A thought paper, part 1 – As we crawl our way towards independence for all, the independence to meet family, to not stay indoors, to not wear a mask, to visit the pub lets consider that in a few months there will be elections in Wales. One of the questions becoming slightly louder in public is for the Welsh to decide if they desire independence from a union in place since the 1500’s, an act by King Henry VIII that gave the Welsh citizens a voice in London and granted the same rights as the English. Now 500 years later we are looking at a regaining of Welsh sovereign powers from the administration in London, but what indeed would that look like? I am sure that we all have a different view of what independence means or looks like, from a sovereign state with border fences a national military, and a Welsh monarchy to another extreme with a common purpose but autonomy in governance and funding. In 2021 Wales stands in a position of semi autonomy with self government, a Senedd in a capital city deciding on policy matters from health care to transportation to education and social welfare, to fisheries and agriculture and environment but importantly still funded primarily by the United Kingdom government and parliament.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A NATION OF 3 MILLION PEOPLE TO FUNCTION WELL?
“We don’t want to win independence just for independence’s sake, but for the sake of the thousands of families whose futures depend on Wales becoming a better, fairer, more equal nation.” The Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru)
To be honest about the subject, until the studies are completed about what independence means in reality, I cannot say if it’s a good or a bad idea for us people living in Wales. These questions remain and are as yet unanswered despite Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru and others saying they desperately want it, what could independence look like? What are the options, the choices for the people and notwithstanding the greater politics, what would be the benefits to the people of Wales of whatever nationality? I want to study these questions and more to see what type of independence is likely to be positive for all the people of Wales, or not.
- Has any country of 3 million inhabitants been successfully independent?
- What could independence look like?
- What would be the cost of independence?
- What would be the funding sources for different versions of independence?
- Which form of government would suit a country of 3 million?
- As a former monarchy is a monarchy still desired by the people of wales?
- What type of a written constitution and defined laws would be necessary?
One of the key issues is that of a cultural demand for a state free of the shackles of a UK government, being Welsh is a mindset, a culture, a feeling, one people in one country not overseen by London politicians or absent landlords. I will attempt to describe this cultural pressure for independence as I study the issues. This will help to answer questions 1 and 2 and possibly 6. But first lets take a look at finances.
Financial – Questions 3 and 4. Here I want to focus on sources of income and budgets. I do think however that dependent on the hue of the incumbent Welsh Senedd, finances would be dealt with differently, being raised and spent in either a socialist style or a capitalist style. As of today we have a Labour majority in the Senedd and two other almost equal parties, we might get a nationalist or a Conservative or possibly a coalition of the Independence minded Senedd when it comes to deciding on independence. The bargains made in politics may mean a coalition of the left who do seem to favour independence more so than the right and this will have a serious impact on finances, budgets and taxes, especially if money is no longer provided from London iaw the Barnett Formula. Today the Welsh budget has 3 sources of income as the 4th source dries up when the United Kingdom leaves all the European Union funding by 2023, even though the UK government agreed to fund Wales to the same extent, that is unlikely to continue for long and would clearly stop if an independent status was reached. Leaving just a single source from the list below plus borrowing and I would add investment, unless of course new sources were to be found by appeal to EU27, Qatar, Canada for example. An interesting point at which to pause, but before doing so the paper below highlights just how much Wales relies on funding from England and the EU, as an independent nation, that funding would have to be found from somewhere or social programs cut dramatically. Before getting ahead of ourselves though, the arrangements for an independent Wales could be very different. More to follow.
- money allocated by the UK Government
- money raised in Wales by means of taxation and other charges