The Silk Road


During the next two years, there will be a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country.

The outcome of that referendum will either lead to a continuation of the United Kingdom with the possibility of further constitutional change in future, or to an independent Scotland and, presumably, a successor state made up of the remaining three UK nations – England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scotland’s decision is a matter for the people of Scotland, but it is one which must be made in full knowledge of the outcome’s consequences.

The recently published Electoral Commission guidance advises that “the UK and Scottish Governments should clarify what process will follow the referendum, for either outcome, so that people have that information before they vote.”

It is only common sense that discussions are held in advance of the referendum so that everybody has a better understanding of what will happen in the event of either a Yes or No vote in Scotland.

Given the importance placed upon the Electoral Commission’s guidance by the ‘No’ campaign prior to their publication, it is unthinkable that these pre-referendum talks will not take place. They will presumably take place between the Scottish and UK Governments.

This creates a problem for Wales.

We are a nation. We have our own Senedd and Welsh Government. We have substantial powers over health, education, rural affairs, transport, our language and in many other fields – although we remain deficient in others such as crime and justice, energy and the media, and being accountable for the money spent on our behalf.

Yet, in all likelihood, we will be shut out of discussions about how a post-referendum successor state will look.

How, then, will all of this affect Wales.

The first thing is that we cannot wait until the day after the referendum to decide how a UK sans Scotland will look.

Understandably there is growing concern at all levels about the political impact.

Without Scottish representation in the House of Commons there is the likelihood of a permanent Conservative government in London.

Wales has not voted for a Conservative government since the introduction of the universal electoral franchise.

People have have consistently opposed the privatisation of our health services, our education and our prisons as well as the cuts to our social security.

Wales therefore needs protection from the worst effects of a Conservative-led rump UK who have done little more than damage for us in the past.

Although I am the leader of a nationalist party who believe that Wales should be an independent country, I recognise that this will not come about as an immediate effect of a Yes vote in Scotland.

The independence movement in Wales must earn the right to put that question to the people of Wales as the independence movement in Scotland has done.

That is something which will take place in the fullness of time with our aspiration to be an independent country.

In the meantime, it is incumbent we take greater control of our own affairs so that we can better influence and improve our economy with the aim of raising the standard of living of our people.

Devolution, of course, is a process, not an event, and once again Welsh devolution is developing its own course.

As I write, the Commission for Devolution in Wales, more popularly known as the Silk Commision, is collecting evidence for its second report.

The Commission is covering similar territory to the Calman Commission, and it has already published a report recommending greater financial powers for Wales at the end of last year.

The second report, covering non-financial aspects such as crime and justice, energy and so forth is due for publication in Spring next year, ahead of the Scotland referendum.

Silk part one has already set in place a timetable for the introduction of job-creating financial powers for Wales which will incentivise the Welsh Government to improve the economy.

However, Silk was set up on the presumption of the status quo in Scotland. That timetable must be revised in the event of a Scotland Yes vote, given that there will have been such a big change in political dynamics.

In short, the UK Government must open up pre-referendum talks with the Scottish Government in order to agree what will happen after the referendum, whichever outcome is successful.

Plaid Cymru also wants to see the UK Government engaging in discussions with the people and political parties in Wales and Northern Ireland about what will happen if Scotland votes Yes.

We in Wales are not just watchers but participants in our own constitutional future. We cannot have our future dictated by the UK Government. A full, frank, and, most importantly, two-way conversation must be held about how we can all work together for our mutual benefit and the best way of achieving this.

Westminster Governments of various hues over the years have refused to accept the increasing likelihood of the break-up of the United Kingdom. Desperate to cling on to a political system that has long reached its use-by date. The unionist parties should have learnt by now that ignoring the issue will not make it or us go away.

Comments (11)

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  1. Peter A Bell says:

    For increasing numbers of us, the “further constitutional change” that Leanne Wood suggests as the alternative to independence has a distinctly ominous tone. That change need not be positive. And, given the attitude to Scotland displayed by the British parties, we would be well-advised to assume that whatever constitutional change they have in mind it is all but certainly going to be far from advantageous to our country.

  2. muttley79 says:

    Given that the No campaign have said that there will be no devolution plan before the referendum, it looks like a repeat of 1979 again in terms of Jam Tomorrow ‘promises’ from the unionists. As we were shown yesterday that the UK government’s official view of Scotland as not being an equal partner of the union (as we were led to believe by the media and unionists), in fact it being closer to the idea of being part of a greater England, the idea of further devolved powers in the event of a No vote is becoming more and more remote.

    This really is shaping up to be a crunch moment in Scottish politics and history. Either we vote Yes to independence and statehood, giving our parliament at Holyrood all the powers of a normal nation, or we chose almost certain privatisation of public services, more austerity, an increasing likelihood of withdrawing from the EU, with all the international isolationism that would bring, and a very vague promise of more powers for the Scottish Parliament?

  3. bigedd74 says:

    Can someone send Leanne the link to stats showing that Scottish votes make NO tangible difference to the outcome of any UK Election please, All too often people refer to this, and while I have the deepest sympathy with the English Electorate in general, they kind of have themselves to blame, likewise the armchair critics north of the border, who sit and curse the political make up of the country, but didn’t use their vote to at least try to make a difference, and resting on the assumption it wouldn’t have mattered.

    Despite the assertions of the likes of Anus Sarwar, we do live in a democracy, and the people of the country decide who run it, if only they got off there arses and voted, things might be different, but……

    Anyway, my original point is that we don’t have a genuine effect on the voting results for Wastemonster, and i for one won’t be made to feel guilty for something not in my control

  4. keef22 says:

    Leanne, more power to you but if Scotland should vote no in the referendum, it will be the end of Scotland as we will have agreed to be a fully colonised region of England. I’m very much afraid to say Wales will be next. Any talk of an independent Wales will be ruthlessly crushed. Let’s hope then the people of Scotland realise this is the last throw of the dice in terms of being a free nation. In doing so it will keep the hopes of our Welsh cousins alive.

    1. Andrew says:

      A fully colonised region of England???? That’s totally hyperbolic nonsense, that sort of talk does absolutely nothing to help the cause, it just makes us look daft.

      1. Ray Bell says:

        We are colonised, we’re just not allowed to refer to it by that name. Same as the Basques and Flemish are colonised, or the Czechs and Greeks were.

  5. vronsky says:

    What a lifeless piece of prose. But good luck, anyway, I hope you intend well for your country but you’ll need to chop a couple of chillis into the sauce, I think.

    Apologies, I’m cutting and pasting, because this particlular antidote to fashionable ignorance is so often necessary that I keep it to hand.

    start paste—-
    Scottish votes have little or no bearing on UK elections. Here are the results for the past few general elections. The first column (UK) is the result, the second column (rUK) is the result if all Scottish seats are removed. The figure in brackets is the overall majority gained. You will see that in no case would the government have been changed, though in a couple of instances an overall majority would have been lost or gained. England gets the party it votes for and will continue to do so after Scottish independence.

    Year UK rUK
    1966 Lab (96) Lab (4)
    1970 Con (15) Con (40)
    1974a Lab (no overall maj) Lab (no overall maj)
    1974b Lab (4) Lab (no overall maj)
    1979 Con (44) Con (71)
    1987 Con (101) Con (153)
    1992 Con (21) Con (71)
    1997 Lab (177) Lab (137)
    2001 Lab (166) Lab (127)
    2005 Lab (66) Lab (43)
    2010 Con (no overall maj) Con (20)

    ——–end paste

    Anyway, if the English want conservative government (which they always do, although it is occasionally called ‘New Labour’) then that is none of our business in Scotland or yours in Wales. Shake your head and walk away.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You’re a ray of light

      1. vronsky says:

        Oops, off message. Sorry.

  6. Indion says:

    Beyond the Belfast and Edinburgh Agreements:

    Post Scotland’s independence, suggest the British-Irish Council (aka Council of the Isles) should be the plenipotentiary negotiating body of the emergent intergovernmental British/British-Irish/Brirish Union through which aspects affecting the totality of the relationships between people of all our family of nations in the British Isles can be resolved in their mutual best interests.
    IE our own BU as a confederal association served by the extant secretariat – but never EU like commission – perhaps drawing on the experience of directly elected elder statesmen/women as public exemplars and guiding guardians.
    No, it’s not getting ahead of ourselves to suggest the direction of travel before we end up going round in circles at some stage.

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