Despite the platitudes and back slapping from the pro Union Westminster based politicians in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum, in their heart of hearts they must be aware of a number of important developments that no amount of spin can conceal. Firstly, they got away with it by the skin of their teeth and despite the wall of ‘No’ focused negativity and sentimental hogwash in the media (state owned and non state owned) some 45% of Scottish voters actually dared to chose to vote for independence.
Secondly it is a great deal easier to move from 45% to 51% than it is to go from a lower figure. Thirdly having got away with it this time, it will be much harder to get away with it next time around. Lastly, when Westminster fails to rapidly deliver the weighty but hastily promises made to the Scots in the last few weeks of the campaign (in an effort to firm up the no vote) then that democratic 55% figure of those who voted no may well begin to crumble away rather rapidly.
The Union that existed before the 18th September is no more, it is history; all of us are now living in a very different state from the one we were living in before the vote. The dynamic has changed, and not just for Scotland but for the rest of the inhabitants of these isles, especially here in Wales. For too long, we have tolerated a second rate devolutionary settlement, one that has made if difficult to deliver real change and significant economic and infrastructure improvements for our people.
The combination of an increasingly inert Labour in Wales governmental party, who don’t want the tools to do the job, but merely to occupy the seat of power to prevent anyone else doing anything with it, was barely acceptable during the age of devolution. The problem is that we are no longer living in the age of devolution; devolution as was is old hat, as we are living in the age of transition, an age of self-government.
I am not unionist, I never have been, I probably read enough history and seen enough to understand that the much vaunted Union is not delivering for increasing numbers of people across these isles. It meant (and means) different things to different people in different places, for one thing Wales, is not a region of England, we are one of number of nations and peoples within these islands.
Wales (and the our people) need parity with the Scots (and Scotland) otherwise we will continue to be treated as a second rate nation and lack the tools to do the economic jobs that need doing. The old cosy status quo is gone; the UK has changed for good. It’s time for Wales to stop continually having to play catch up.
The Wales Bill needs to be radically written, to take account of the many promises that have been made to Scotland. It is important that Wales is not side-lined from the hopefully soon to start process of transferring power Scotland will be offered new powers and that a fast-tracked timetable for introducing the necessary legislation has been unveiled.
Any new Scotland Bill will pass through the Westminster Parliament pretty much side by side with the current Wales Bill. It would be entirely unacceptable for MPs to vote through substantial powers for Scotland while voting through an inadequate second-rate bill for Wales. The sluggish, piecemeal, incremental changes that have trickled down to Wales, as and when Westminster felt something was necessary have produced an unsatisfactory outcome for our nation and our people.