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
Professor Owen Sheers
Sion Tomos Owen
Clare E. Potter
Mari Ellis Dunning
Carys Eleri Evans
Stuart A. Paterson
David Hedley Williams
Greag Mac a’ tSaoir