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INVALIDITY OF THE CASE AGAINST “INDEPENDENCE” FOR WALES

Gan Gwyn Hopkins

Independence is the accepted legal term for the political status of countries that are members of the UN, be they large like India and the USA or small like Norway, Luxembourg and Singapore.

It is regrettable that the issue of Independence for Wales invariably produces irrational, distorted and sometimes dishonest reactions from the “establishment”, i.e.; the pro-Unionist politicians and the pro-Unionist media.  These include claims that Wales is too small to be independent, Wales cannot afford to be independent (implying that Wales is subsidised by England), the people of Wales don’t want independence, etc.  These claims are often accompanied by branding independence for Wales as “separatism”, a deliberately chosen scaremongering and objectionable sounding description.  The fact that they never describe the independence of other countries as separatism gives the game away.  The real separatists are the euro-sceptics, particularly the euro-sceptic MPs (mostly Tories) who want the UK to withdraw from the European Union.

WALES IS TOO SMALL AND/OR CANNOT AFFORD TO BE INDEPENDENT.

Response 1 – Ample Precedence.

Politicians and the media very often resort to quoting precedence to support arguments; but never when discussing Independence for Wales.  It is, of course, perfectly valid to compare Wales with other similar size countries that are already independent.  Comparison with independent countries with populations up to twice the size of Wales (population 3 million) seems appropriate and reasonable.  These are listed with populations at the end of this discourse.  The list shows that no fewer than 88 of the 192 independent countries in the United Nations are similar in size to Wales (46%), with 60 having smaller populations (31%).   Of these, the 11 that are members of the 27-member European Union are underlined (6 are smaller than Wales).  The list shows that 35 of the 88 countries are members of the 53-member British Commonwealth and are shown in italics and bold print (32 of these are smaller than Wales – 60%).

Thus, unless one subscribes to the jaundiced, disparaging and basically insulting view that the people of Wales are – uniquely – not competent to manage their own affairs, these 88 countries provide conclusive evidence that the argument that Wales is too small and/or cannot afford independence is complete nonsense – not even remotely plausible. In fact many small countries in the world are independent and managing very well (particularly the European ones).  Not a single country that has campaigned for and/or fought for independence during the last century or earlier considered its size or prosperity (present or future) to be relevant criteria in its quest for independence.  In each case the compelling motivation was patriotism, national self-respect, the assertion and promotion of their status as a nation and a determination to escape the dominant and exploitive clutches of their imperialist rulers.  No country that has gained independence has ever concluded that it was a mistake to become independent because they were too small or couldn’t afford it or for any other reason.  None have considered reverting to a previous colonial or dependent status nor being party to re-establishing an earlier imperial state in which they were a small part, totally dominated, stifled and often downtrodden by the largest country of such a state be it Russia, Serbia or England.

Response 2 – Viability.

In considering Wales’ viability after independence it is essential to take into account all resources now traversing Offa’s Dyke in both directions (not just money, which is essentially a proxy for resources) and what effect independence would have on these resources.  In particular, it is essential to identify what Wales contributes to now but wouldn’t do so after independence.

Currently flowing out from Wales to England/UK Treasury (the list is not exhaustive):

Income Tax

Value Added Tax

Corporation Tax (Company Tax)

Vehicle Tax

Fuel Tax (60% of pump prices for petrol and diesel)

National Insurance contributions

Enormous quantities of water daily (all current water contracts imposed on Wales, that are absolutely outrageously favourable to England, would need to be renegotiated on a “market rate” basis on independence)

Half the energy produced in Wales (this would produce substantial income after independence)

The five tax items, National Insurance and the finance earned from the other two items would, of course, be paid into the Wales Treasury after independence.

From the UK Treasury to Wales:

Barnett Block Grant paid to the National Assembly for Wales

Social Benefits

At present Wales’ tax payments contribute substantially to the cost of the UK armed forces, that includes the huge costs of the Army, the Navy, the RAF, Trident submarines and missiles, Cruise missiles, Aircraft carriers, etc.  An independent Wales is very unlikely to indulge in any of these extravagances other than maintaining a small army for internal security.  In addition, none of Wales’ young men and women would lose their lives in reckless overseas military adventures.  This is arguably the biggest advantage of Independence for Wales.

THE PEOPLE OF WALES DON’T WANT INDEPENDENCE.

This is exactly what one would expect given that the people of Wales are – and have been for very many years – conditioned by a media diet dominated by pro-Unionist, England based TV and radio channels and the pro-Unionist, England-oriented daily newspapers.  To this one must add the vociferous opposition of the pro-Unionist establishment over the centuries – including, and especially, the fervently pro-Unionist Monarchy.  Furthermore, the imposition of our essentially pro-Unionist educational system (in 1870) designed for the children of England – not Wales – that not only banned our indigenous language, Welsh, but virtually concealed Welsh History from us, has also played a major part in the conditioning of the people of Wales.  In view of this almost total monopoly of intense and relentless pro-Unionist indoctrination, it is amazing that a significant minority (some 10%) of the people of Wales now favour independence.  Fifty years ago it is doubtful whether 10% of the people of Wales favoured any form of self-government whatever.  By now there is a substantial majority in favour of further devolution so it’s pretty obvious which way the wind is blowing.  Moreover, if the above-mentioned pro-Unionist agencies had been pro-Independence instead, the conditioning would then undoubtedly have resulted in the people of Wales demanding and achieving Independence for their country long ago.

The point I make is that the vast majority of the people of Wales are pro-Unionist almost entirely because the intense political conditioning they have been subjected to on a daily basis for centuries has been virtually exclusively pro-Unionist – with almost no exposure to any contrary pro-Independence arguments.  A major effect of this indoctrination is very clearly demonstrated at local council elections.  The British political “Labour v Tory” mentality found at Westminster is so deeply ingrained that many of Wales’ electors use the current popularity of the major UK parties at Westminster as their criterion for voting at council elections.  Put crudely this means “if Labour is in power and unpopular at Westminster vote for the Lib-Dems, Plaid or for an Independent candidate – or stay at home”, whereas “if the Tories are in power and unpopular vote Labour”.  Of course, this criterion is totally unrelated to the recent performance of local councillors and the local council which are obviously the sort of considerations which should form the basis of how electors vote at local elections.  The same is true of National Assembly elections.

THE EFFECTS OF ENGLAND’S OVERWHELMING POLITICAL DOMINATION OF WALES.

Because of England’s huge population compared to the rest of the UK, the House of Commons is completely dominated by MPs representing English constituencies (English MPs).  At present 533 of the 650 Members are English MPs (82%).  In 2015 when the constituency boundary changes are implemented (significantly improving the Tories’ General Election prospects) there will be 600 MPs of which 502 will be English (84%).  These figures represent an absolutely massive dominance of parliament by English MPs that will rise to 92% in the remaining rump United Kingdom of Southern Britain and Northern Ireland if Scotland gains independence (with a Tory majority likely at every General Election thereafter – without Scottish MPs the Tories would currently have a majority with 306 of the remaining 591 MPs).  Moreover, this dominance is even greater in the current ruling coalition parties (Tory and Lib-Dem) at Westminster.  They have 363 MPs between them with 340 representing English constituencies (96%) and are led by two millionaire, public school and Oxford educated, English toffs (Cameron and Clegg).  It is very difficult to imagine any individuals less suitable to play such a key role in the governance of Wales.  In addition there are 23 Cabinet Members (nearly all millionaires or multi-millionaires), of which 21 are MPs – 19 being English MPs (90%) but with none from Welsh constituencies.

It doesn’t much matter whether England’s huge hegemony in the House of Commons is 82%, 84% or 92% for they all represent an overwhelming dominance and controlling interest of the House by English MPs.  This grossly lopsided situation is certain to mean that, in any UK state, the interests and well-being of England – as in the past – will always be paramount at Westminster.  This means that English MPs will always have the last word on all matters concerning Wales (and Scotland and Northern Ireland) with the people of Wales and their MPs not being able to do anything whatever about it. Moreover, they will certainly invoke this decisive control when dealing with contentious matters that directly affect England (remember Tryweryn!).  England’s “upper hand” on Welsh affairs undoubtedly perpetuates the current vulnerable, very disadvantaged, “bottom of the pile” and essentially subordinate status of Wales compared to England.  It is a situation in which the Welsh Nation’s identity and Wales’ development to a fully-fledged nation is seriously undermined and impeded – and permanently so while the UK exists.

List of the 88 independent UN member countries of similar size to Wales (2010 /2011 populations given).

Tuvalu (10,000),  Nauru (10,000),  Palau (21,000),  San Marino (32,000),  Monaco (36,000),

Liechtenstein (36,000),  St Kitts & Nevis (52,000),  Marshall Islands (54,000),  Dominica (71,000),

Andorra (78,000),  Antigua & Barbuda (86,000),  Seychelles (91,000),  Kiribati (101,000),

St Vincent (101,000),  Tonga (103,000),  Micronesia (103,000),  Grenada (111,000),  St Lucia (167,000),

Sao Tome & Principe (169,000),  Samoa (186,000),  Vanuatu (234,000),  Barbados (274,000),

Belize (313,000),  Maldives (317,000),  Iceland (320,000),  Bahamas (354,000),  Malta (418,000),

Brunei Darussalam (423,000),  Cape Verde (492,000),  Luxembourg (512,000),  Suriname (529,000),  Solomon Islands (554,000),  Montenegro (620,000),  Comoros (669,000),  Equatorial Guinea (720,000),  Guyana (785,000),  Bhutan (721,000),  Djibouti (818,000),  Cyprus (839,000),  Fiji (868,000),

Timor-Leste {East Timor} (1.1million),  Bahrain (1.2m),  Swaziland (1.2m),  Mauritius (1.2m),

Trinidad & Tobago (1.3m),  Estonia (1.3m),  Guinea Bissau (1.5m), Gabon (1.5m),

Qatar (1.7m),  Gambia (1.8m),  Botswana (2.0m),  Slovenia (2.0m),  Macedonia (2.0m),  Latvia (2.0m),

Lesotho (2.2m),  Namibia (2.3m),  Mongolia (2.7m), Jamaica (2,7m),  Oman (2.8m),  Albania (2.8m),

Lithuania (3.2m),  Uruguay (3.3m),  Armenia (3.3m),  Mauritania (3.4m),  Panama (3.4m),  Kuwait (3.6m),

Moldova (3.6m),  Bosnia & Herzegovina (3.8m),  Liberia (4.0m),  Republic of Congo (4.1m), Costa Rica (4.3m),  Lebanon (4.3m),  Croatia (4.3m),  New Zealand (4.4m),  Central African Republic (4.5m),

Georgia (4.5m),  Republic of Ireland (4.6m),  Norway (5.0m),  Turkmenistan (5.1m),  Singapore (5.2m),  Eritrea (5.4m),  Finland (5.4m),  Slovakia (5.4m), Kyrgyzstan (5.5m),  Denmark (5.6m),  Lybia (5.7m), Nicaragua (5.8m),  Sierra Leone (6.0m)

gan Gwyn Hopkins

2 thoughts on “INVALIDITY OF THE CASE AGAINST “INDEPENDENCE” FOR WALES”

  1. In my heart i pray for independance. As time has gone by it is cofio cymru not cofio tryweryn as the nation lies under the umbrella of anglo spiel the nation’s young have no identity :(

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