There has been an interesting response to my previous post. A number of respondents take issue with my claim that devolution is designed to slow down or stop the nationalist movement. They claim that devolution is a process that will inevitably lead to independence. I am deluded for believing that campaigning for devolution harms the campaign for independence; Plaid, on the other hand is pragmatic in following a route of ever enhancing devolution.
There is no doubt, whatsoever that devolution is an ideology invented by unionists, proposed by unionists and delivered by unionists. The idea that people committed to the union; Ron Davies, Leighton Andrews, Rhodri Morgan, Peter Hain and thousands of other devolution supporters; are deluded fools who were duped into supporting independence without realising it is totally ludicrous. These people support devolution because they believe that devolution will preserve and strengthen the union.
Of course Plaid could be right. It is certainly within the bounds of possibility that as devolution progresses people might see the Government of Wales as increasingly more relevant to their lives and the Westminster government increasingly less relevant. In time we might evolve to a situation where the people of Wales think that Westminster is so irrelevant that we may as well cut that level of government out altogether.
Where I think that Plaid is terribly mistaken is in its decision to campaign for this evolutionary model. Because such a campaign is counter-productive rather than pragmatic.
Firstly. Unionists are not going to support further devolution if they believe that it will lead to independence. If Plaid supporters claim, as they do, that granting "Scottish type powers" to the Assembly is the next step on the road to independence then they will ensure that the current unionist majority in Wales will vote against any such proposal in parliament and in a referendum.
Secondly. Whereas Plaid is correct in saying that devolution is often offered in response to nationalist grievances, when this happens it is always as a compromise. The less that is initially agitated for, the lower the compromise will be. By campaigning for less than full independence Plaid is in danger of lowering the compromise threshold, thus slowing down the evolution of devolution.
Thirdly. If independence will come about through the evolution of devolution then Plaid is actually defunct as a party. The Liberal Democrats support a fully Federal Britain; enhanced devolution is Labour Party policy and is supported by many Conservatives. So if independence is the inevitable consequence of devolution one is still supporting the cause of independence by supporting one of these devolutionary parties - there is no need to support Plaid. Which brings me back to my question Why shouldn't I, as a right wing nationalist, vote Conservative rather than Plaid? (And it was a question, incidentally, not a statement of intent).
Saying these things isn't slagging Plaid off for the hell of it, incidentally. I believe that Plaid has an important role in Welsh politics, the role of promoting the nationalist cause. I think that it is a matter of sadness that Plaid hasn't fulfilled this role over the past 18 years because it has been sidelined by the devolution debate into promoting unionist regionalism. A nationalist party should have independence as its primary goal, not as a long-term aspiration. If independence is Plaid's long term aspiration then its short and medium term aspirations MUST be in the union. I may well vote Plaid and support Plaid in future elections but until it makes independence its primary goal I will also continue to criticise the party.