In today's Western Mail David Williamson writes an article to explain why Scot identity sees Wales’ devolution hopes lagging Mr Williamson writes the same tired old arguments about how Scotland lost its independence after Wales and retained a number of national institutions that Wales never had.
The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian in denomination. Having a national non-Anglican church has prevented full assimilation into English culture; says Mr Williamson. Conveniently forgetting that the reason why Church and State were separated in Wales in the 1920's was because the majority of Welsh people weren’t members of the state church and objected to the Anglican Church's privileges.
The presence of the four “ancient” universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh has ensured the development of an independent academic culture, is another reason given for Scotland's primacy in the independence stakes. The University of Wales may not be as old as the Scottish Universities, but it has been around for over a hundred years; so it should have bedded down as a national institution by now surely.
The reason's given by David Williamson for the differences in the fortunes of Scottish and Welsh national causes are not really reasons at all they are weak excuses. Until the 1970's the SNP use to follow Plaid's lead. Plaid was formed nine years before the SNP. The SNP's victory in the Motherwell by election in 1945 was seen by many as being made possible because of Saunders Lewis' campaign in the 1943 University of Wales by election. Winnie Ewing would have been unlikely to win the 1967 Hamilton by-election if Gwynfor hadn't paved the way in Carmarthen the previous year.
The reason why the SNP has overtaken Plaid is because the SNP has always been a party that has campaigned for Scottish Independence, whereas Plaid has usually been a bit ambivalent about independence. Since 1979 Plaid has virtually given up on independence as a political aim, hitching itself to the devolution wagon instead. Plaid Cymru refuses to campaign for independence and changes the subject when independence is attacked by others, rather than standing four square to defend the independence cause.
It is sad to think that Scotland could be independent before Wales even has a proper law making devolved parliament. It is sadder still that Plaid Cymru AM's and MP's seem happy to accept such a situation as inevitable and desirable