I was 17 and just too young to vote in the 1979 referendum that rejected watered-down devolution decisively.

Nothing stays the same and now my eldest son is 16 and, like almost any teenager, only knows of a Wales with its own government and a Senedd, no matter how shackled and timid. He doesn't remember the dark days of direct rule.

 This new generation are growing up with the idea of greater confidence in their country's ability to run its own affairs. The older generations indulged in that Celtic cringe and we all too often slid back into blaming someone else for our woes. Enough of that.

 We need a positive reason to have the confidence to stand up. Scotland is leading the way here - the first leader of an independent Scotland is likely to be a young working-class woman from Glasgow who should have been a natural Labourite but saw through the sterile statism and inherent conservatism of that ideology. So many parallels with our own party's development in recent months under Leanne Wood.

 Gerry Hassan's perceptive piece is about how Nicola Sturgeon is making the case for an independent Scotland more relevant to people like herself. Our aim of an independent Wales also has to become more relevant - essential even - as we peer into this economic black hole created by bankers and politicians, who in turn are punishing the poor and disabled.

 We certainly can't wait for the feeble government currently lurking in Cardiff Bay to deliver an alternative to austerity. They're happy to keep Wales voting Labour until the next UK election. That's their real prize - regaining power in London rather than standing up for a Welsh alternative.

 There is a generational shift taking place as these teenagers grow up with that idea firmly planted. We've come a long way since 1979...


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this blog. Thanks. You wrote, "I grew up in a time when Wales didn't want to run its own affairs." I see no signs that it does now, I'm afraid, although we have an Assembly. Nor do I see any of the confidence you describe among young people. Ambitious young people I have spoken to in Conwy county see their future in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London.

You refer to "the dark days of direct rule". I'm not sure that they were so dark, and I'm sure that you were wrong to refer to "direct rule". A matter of great importance to me is the survival of the Welsh language. In this respect those "dark" days were the good old days. You'll be aware of dismal census figures published today. I'm not sure that "direct rule" is an appropriate phrase either. Wales took a leading part in the ruling of the United Kingdom. Figures like Lloyd George and Nye Bevin played a major role in the history of these islands. Teachers from Wales educated generations of English children in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London, and Wales had strong county councils defending the interests of local populations.

Incidentally, I don't see any serious movement for extending the Assembly's powers. I hope you'll forgive me for saying that I see Plaid Cymru as a regional version of UKIP - a party of protest, rather than a serious party.

I wish you well, and I wish my adopted homeland well, but I don't see that "We've come a long way since 1979".

Anonymous said...

A very good post and hit home, especially when you said "nothing stays the same". We have to be upbeat. It's really difficult when you have news like today's census, but we have to bounce back from it and as Gwynfor Evans said, secure a national future for Wales.

Anonymous said...

dream on, the English who've move in to Wales will never allow Wales to become independent. It's not going to happen unless something cataclysmic happens to the UK, and even then, voters will want to stay with England.

Callum Edwards said...

We also must remember that the party you heavily criticise is the party that brought devolution into existence, without Labour there would be no devolution it would not exist. We also must remember Plaid has never had more that 3 MPs, without the help of forward thinking Labour MPs the Senedd and welsh govt would still be just a dream. There is also evidence that he slow steady drip of power from London to Cardiff has created a more experienced and thus more ready assembly, prepared to accept the new challenges soon on the way. Let us not jump the gun let us mould a nation, that is ready to deal with its own problems. Nation building takes many years and a country like Wales that lacked any major political, economic or legal institution before 1997 will take even longer.....drawing comparisons between Wales and Scotland is a mistake as they were unionised with England whereas Wales was assimilated - Never doubt the fact I want my country governed in Cardiff but it will take a lot longer to wean Wales of the comfortable tap of British cash than Scotland and we must remember this !

Plaid Whitegate said...

An interesting perspective from a Labour teenager @16.28 that confirms the way our country is changing. Of course there would be no devolution without Labour legislating for it, just like Thatcher legislated for S4C. However the real impetus for these changes has always been extra-parliamentary. Plaid's small parliamentary presence has always punched above its weight because it is one wing of a much larger movement.
On the matter of subsidy... an independent Wales would run its affairs very differently to the present UK (specifically in terms of its slavish worship of the City and finance capital) and an independent Wales would have no more of a deficit than the present set up.