2007 - 2022

Hands Off Devolution: an Open Letter to Theresa May

Bella Caledonia, in partnership with Wales Arts Review, publishes an open letter in defence of the devolved democracies of Wales and Scotland. Jointly composed by writers Ben Gwalchmai and Patrick McGuinness, the non-partisan #DefendDevolution letter calls on Prime Minister Theresa May, David Lidington MP, and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns MP and Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell to change the course of plans to take back devolved powers from Cardiff Bay and Holyrood. This is an open, live letter, and we are accepting new signatures from artists throughout the week. To add your name, leave a comment or email us.

Dear Theresa May, David Lidington, and Alun Cairns, David Mundell

We, the artists and artistic platforms of Wales and Scotland, write today to address your actions and urge you to change course.

In your negotiations with the Welsh and Scottish governments, instead of reaching agreement by consensus you have chosen to ignore them. We can see from the leaked memo of Chloe Smith MP to David Lindington as revealed by BBC Scotland, that your government’s intention has been made clear. You will claim for yourselves 24 areas of governmental control that are currently the remit of the Welsh & Scottish Governments. You will do so without agreement or legal basis. You will steal from Wales & Scotland. This was never part of ‘taking back control’ – this is you taking control over us in ways that directly contravene the principles of devolution, and go against your own promises.

Our First Ministers and opposition leaders have called this a ‘power grab’. They’re right, but that doesn’t go far enough: this is a betrayal. A betrayal of the democratic votes taken for devolution and of the peoples of the devolved nations. It is a betrayal of democracy.

This action by your government is not an isolated incident. Since the last election, you have broken many promises to Wales. When you said the railways would be electrified West of Cardiff, Theresa May personally cancelled it. When you promised a decision on the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, you have not made a decision. When the Welsh Government worked to get rid of the tolls on the Severn Crossing bridges, you claimed it as your own success. The current Conservatives have broken many vows to Scotland – where you have apparently forgotten, we remember The Vow.

These are a just a few examples of a process of connected depredations that stem from an unbalanced system in which Wales and Scotland come last, and where both countries are sacrificed to the unity of a Conservative party that we didn’t vote for and which rules the UK by the skin of its teeth. You think you are papering over the crisis of democratic legitimacy, but you are making that crisis all the more evident.

We urge you to change direction and to respect the devolution settlements of Scotland and Wales.

Gary Raymond, Editor, Wales Arts Review
Mike Small, Editor, Bella Caledonia

Sophie McKeand
Menna Elfyn
Jane Oriel
Niall Griffiths
Professor Owen Sheers
Sara Beer
Mike Jenkins
Richard Davies
Jafar Iqbal
Glyn Edwards
Alys Conran
Rufus Mufasa
Jamey Pearce
Sion Tomos Owen
Angharad Price
Gary Owen
Peter Stead
Nicky Arscott
Emma Schofield
Kate North
Peter Lord
Lucy Rivers
Nia Edwards-Behi
Carolyn Hitt
Jasper Rees
Clare E. Potter
Gary Raymond
Ben Gwalchmai
Patrick McGuinness
Alan Bissett
Peter Arnott
Mairi McFadyen
Jim Sutherland
Alec Finlay
George Gunn
Stewart Bremner
Alan Summers
Ted Clarke
John Harrison
Laura Wainwright
Mari Ellis Dunning
Carys Eleri Evans
John Lavin
Tom Bevan
Geoff Cripps
Matt Williams
Steph Power
Laura Drane
Mair Craig
Dachlan Cartwright
Fflur Arwel
Guy O’Donell
Rachel Trezise
Morag Williams
Mary McMaster
Stuart A. Paterson
Michael Matheson
Lisa Parry
Lisa Sheppard
Edward Ashton
Gwylon Phillips
Rhian Rhys
David Hedley Williams
Bridget Keehan
Rosie Johns
Catrin Davies
Bob Gelsthorpe
Lorna Withey
Elena Schmitz
Jeremy Turner
Richard Evans
Dai Barnaby
Gavin Porter
Adam Sutherland
Michael Matthew
Alan Price
Richard Baker
Dylan Wyn
Simon Jenkins
Gerallt Hughes
Lisa Lewis
Sharon Morgan
Joao Morais
Helen Burns
Tomos Owen
Arfon Jones
Huw Webber
Jessica George
Elin Morse
Eurig Salisbury
Fedor Tot
Ellis Hughes
Ronald Thain
Tanya Dower
Meirion Rees
Robert Hudson
Patrick Jones
Siriol McAvoy
Daniel Williams
Lizzie Fincham
Alan Jones
Anna Morafon
AL Kennedy
Carol Gilmour
Greag Mac a’ tSaoir
Simon Donald
Catherine Czerkawska



Comments (23)

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  1. James Brown says:

    You’re as well howling at the Moon for all the notice that mob will take.

  2. bringiton says:

    You might as well write a letter to a paedophile complaining about his treatment of children.
    Lies,deceit and obfuscation are the principles guiding the Westminster establishnent but in particular the Tories to whom this behaviour comes naturally.
    Others have to learn these things.

  3. Stuart Paterson says:

    Add my name please Mike, cheers

    Stuart A. Paterson, writer in Scots & English.

  4. Mary Macmaster says:

    Add my name too please
    Mary Macmaster, Musician

  5. Stuart Paterson says:

    You missed oot the middle A in ma signature name (so’s Ah’m no confused wi the playwright fellae!).

  6. Ann McGee says:

    Let us hope that this letter is read and acted on honourably by the Westminster government. Judged on their past policies and practice it seems unlikely, but i would like to add my name if possible.

  7. Adam Sutherland says:

    Add my name please. Adam Sutherland

  8. Derek Grierson says:

    Add my name, please. It’s time we called these twisted rogues out on their double dealings.

  9. Carol Gilmour says:

    Add my name please – fully paid up member of the Scottish Artists Union – might be worth sending on there too to give folks the opportunity to sign

    1. Thanks Carol – if you can share the link with the SAU that would be great

  10. Iain McIntosh says:

    “Bella Caledonia, in partnership with Wales Arts Review, publishes an open letter in defence of the devolved democracies of Wales and Scotland.”

    I question the wisdom of working with Wales, I think it a waste of time and conveys a message that Scotland can’t argue its own case with the uk.

    Wales has had any fight in securing freedom for its people beaten out of it by both labour and tories, Wales now accepts anything and questions very little.

    Remember these same Welsh policiticans you are suggesting we work with are the same politicans who were willing to stick the boot into Scotland in 2014.

    I am all for cultural relations with Wales, but I question the logic of working with the political leaders of Wales who are diminished, inefective and unionist to the core.

    Scotland must fight its own fight to gain its freedom, and not try and partner or trust others who were integral to better together in 2014 and have absolutley no interst in securing their own freedom!

    Friendship yes, parnership no!

    1. I don’t think you’ve read the letter, at least I hope you haven’t and written that comment …

      1. Iain McIntosh says:

        Looking at the broader view of Scottish independence, there is nothing to be gained from working with an organisation (Welsh labour), group (Welsh Assembly) or “their surrogates” on devolution, when those very same bodies will stab you in the back in the flick of an eye when our main goal of Scottish independence comes back into focus later this year.

        Those rushing to sign up, should remember that Welsh labour, the government in Wales are run by exactly the same people as run labour in Scotland, i.e. labour party HQ in London.

        Furthermore, has it not dawned on people here that Wales voted to leave the EU, the Welsh are brexiters! We are being told on here that working with those in Wales who do not represent the people who voted for them on the most critical policy in a generation, is a good thing?

        The Welsh voted for brexit, let them have it, that’s democracy! Its patronising and condescending to think we should help rescue those who voted for brexit from themselves whist we ourselves would be offended if others believed we should be saved from ourselves over our pro EU remain view of World!

        In sum you are asking Scots to endorse a group whose two faced political paymasters will stab Scotland in the back while riding on our coat tails on a policy that the two nations fundamentally disagree.

        Carwyn Jones:

        “the first minister of Wales, has warned that the Welsh government would probably try to block plans by Alex Salmond for a new sterling currency union if Scotland voted for independence.”

        “I would be uncomfortable being part of a currency union where there are competing governments trying to run it. If there is a disagreement, who has the final say? This is a recipe for instability – and these things matter, particularly in times of crisis,” he said.”

        “The Welsh first minister said he opposed independence, arguing that Scotland would be better protected by the pooled resources and shared interests of the UK”

        “he fears for Wales’ future if Scotland votes for independence. Scotland brought “balance” to the UK, and its population “seems a lot bigger” than Wales’ “because of the weight it carries in the UK”.”

        “most vulnerable people in society would pay the highest price for the inevitable instability post independence, particularly if Scotland, as Alex Salmond suggested, used sterling without a formal currency union. This would require the public sector being cut in half.”

        “he wanted to see a Constitutional Convention and that he wanted Wales to get the same offer as Scotland.”

        The strategy of the Welsh FM on Scotland is to throw Wales’ lot in with the union in project fear whilst trying to ride on the coat tails of Scotland to pick up any scraps Scots win on devolution. Living off scraps is what labour as reduced Wales to. If anyone wants to see labour rule in action, visit South Wales Valleys!

        Devolution is a quarter way house and is far from the prize. Wales will not gain Scottish independence for Scots, neither will the English, The Danes, Japanese, etc, this is something Scotland needs to do on its own for itself. Yes friends can and will help, e.g. Scottish diaspora, Ireland or Catalonia, but do not make the mistake of working with unionists on a stepping stone in furtherance of our cause!

        Let’s imagine regardless of the brexit negotiations on repatriation of powers there is another independence referendum 2019 or 2020, what position do you think the Welsh Government will take?

        Incidentally, I wonder who sponsors Wales Arts review, could it be the Welsh Government, Welsh Labour Party, governed from London?


        I don’t think you’ve read my comment, at least I hope you haven’t and written that comment …

        1. Th article doesn’t refer to any of the organisations or institutions you do. It’s a collaboration between Scottish and Welsh artists and writers and has nothing to do with any political party.

          1. Iain McIntosh says:

            “Th article doesn’t refer to any of the organisations or institutions you do. ”

            I have to call them something, what are they if they are not organisations or institutions? Groups or bodies?

            “It’s a collaboration between Scottish and Welsh artists and writers and has nothing to do with any political party.”


            I don’t think you’ve read my comment, at least I hope you haven’t and written that comment …

    2. Jo says:

      I think it’s a joint effort because Scotland and Wales are in the same boat Iain. HMG is trying to snatch powers from both. (Mind you, the MSM is ignoring the two countries working together on certain Brexit issues…
      .but that’s in order to proceed in its favoured manner – making out it’s just the SNP making a fuss about nowt again.)

      1. Iain McIntosh says:

        Jo, where are now with Wales – a dead end and partnering with a government who in the words of Plaid have betrayed the Welsh people!

  11. Greag Mac a' tSaoir says:

    Add my name please. This letter may go unheeded but we should all support the attempt to bring the Tories to account. Greag Mac a’ tSaoir, painter, Scotland

  12. Catherine Czerkawska says:

    Add my name please.

  13. Simon Donald says:

    Add my name please, Mike. Simon Donald

  14. Jim Wylie says:

    Add my name. Jim Wylie – artist

  15. Robert Carroll says:

    Add my name please

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