14/10/2007

Alan, Plaid and the Union

Alan in Dyfed is clearly a Plaid Cymru sycophant who can't see any fault in his own party.

He has claimed, in many a comment, that I am some sort of a lesser Welshman because I'm not a party member and that those of you who are supporters of other parties are almost beyond redemption unless, of course, you have a change of heart on the road to Llanascus.

Some have suggested that Alan is such a Labour caricature of a Plaid supporter that he can't be true or that he does more harm than good to the party's cause. I disagree, I think that Alan is the true personification of Plaid's problems.

The first problem is the inability to accept that anybody who isn't a member of Plaid has Wales' best interest at heart.

Just before the 1979 devolution referendum I was in Cardiff whilst an international rugby mach was taking place. There were thousands of Welsh fans, people who supported Wales with a passion, who had Vote No stickers on their Welsh scarves. At the time I couldn't understand it; after 28 years of reflection I now realise that they wanted the best for Wales but didn't think that devolution was the best for Wales. They might have been wrong, but they most certainly weren’t anti Welsh - they opposed devolution for patriotic reasons.

Of course Alan is correct in saying that there are members of other parties who are pathologically anti-Welsh, but they are few.

Most people with an interest in Welsh politics want what is best for Wales. The national cause would be best served if nationalists accepted this fact and tried to engage with those who want the best for Wales rather than condemning all opponents as quislings, lackeys and traitors.

The second problem is Plaid's inability to distinguish between devolution and independence. Again we see it in one of Alan's posts. The Conservatives make positive noises about devolution ending with the statement that they are committed to devolution whilst remaining committed to the Union.

Alan sees this as some sort of oxymoron! How can you be committed to both the Union and Devolution? By supporting their commitment to devolution with a commitment to the Union the Tories, according to Alan, deny all that has been aforesaid.

This attitude to devolution, which is rife in Plaid Cymru, either proves that the party is naive or it proves that it is duplicitous. Devolution is a unionist issue. At best devolution slows down any movement towards independence, at worst it kills independence stone dead.

Whilst Plaid Cymru supports enhanced devolution it opposes independence. Whilst Plaid campaigns for Scottish type powers over less than a fifth of Scotland's responsibilities by 2015, Plaid is campaigning against independence, it is campaigning for a unionist agenda, it is behaving like a unionist party.

Now if Plaid is both a Socialist and, practically, a Unionist party, what reason do I have for voting Plaid in the next election? I may as well support the Conservative and Unionist Party! At least I agree with the conservative bit of the Tories' offering whereas I disagree with both Plaid's support for socialism and its support for the unionist trick called devolution.

41 comments:

  1. Buttering us up for your entry into the Conservative Party, Alwyn?

    I don't think your argument that supporting devolution means opposing independence holds much water though, nor that Plaid is an Unionist party. On the one hand you criticise Alun for being the obvious relic that he is, yet at the same time criticise Plaid for not living in the romantic little world that he does by pushing an independence agenda. Seems like you want to have your cake and eat it to me.

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  2. i don't think devolution is a trick. If you're going to have a unitary British state then some form of federalism is a necessity.

    Of course devolution is a unionist solution but as long as Wales is part of the British state then anything that helps Wales is a good thing.

    I don't see why an independence agenda is romantic either, just look at how many newly independent European states have appeared in the last 20 years.

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  3. yeh, the ord with his 70s agenda is just as much a relic as Alan, although without the latters good nature.

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  4. qyftfOld Fart: thos epeople voting No but supporting Wales at sport may indeed have thought they were doign the right thing for the country. But it's perfectly possible for us to think, and to say, that they were wrong, without being seen as somehow extreme or intolerant. They were wrong. As for the bellowing rugby support and the anti-devoluution position, that is perfectly understandable: most of us in Wales have been force-fed inferiority, dependancy and general cultural low-self-esteem for generations. It's not surprising that people therefore place the putt of their expectations on a mere game - it staves off other kinds of self-expression. Many of them were probably anti-Welsh too, or genuinely believed, like the Kinnocks, that the Welsh language is divisive and holds Wales back. If the measure of the rightness of an opinion is how sincerely it is held, then you end up sticking up for people who are full of shit.
    I well recall the 79 debacle, and one of the things I most clearly recalll abotu it is the ardent and barely concealed Welsh-language hating subtext of the No campaign. They may have been sincere. I'm sure they were., But they were also vicious, devious, dishnonest and laid the way open for Thatcher to come and piss comrehensively on our chips without our being able to raise a finger.
    Vote Tory. Go ahead. You'll soon see what the Tory party as a whole thinks of the likes of us, Welsh or English speaking Welsh people, our cultural and language rights, and our hopes of even limited self-governance. The Jones-Evanses, Bebbs, Glyn Davieses and Meldings et al are all window-dressing. But go ahead, join the tories. You'l be able ... famous last words... to 'change things from the inside...'

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  5. One person's 'window dressing' is another person's 'image of the future'. There are so many who are desperate to ensure that the Conservative Party is seen as reactionary and unwilling to accept the reality of a devolved Britain - because our message is appealing to those who have dismissed us for so long. I suggest that a few more names can be added to the list of 'window dressings' including the Tory leader in the National Assembly and a few of the AMs. Open your eyes and see what is happening - and acknowledge that it is great news for Wales.

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  6. yeh, the ord with his 70s agenda is just as much a relic as Alan

    LOL

    You don't read my blog, do you now?

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  7. agenda benda14/10/2007, 13:21

    "yeh, the ord with his 70s agenda is just as much a relic as Alan, although without the latters good nature."

    Cor blimey, Alan in Dyfed using a sock puppet. Who'd have thought? Try being more up to date next time though AiD. Ordo isn't quite old enough to know what a "70s agenda" is. Which agenda is that then...the one where you don't run a blog resembling a crap version of Braveheart?

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  8. Sanddef, If I was going to join the Conservative, or any other party, I would do so without feeling the need to butter you or anybody else up first.

    The fact that devolution is a unionist solution is patently obvious - whilst Plaid supports devolution rather than campaigning for independence it is following a unionist agenda. When Ieuan Wyn says, as he does in almost every election campaign, "this election is not about independence" he is clearly opposing independence and supporting the Union.

    If independence is romantic, then your reality must be unionist, if you favour your reality over my romanticism then you support unionism and oppose nationalism.

    The fact that you didn't think that the independence agenda was romanticism until you joined Plaid all of three weeks ago almost proves the point that I make about Plaid.

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  9. OK, Glyn:
    1 - will the conservative party suppport further powers for the Assembly, yes or no? and will it do so in a united way, yes or no?
    2 - Who speaks for Welsh Tories? David Davies, for whom the Assembly was just a step on the ladder to Westminster (though a nicely paying one, especially for something he thought was 'a waste of money' - not to him obviously)... or your good self?
    Most of your colleagues, Alun Cairns too, given that he's next up for a MP candidacy, think of the Assembly as a sort of prep-school streaming system for people who want to to join the grownups and wear long trousers at Westminster. It';s ironic that you - who actually always wanted to be an AM - should now be standing as an MP.

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  10. Agree with every word. In fact, surely Labour's real agenda in 1998, one they didn't even bother to hide properly, was to sabotage nationalist movements in Scotland and Wales in order to hang on to what they disparagingly call the "Celtic fringe vote" that keeps coming to their rescue in crucial Westmnister votes? Although there are signs that this may be backfiring in Scotland...

    If you want independence, then devolution is simply an irrelevance to the real issue - not only does it obscure the real questions, but ti takes all the heat out of the issue. As it happens, I'm in favour of greater devolution but not full-up Welsh independence - but then being a half-blood I would say that wouldn't I?!

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  11. "Of course Alan is correct in saying that there are members of other parties who are pathologically anti-Welsh, but they are few."

    FEW??? Have you read the rubbish by Labour MP's? I'd say that the majority of Labour MP's are anti Welsh (identity + language), and the Tory MP's aren't much better.

    "The second problem is Plaid's inability to distinguish between devolution and independence."

    If you believe in devolution as a process not an event, the obvious ending is independence. Plaid could call for a referendum on Welsh independence straight away, but we would lose. I think Plaid's tactic is sensible BUT I also believe that they need to promote independence more during this process so that within a certain timescale, independence it will be a realistic prospect.

    "At best devolution slows down any movement towards independence, at worst it kills independence stone dead. Whilst Plaid Cymru supports enhanced devolution it opposes independence. "

    Sorry Alwyn, but this is nonsense. Anything that strengthens Welsh identity, anything that makes the people of Wales look at things through a Welsh perspective rather than a British one will strengthen the support for Welsh Independence. Before devolution, people in Wales couldn't grasp the concept of 'Wales' in political terms. They supported Wales at rugby, at football etc but in the political sense, most people in Wales had a British perspective. We have seen this slowly chane since devolution. Devolution has also been a blessing, as it has encouraged/forced the British Parties to change their perspective as well, and we can see this especially with the way the Tories have become more Welsh since devolution (but by not nearly enough!)

    "Whilst Plaid campaigns for Scottish type powers over less than a fifth of Scotland's responsibilities by 2015, Plaid is campaigning against independence, it is campaigning for a unionist agenda, it is behaving like a unionist party."

    Again nonsense. Independence was simply a dream for a few die-hard nationalists in Scotland before independence. Since having a proper parliament in Scotland, the support for the SNP has surged, as has the support for Scottish independence (although I still think that Scotland is still a long way from independence at the moment.) I think that something similar could happen here in Wales once we achieve a full Welsh Parliament with real powers.

    "Now if Plaid is both a Socialist and, practically, a Unionist party,"

    Dere 'mlaen Alwyn, ti'n well na hyn!!

    "what reason do I have for voting Plaid in the next election? I may as well support the Conservative and Unionist Party!"

    PLAID:
    Party Policy is to support a Full Parliament for Wales, similar to the Parliament in Scotland within less than a decade.
    Long-term party policy is independence.

    TORIES:
    No Policy in favour of further devolution, with a few high profile members supporting a full Welsh Parliament, but most still opposed or at least sceptical or wary.

    I think the choice is a quite simple one for a self-confessed Welsh Nationalist. Don't You??

    "At least I agree with the conservative bit of the Tories' offering"

    Your seriously making too much of this ‘Socialist’ issue. Things have changed quite a lot during the last century, it’s not as simple as Conservative or Socialist any more.

    Plaid Cymru is a Social Democratic Party (which does falls under the main umbarella of Socialism). The Tories in Wales and at UK level are also converting to Social democracy. Policy wise, there wasn’t that much difference between the Tories and Plaid at the last Assembly election. The fundamental difference of course was Plaid’s support for a full Welsh Parliament. Plaid also supported ‘Nationalist’ policies like a New Welsh language Act – including the Private Sector - Plaid also support Welsh independence in the long run of course.

    A good essay on Social Democracy is available here:
    http://www.georgetown.edu/centers/cdats/bermanpaper.pdf

    What Welsh Conservative policies do you support?

    What Plaid policies do you strongly disagree with?

    One final point. If you do strongly believe that Plaid Cymru does not represent the views of many Welsh nationalists like yourself, do something about it. Try to change Plaid or stand as an independent candidate. These are just ideas. I don’t think that continuously slagging off the only Welsh Nationalist Party on the Internet is a method that will succeed in gaining Welsh independence! (even though some criticism is deserved of course).

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  12. david rodway14/10/2007, 17:24

    It's really just sophistry to say that devolution is a distraction from independence, but it's stupid to say, as alwyn says, that because he wants full independence he'd rather vote for a party (conservative) that opposes both independence and devolution, rather than the only party that fully supports the one (devolution) as a means to another (independence).
    It's a point of view witha certain skewy anti-logic, but it is bollocks for all that.

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  13. I agree with a lot of what Mr Diflas is saying ... can't understand why Plaid is so afraid of the independence issue - the bloke in the street thinks Plaid stands for independence in any case - and what is wrong with wanting to join the dozen or so newly independent countries of Europe.

    I also agree that the socialism tag is just nonsense, an attempt to gain votes in the valleys, it has failed to make any real progress in 40 years. This rather than independence is the real romanticism, tying Plaid to a failed ideology.

    However there is one big difference between Plaid and the other parties, it is the only party whose first loyalty is to Wales and the Welsh people.

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  14. The interesting thing is that devolution was supported by two opposing political ideologies for two entirely opposing reasons. Unionists adopted it because they believed it would strengthen the union. Nationalists endorsed it because they saw it as a stepping stone towards independence. Because of this cross-ideology pick-up the policy was taken up when perhaps it might not have been. but both sides can't be right.

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  15. Sanddef, If I was going to join the Conservative, or any other party, I would do so without feeling the need to butter you or anybody else up first.

    It was a joke, Alwyn

    The fact that devolution is a unionist solution is patently obvious

    Er, no it isn't

    whilst Plaid supports devolution rather than campaigning for independence it is following a unionist agenda.

    Wrong again. It's living in the real world.

    When Ieuan Wyn says, as he does in almost every election campaign, "this election is not about independence" he is clearly opposing independence and supporting the Union.

    No, not really. It's called being pragmatic. Tends to go together with realism, a term you don't seem to be able to come to grips with.

    If independence is romantic, then your reality must be unionist, if you favour your reality over my romanticism then you support unionism and oppose nationalism.

    By "romanticism" I'm refering to the kind of stuff Alan comes out with, which you yourself criticise in this post. Stick to the context of the post, please.

    The fact that you didn't think that the independence agenda was romanticism until you joined Plaid all of three weeks ago almost proves the point that I make about Plaid.

    See the above comment. I support independence, but I recognise that the majority don't. That was the case before I REjoined Plaid, and that remains the case now. But since when was this "debate" about me, Alwyn?

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  16. Because of this cross-ideology pick-up the policy was taken up when perhaps it might not have been. but both sides can't be right.

    It's hardly a question of being right or wrong NM

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  17. It's hardly a question of being right or wrong NM

    I'll rephrase - since devolution will either lead to independence or a stronger union only one of the objectives mooted by those who supported devolution will be borne out.

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  18. I'll rephrase - since devolution will either lead to independence or a stronger union only one of the objectives mooted by those who supported devolution will be borne out.

    The objective of devolution is to create a Welsh democracy. It goes without saying that this is an ongoing process, and that as more areas are devolved, other areas of competency that are then needed to be devolved are brought to light. The whole process at least implies the recognition of the sovereignty of the Welsh people, an implication that may become a formal reality if the coming Constitutional Convention follows the example of the Scottish one.

    Let us look at Scotland for a moment. If there was enough bums on seats at Holyrood to support independence, then (unlike Spain) there would be no constitutional constraint preventing Scotland from becoming independent. I'm sure that this would also be the case in a Welsh parliament.

    So I ask you, if Wales has Home Rule, her sovereignty aknowledged, and the constitutional freedom to become an independent state should she so choose, is this not an acceptable outcome for nationalists?

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  19. So I ask you, if Wales has Home Rule, her sovereignty aknowledged, and the constitutional freedom to become an independent state should she so choose, is this not an acceptable outcome for nationalists?

    A very interesting point, and one I'm not well placed to answer. We might call this "Life of Brian" Nationalism; like the character who claims he should have the right to have children even though he can't actually have them, Welsh Nationalism might be satisfied with the right of Wales to become independent, without it actually happening.

    Fair enough. In those circumstances, devolution could indeed serve two masters at once. But I reckon there are plenty of nats who want actual, rather than theoretical nationalism.

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  20. Sorry that last bit should read "But I reckon there are plenty of nats who want actual, rather than theoretical independence".

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  21. "So I ask you, if Wales has Home Rule, her sovereignty aknowledged, and the constitutional freedom to become an independent state should she so choose, is this not an acceptable outcome for nationalists?"

    Well it would be acceptable if voting eligibility was based on the current German system.

    As it is Welsh sovereignity will be decided by a lot of here today gone tomorrow people - English students, folk who have come to Wales to die ..... are we so far gone down the road of political correctness that that is an acceptable outcome for the Welsh nation?

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  22. At the moment all the parties have made the pragmatic decision to try to make devolution work.Paradoxically the close result to the referendum made the politicians realise that they had to deliver if it was to survive.No such doubt arose in Scotland and that is one reason why it seems to have been less successful.The SNP see Holyrood as a "stepping stone" (to use the phrase of Michael Collins) to independence.The Plaid leaders seem to have the sense to realise that this is a step too far for the public.

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  23. A step too far? .... Whatever happened to the idea of leading public opinion rather than just following it?

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  24. We might call this "Life of Brian" Nationalism; like the character who claims he should have the right to have children even though he can't actually have them

    Not really, but nice try. I'm quite clearly talking about the right and the ability.

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  25. Not really, but nice try. I'm quite clearly talking about the right and the ability.

    A fair distinction. But you do seem to suggest that merely the right and the ability will do in place of the fact.

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  26. A fair distinction. But you do seem to suggest that merely the right and the ability will do in place of the fact.

    Again: if Wales has Home Rule, her sovereignty aknowledged, and the constitutional freedom to become an independent state should she so choose, is this not an acceptable outcome for nationalists?

    This scenario does not prevent nationalists from pursuing independence. Im merely emphasising that devolution from a nationalist point of view is ver much worth pursuing, even moreso given that there is not enough support for independence at the moment. I'm also pointing out that it is quite absurd to claim that devolution is opposed to independence, or that it could lead to its demise. The right and ability to become independent is of no small importance either, because it safeguards the freedom of Wales.

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  27. m merely emphasising that devolution from a nationalist point of view is ver much worth pursuing.

    I never said otherwise (in fact, I said as much). My point was that both objectives (independence and a stronger union) cannot ultimately be met.

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  28. It is good to see that Hedd puts Plaid's position on the independence issue in its right context as the ultimate aim of Plaid's raison d'etre. It is correct to say that Plaid is working with devolution, not to strengthen the union as the protagonists of devolution sought, but to assist the cause of independence by working within the system, as Sinn Fein did. Plaid's aim has always been independence for Wales and this was never in doubt. It falls on Gwynfor's grandson to reinforce the intention which all nationalists, not only Plaid, are working towards. I did not say that one must be a Plaid member to espouse the cause of Home Rule. But I say that it is in the best interests of the Welsh people that this should come about. We only have to look at the prosperity and social conditions of Iceland, Norway and Ireland to see what this might augur for Wales. Those bloggers who talk of relics should understand what a relic the Union is, to see it in its true light, without the hype and panoply that surrounds it. It is a sham (see my posting on this in the archives).
    All those who aspire to a truly Welsh identity must see this unless blinded by their programmed response to the nature of the Union. The Union is unrepresentative of the nations which compose it. With independence will come justice and dignity as well as freedom from patriarchal rule.

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  29. Those bloggers who talk of relics should understand what a relic the Union is, to see it in its true light, without the hype and panoply that surrounds it.

    I already do thanks. ;-)

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  30. To put it succinctly :
    before devolution independence was a dream...
    after devolution independence was a distinct possibility!

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  31. I have always wanted independence for Wales, but voted NO in 1979 - because I thought that this was just a tactic to turn Wales into a super county of England - a bit like Yorkshre.

    In hindsight this was the wrong decision, and I am happy with the way that the Senedd is now developing. Yes it should flex its muscles more often, and force the pace - but every step is in the right direction, and opinion polls show that the public are swing strongly in favour of more powers. This would not have happened in 1979 - our day will come eventually - we just have to be patient.

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  32. Who in the 1980s was predicting the end of the Soviet Empire and the emergence of the newly independent countries of Eastern Europe.

    Is the European Union going to survive an economic or military crisis - very doubtful given its undemocratic and bureaucratic nature.

    History will be full of surprises and that is why Plaid is wrong to tie itself so closely to the present consensus. Plaid was formed to win Independence and that should remain its primary aim.

    Welsh sovereignity should rest with the Welsh people and that should not include foreign ie English students, second home owners and people who have come to Wales to die. If Germany can restrict the vote to citizens, even excluding German born children of guest workers (which I think is a disgrace of course) then surely the future of Wales should be in the hands of those who live and work and have a future here. The Devolution vote was nearly lost because of the votes of these here today gone tomorrow people.

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  33. An interesting post as ever - i can't help thinking that we all keep giving Alan the oxygen of publicity by referring to his madcap antics, mind. If I was a more rational nationalist like yourself, I'd be keen to see the back of him - he's a gift to your enemies.

    As someone who believes in devolution and believes that it makes the Union stronger, I guess I partly validate your theory in reverse.

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  34. Again Republicanos and I agree to differ. The difference is that I do not talk of his 'madcap antics', possibly because I am a gentleman like most fellow Plaid supporters.
    He believes devolution makes the Union stronger and thus falls into the Labour delusion, whereas I see that it is a means whereby we may proceed along the rocky road to independence. Devolution will deliver a Welsh Parliament and then one short step will give us independence and the fulfillment of Plaid's objectives. The Union will then cease to have any relevance for Scotland and Wales.

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  35. Nonny said....

    "Welsh sovereignity should rest with the Welsh people and that should not include foreign ie English students, second home owners and people who have come to Wales to die."

    johnny says....

    What an enlightening posting this has turned out to be.

    Am I to presume that English people, such as Alan, who have chosen to come to Wales to die, are to be excluded from this 'sovereignty'?

    Does he get special dispensation for his Plaid blog?

    How's about if they claim allegiance to Wales, in the same way as Alan, will that qualify them to be part of this Welsh sovereignty?

    Does this exclusion also involve Welsh folk who own second homes?

    Just thinking.

    Your patriotic pal.

    johnny.

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  36. johnny said

    "Am I to presume that English people, such as Alan, who have chosen to come to Wales to die, are to be excluded from this 'sovereignty'?"

    See Johnny your coming around to the idea already.

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  37. To JF :
    First Mr Wealas (Welsh) which happens to be the Saxon word for "Foreigner",
    Wales is the land of my fathers.
    Saunders Lewis was born in Chester I believe.


    Then, thanks Alwyn for the publicity, which has resulted in boosting considerably the sales of my blog.
    Devolution hasn't worked very well for its unionist advocates, has it?
    Promoters of devolution were not, as you say, deluded in believing in the principle of devolution, but they did not anticipate the effects of their decisions.
    The effect is, as I say, the new respectability of devolution as a process leading inevitably to eventual independence, with a Welsh Parliament as a major stepping stone on the way.
    I have my own ideas and agenda and would not subscribe to something I did not believe in absolutely, but I do not see that Plaid is wrong in the course it is taking. This course does not assist in strengthening the Union, in my view - rather, it helps in the Union's demise. You do not appear to think that Plaid's primary motive is independence - I suggest you reconsider. After independence Plaid's objective will have been achieved. You may be right in saying its raison d'etre would be no longer required. Then is the time to consider your voting options (Conservative I presume?).
    Finally, Plaid has never promoted unionist regionalism. If so, I personally would not be associated with Plaid.

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  38. Alan
    "To put it succinctly :
    before devolution independence was a dream... after devolution independence was a distinct possibility!"

    Where's your evidence to justify that statement? Polls show public support for independence has actually fallen by 2 percentage points to 12% since devolution. As usual, you totally fail to back your arguments up with evidence.

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  39. I keep my ear to the ground... that's why.

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  40. No, you keep your head buried in the ground - there's a difference.

    You're perfectly entitled to believe what you want to believe - but I'm perfectly entitled to point out the gaping evidential holes in your polemic.

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  41. My polemic is quite intact thank you.
    No gaping holes which you can fill, that's for sure!

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