More on independence and devolution

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.


  1. Without a shadow of a doubt you are correct; devolution was designed to strengthen the union.

    Hasn't worked very well though, has it?

  2. First, thanks Alwyn for the publicity, which has resulted in boosting considerably the sales of my blog. Your post is interesting and well argued though I have to comment on its content.
    The previous commenter is right - it hasn't worked very well, 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.

  3. you are correct in you assessment of Plaid Cymru, they will be defunct as a party a lot sooner than you think, thanks to the sell out of the Labour coalition in Cardiff Bay, i know many left wingers as well as people like yourself on the right who will not be voting Plaid Cymru again.

    As you have said you hold right of centre views which means that your natural home in Wales at least is the Conservatives, so why not vote for them Nick Bourne he has been the best party leader in the Assembly since it was set up in 1999.

  4. Obviously a very biased Conservative here. My advice is not to vote Conservative until AFTER Independence!!

  5. you are correct in you assessment of Plaid Cymru, they will be defunct as a party a lot sooner than you think

    Ah, the sweet sound of a deluded Labourite ;-)

  6. toque is right - what is intended and what happens ain't always the same. I'd have to say it's stretching things to say that devolution has strengthened the Union. It hasn't exactly ripped it apart, granted, but, on balance I'd say it's loosened the Union.

    Your question was, "Why shouldn't I, as a right wing nationalist, vote Conservative rather than Plaid?"

    'Cause you claim to be a WELSH nationalist. Can you say that about the Conservatives? The evolution of devolution to which you refer still requires the British parties, or at least one of them, to commit to the final step, and none of them are doing it at the moment

    Anon 10.49 = So both the right and the left are going to abandon Plaid. People who think of themselves as right or left are fewer now than in living memory and most people don't fit into such convenient pigeon holes.

  7. I think you make a perfectly legitimate point that Plaid have a task to define their political direction in a devolutionary period (as do other parties I acknowledge), but the challenge is mnore acute for Plaid as there different factions who will no doubt wish to pull in different directions given evolving degrees of power. Taking up seats in government may pacify short term tensions, and require some internal discipline, but the issues will need to be resolved longer term.

  8. You should vote for Plaid Cymru because it is the only mainstream party whose first loyalty is to Wales. All the other parties are essentially English parties and when the chips are down will defend the interests of England before those of Wales.

    This is why I vote Plaid Cymru anyway, although a good deal of the politically correct drivel is a bit hard to swallow.

  9. Gareth Toque (as always) makes a valid point; although devolution was designed to strengthen the union it has failed in that design.

    As Gareth would be the first to point out one of the reasons for this failure was the decision to leave England out of the devolution settlement. Another reason for the failure was that Scotland was given half a loaf and Wales was given crumbs (more than was given to England, but crumbs none the less).

    So what should a nationalist do? Try to fix devolution and make this strengthening of the union policy work? Or campaign for something better- Independence for England and for Wales?

  10. I dont normally like leaving links to other sites, but in this case I have made a suggestion on the IW blog which seems fitting as a response...


  11. If it doesn't work and has no validity don't fix it.
    Yes Alwyyn, the way forward is independence for England and for Wales.