A Nationalist not a Devolutionist

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days - the computer has been playing up.

I made a comment on Normal Mouth's blog a couple of days ago, in which I said that I wouldn't thank Tony Blair for devolution, because I am a nationalist and not a devolutionist. This comment seemed to surprise both Normal and Gwe, and I must admit that their surprise surprised me a bit.

I would have expected that everybody would know that devolution and nationalism are not one and the same thing. Devolution is a system of government that is supported by people who are clearly not nationalists, Rhodri Morgan, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Jack McConnell; Nick Bourne and Annabel Golding; Ming Cambell, Mike German and Nicol Stephens. Even the Union's arch unionist the Rev Ian Paisley supports devolution. Either these people are closet nationalists or Devolutionism and Nationalism are incompatible.

Unionists see devolution as a way of stopping / frustrating nationalism by recognising the reality of national / regional identity values and trying to address them within a unionist context. George Robinson went as far as supporting devolution because he claimed that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead

Nationalists should recognise that devolution is a means of stopping / frustrating nationalism. Whilst not opposing any devolutionary step we should always reject devolution as not good enough, because devolution isn't independence. This is the view taken by the SNP, who didn't join the "devolutionist" Scottish Convention in the mid 1990's, because it is a nationalist and not a devolutionist party.

The only, so-called, nationalist party that we have in Wales, Plaid Cymru, has swallowed the devolutionary worm hook, line and sinker. Plaid has given up on campaigning for independence (until 2050 according to ex MP Simon Thomas) and is now committed to the evolution of devolution.

As devolution is an unionist device aimed a stopping / frustrating nationalism and as Plaid is now a fully fledged advocate of devolution, a party that sees independence as a long term goal, rather than an election issue; the only conclusion that one can come to is that Plaid is no longer a nationalist party. Plaid is now a fully fledged unionist party that supports the unionist means of stopping / frustrating nationalism until the likes of me are well rotted in the grave.

Its time for Plaid to stop depending on nationalist sentiment for its core vote, whilst betraying that sentiment at every opportunity. It's time for nationalists to stop supporting a unionist wolf in nationalist sheep's clothing.

It's time for Plaid members to make a decision. Do they want to reclaim the party for the nationalist cause, or would they prefer to see another party fighting for the national vote in the near future?


  1. I have a great deal of sympathy for Alwyn's remarks here but I am reluctant to go along with his view that Plaid Cymru is not a nationalist party. I see Plaid as using every device in its drive to independence for Wales, and one of these devices is devolution. Utimately, though, it is the people of Wales who decide.

  2. Alwyn,

    First things first, I also said I wouldn't thank Bliar for devolution.

    Unlike you however, I believe that devolution - in the UK context - is the only way to secure more power for Wales. There is no certainty that a referendum on law making powers would succeed. How you can talk about indepedence as the next workable step in turn amazes me.

    The first priority must be to ensure that any Welsh government delivers - even under the constraints of the GoW Act.

    The next priority must be to secure law making and tax avrying powers for a proper parliament. In order to secure a 'Yes' vote, the above must surely first be carried out successfully.

    What matters most to me is reaching the stage, as quickly as possible, where a Welsh government can legislate without going cap in hand to Westminster. Only then will a truly different polity for Wales be able to flourish.

    This is not to say that there is no place for the 'independence' argument. I also want to see Wales as a full member of the EU and I also believe that the notion that the UK as a state is somehow sacrosanct is nonsense. I agree with you that in order for 'independence' not be a taboo that it needs to be discussed and not brushed under the carpet. You rightly point out that the SNP broke away from the Scottish Convention, but Plaid will achieve more in Wales by being part of a government ( be it Red/Green or Rainbow, which will happen at some point if Labour votes against the coalition) than by rhetoric.

    However, as I said on Norm's comments section, looking at voting patterns and attitudes in Wales over the last decades, there is nothing there than convinces me that the electorate would be willing to make that leap to independence in the next decade or so.

    The situation will probably be different in twenty years time, when people have become used to having most of the decisions that effect their daily lives - PROVIDING of course, that a Welsh Parliament is in place.

    Unless that happens, we nationalists can talk about independence as much as we like, but we'll be talking to ourselves.

  3. Oops.. there's a bit missing.

    The last sentence in the last paragraph but one should read:

    "...when people have become used to having most of the decisions that effect their daily lives decided in Cardiff and not Westminster..."

  4. " Utimately, though, it is the people of Wales who decide. "

    If it is not clear to those within the party then how can Jo Public make a desicion what to vote for?

    And they do not know. There is a lot of confusion and a number of ideas floating around. Who do we believe?

    The National Executive needs to come clear on exactly what it represents. That would silence all the theorist on line and the media who are just adding to the confusion.

  5. For me, devolution is simply a process, a mechanism for moving towards our final goal - but our final destination must remain independence (and 2020 is a far more realistic target than 2050)

    Devolution = Partial Independence

    Independence = Total Devolution

  6. Things happen - go back 20 years and independence for Estonia or Latvia for example was as far off the agenda as it was possible to be. History has given the kaleidoscope a shake and new countries emerge, the certainties that we assume to be set in stone can change in a few tumultious months.

    In recent years Plaid Cymru has tailed after the world-view typified by the Guardian and the BBC like a little dog. It has become respectable, adopting all the politically correct causes. It has done everything it can to ditch that "nationalist" tag that the PC brigade find so distasteful. In doing all this it has turned its back on those issues that concern the great majority of hard-working, law-abiding folk - the gwerin if you like. The social-worker mentality prevails - if you want original thinking on social issues turn to the likes of Frank Field - not Plaid Cymru. If you want to know Plaid's policies on any issue then turn to the leader pages of the Independent and the Guardian.

    I guess Plaid Cymru is too far gone to save. I'd like to see a nationalist party that campaigned for independence, that was in tune withn the mass of the people who the Guardianistas despise, a party that was not socialist but which rather encouraged enterprise, a party that saw Wales as an ally of the United States rather than Cuba ...... infact a party that wanted an independent Wales with more sympathy for Estonia than the current politically correct hegemony of which Plaid is so happy to be a part. Western Europe is certainly due a shake of the kaleidoscope and Wales needs a party to take advantage of that.

  7. Elio:

    couldn't agree more, heck, that comment sounds like something I would have said, good job.

  8. It's not time at all. I'm not a Plaid supporter nor a nationalist. In fact I hate both devolution and nationalism. However, if I did have the ludicrous, disloyal, ambition of achieving an independent Wales, I would regard Plaid's route as the smart option.

    Welsh people, other than such as you (and I actually respect you greatly), at the moment hate the idea of independence. It will never happen in our time. But the slow but sure, wedge-in-the-block approach may just work. In fact, it's that only one that will.

  9. the ludicrous, disloyal, ambition of achieving an independent Wales,
    Disloyal to who? A bit of psychological projection there, me thinks.

  10. Plaid's route is the smartest option, and I am not just toeing the party line. But underlying all this is undoubtedly, for all members, the drive to independence.ps

  11. "Things happen - go back 20 years and independence for Estonia or Latvia for example was as far off the agenda as it was possible to be."

    Yes and no.

    Yes, Latvians probably thought their day would never come and when it did, the world didn't stop spinning, they got on with it. I don't dispute that should Wales be miraculously handed independence then of course we would, well, just get on with it!

    I also agree that comparisons with Latvia or Estonia are useful, because if they can do it, why can't we? In fact, this is one of the most valid counter arguments to the sanctity of the UK state. If Estonia, Lativia, Malta etc etc etc...

    However, the UK is not the Soviet Union. The Baltic states also had a substancial diaspora/lobby in the United States and it was in fact crystal clear that once the Soviet Union would collapse, the Baltic states would become independent in some shape or form. So, in a sense, the argument had already been won.

    In that sense at least, Wales is most certainly not Latvia.

  12. Every nation has its unique characteristics and problems which cannot be resolved by citing another nation's circumstances, or by pursuing their direction. With good leadership and wise guidance Wales will come through, and play its unique role in the politics and economics of Europe.

  13. gwe - how many new countries are there in Europe, a dozen? And some people say the nation-state is dead. It seems to me that the EU is a pretty unstable creation, how will it cope for example with an economic depression? The UK ... well Ireland quit in 1921, it's handed over a good deal of power to Brussels, the Six Counties are semi-detached and Scotland is on the way to independence .. oh and Brown has just said that the English can't have English votes for English issues. Is the UK really such a stable state?

    One of the great strengths of the Baltic States was that those pesky Americans never recognized the Soviet "liberation". In other ways Latvia for example was far weaker than Wales with a smaller population and just 52% of them Latvian after years of socialist planning.

  14. how many new countries are there in Europe, a dozen?

    Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Armenia, Azerbaijan

  15. Elio - I am not arguing that the nation state is dead, or that Wales is not a credible candidate as an independent country. Quite the contrary.

    As for the EU being unstable, I don't quite understand what you mean. Yes, "small" countries have joined recently - the vast majority of which emerging from the former Soviet Block. But there has been no significant shift in what we might call "western" Europe.

    As for the UK being stable, much as I would like to pretend otherwise, this hotch-potch has survived for far longer than any sensible observer might have guessed three hundred years ago:)

  16. elio said:
    "I guess Plaid Cymru is too far gone to save. "

    It does sound dire if you rely on blogs. But thriving in real life, nothing like a kick of coalition adrenalin to shock a party into life:D

  17. gwe - well you know what happened the last time there was a prolonged economic depression in Western Europe.

    Another factor in the possible destabilising of Western Europe are the demographics of Islamification. Now it would help if progressive opinion supported groups like the Council of ex-Muslims in Britain instead we get one of Plaid's silly AMs backing the burka.

    Look nearly everyone I talk to is thoroughly pissed-off with a political class that just doesn't address the average Joe's concerns. A Welsh party that did, would be in a good position to take advantage of any collapse in confidence of the ruling elite. It would be good if that party could be Plaid Cymru but on current form I can't see it.

    The Soviet example isn't so different by the way - a ruling elite that was just out of touch and finally realised that it's most cherished beliefs were just wrong.

  18. I find elio's comments negative and depressing. Although Plaid is an independence party it does address the concerns of the average Joe and Jane in the streets, and if elio will give them a chance to prove themselves in power he will see this in action. It would be good to see some enthusiasm for the expriment in consensus pollitics in Wales.

  19. I find elio's comments negative and depressing.

    Welcome to the cynical world of politics and freedom of opinion Alan.