Monday, 12 October 2020

Should we consider what happens after Wales votes YES?

 Wales Online has an excellent article today by Laura McAllister on here  two  steps Wales needs to first consider on the independence question. I have followed it with how I think the aftermath of a YES vote could play out as we should also plan of what happens when we vote YES.

 Laura writes

"So, thinking about the potential route maps to independence, I’d suggest there are two important preliminary steps before we get down to the detail.

The first must be to normalise independence. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, despite independent statehood being the most common form of political organisation. There are a host of nations in Europe that have disentangled themselves from others – from the Baltic nations leaving the Soviet Union, most of Ireland leaving the UK, Finland going its own way from Sweden and, in more recent times, Montenegro ending its union with Serbia.

Yet while independence is normal, and countries that achieve it almost never give it back, there are plenty of multinational states and a variety of federations too. The relationships between nations and statehood is not static or immutable. Normalising independence means normalising the concept that the UK itself is already multinational, but also that membership of it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

One of the difficulties is that we’ve absorbed an idea of exceptionalism in Wales, so much so that it’s become entrenched as part of our own self-image. We’re too poor to be independent, too small, too old, we have too powerful a neighbour.

But take Slovakia, a young, independent country by any standard and scarcely with a pedigree of economic might. Yet Slovakia is now the world’s largest producer of cars per capita and has a better record of handling Covid than Wales or the UK, as well as a positive relationship with the Czech state from which it peacefully divorced.

The indy movement will need to “untrain” us to cease believing our future constitutional options are so tightly constrained. I suspect people might be persuaded to take a leap of faith if they can be convinced that independence is not an end in itself but a means to a much better reality. An indy Wales has to be radically different to what we have now or why make the effort?

Of course, the independence debate has to be grounded in realities, harsh or otherwise. We can’t deny the UK’s tax deficit, some of which Wales would inherit without a radical change to taxation and spending either before independence or immediately afterwards, or our pensions liability. It’s conceivable that people might reach the point where they put economic concerns aside and say “let’s just go for it” but, as the Plaid commission soberly accepts, pre-independence deficits make it problematic to get to that point.

The second preliminary, therefore, must be to bind Welsh independence to a social and economic revolution, itself based on challenging globalisation, austerity, inequality and automation – all symbols of a flawed and failing capitalism.

Given the dreadful context of conflict and war that frames the emergence of some new nations (Eritrea, South Sudan, East Timor or Kosovo, for example), it seems rather trite to observe that existential crises create the best opportunities to fundamentally reassess political sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the Anglo-Saxon model of command and control that operates in these islands looks embarrassingly outdated, with its bloated and grasping centre jealously guarding its indivisible sovereignty. This, rightly, feels like an important moment.

Next, the indy debate needs to steer away from identity and an outdated juxtapositioning of Britishness versus Welshness. There has to be scope for both in an indy Wales. Interestingly, there’s been a recent swapping of ideological clothes. Independence campaigners were traditionally labelled the separatists, the isolationists – now it is the British Brexiteers who are the flag-wavers, chanting the language of drawbridges and barricades.

But parties of the left have been guilty of playing the identity card too, be it Stephen Kinnock or Keir Starmer. It’s obvious that gaining a majority to support an independent Wales will be contingent on winning over, not only the sizeable chunk of people who identify as both Welsh and British, but the 27% of our population who weren’t born here. Indy has to be an actively inclusive project, one where everyone feels they have a stake and a direct interest, whatever their personal identity or background. There must be a sense that this is a campaign about place and power – that we can all flourish under a different and better political structure.

To return for a moment to Plaid Cymru. Sure, independence is not about Adam Price exclusively, but Plaid has a unique and discrete role in all of this. The SNP knew that to get a referendum, there had to be a pro-indy Scottish government and the same was true in Catalonia. Quite probably – and given the specific conditions here in Wales – a pro-independence government would be forced to compromise with overtly unionist parties, maybe by including other constitutional options in a wider debate.

Likewise the matter of EU membership, seen by some in the movement as the primary reason for independence. Rejoining the EU after independence would cause all sorts of constitutional problems, some of which have been rehearsed in the bitter debates about creating a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The temptation to build a Europhile indy movement is huge, but does realpolitik mean that some Welsh-identifying Brexit voters might be better reached with a message that this isn’t the Trojan horse for undoing the referendum result? That’s probably why the Indy Commission concluded that EU membership isn’t an immediate prospect, but, instead, better relations can be sought with the bloc both before and after independence."

What5I would like to consider to consider is what happens the days, month, and possibly years after Wales voted for independence.

Of course we would have had a template to follow or avoid because I don't really see a referendum coming  if Scotland had not already voted YES.

Firstly a form of provisional goverment should be  formed either by elections  or a merger of the current Senedd Members and MPs the latter would be required to sit in Westminster until independence day, they may keep their Party designations but will no longer sit on the government benches or among the shadow goverment.

It would seem naïve to expect those from non-independence parties to accept the  mandate of a YES referendum but we should expect them to, and from that moment work in the interest of Wales  monitoring the English Government whilst only voting on rare occasions if at all.

So it is imperative that there is also a majority of pro Independence Senedd members and MPs in echoing the current issue in Scotland where Unionist politicians are as rare as  a coherent tweet by Donald Trump.

I am not sure about Laura's pessimism over European membership , again much may depend of what happens in Scotland , but if the negotiations with what will be the English Government in Westminster take more than two years (which is not a fanciful time), then the negotiations with the EU could ne carried out at hte same time and as the Ddraig Goch is raised at Midnight as St David's Day approaches a European Flag with its extra star representing Cymru as the new  Nation will be known should follow a few minutes behind it.

A week wee before we would have gone to the polls and a new government elected  and  the new First Minister should read the proclamation , who he or she is may not be clear . 

Of course my scenario will depend on all Welsh politicians accepting the mandate and not concluding with their former London masters , to sabotage the negotiations.


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