The publication of the Scottish White Paper on independence has resulted in a little bit of discussion in Wales. Not much, and not of the highest standard, I must admit, but a little bit is better than nothing.
The interesting thing is that the Unionist response in both Scotland and Wales hasn't really been one that defends the Union; it has been one that attacks Scotland and Wales. A case in point is the comment by Mal Humphreys (Mumph) in yesterday's Wales on Sunday "we don't have the calibre of politicians in Wales".
The most common argument aimed at putting Wales down is the economic argument. Wales is too poor to go it alone; Wales is too dependent on English money. This is factually incorrect, degrades Wales and is actually an argument that undermines the Union.
It is factually incorrect, because although Wales is the poorest of the four constituent countries of the UK, the UK is a very, very rich country so even its poorer areas are relatively rich. As Penddu pointed out on the Welsh Independence blog last week, even if Wales GDP remained at its current level of 80% of the current UK average then Wales would still be the 12th richest country in Europe and the 26th richest in the World. The fact that Wales is continuously the poorest country in the Union is in itself proof that the economic argument is a fallacy. The Union has made us poorer than the rest of the UK and will keep us poorer than the rest of UK. The only way for Wales to become richer is by us taking control of our own economy for our own benefit.
The economic argument degrades Wales by saying that our role in the Union is to milk it. Any decent union involves give and take, but this Unionist argument claims that Wales should take all and give nothing, an argument that I find morally offensive. If the best vision for the future of Wales that Unionist politicians can offer us is for us to continue as the jolly beggers of Britain, then perhaps Mumph is right in his assessment of the calibre of our politicians. But if that is their vision of Wales' future in the Union I want no part in it.
The economic argument that Wales is dependent on English handouts is actually harmful to the future of the Union. It may appeal to the ignorant and fearful in Wales, but it isn't going to appeal to the people of England, who are themselves now asking what has the Union got to offer England? And they are finding the answer Sod all except scrounging Celts! Because that is what the Unionists in Scotland and Wales have been telling us is the Union Dividend for years.
As the Scottish process continues, the debate in Wales and England is also going to intensify. Unionists are going to have to find much more persuasive arguments than they have offered thus far. The problem is, of course, that when they try to think of them they are always at a loss to find any, because the only conclusion that anybody who thinks about the amalgamation of Wales and England can really come up with is that Wales was joined to England in medieval times for medieval reasons. Those reasons no longer exist in the 21st centaury, so the best way forward is for our two countries to agree to an amicable separation.
Wales on Sunday adds to independence debate
Alan in Dyfed