How many times have honest debates regarding Welsh independence been ground to a halt with the following statement….
“Wales is too poor [to be independent]“?
But it is a genuine concern and one which, in all honesty, I’m glad that people have. Economy is, whether one likes it or not, the lifeblood of a nation. People are correct to prioritise it in a debate about Welsh independence.
Unfortunately, and all too often, I find that debates grind to a halt with the above statement. It seems as though people are satisfied enough that (apparently) Wales is too poor and thus no more debate should be had.
I remember having disagreements with my mother when I was growing up – usually on the most trivial and pointless of subjects. Despite the fact that 99.99% of the time I was rightly proven incorrect, there were odd occasions when I knew my argument was justified – and my mother knew it!
And for all the wonderful and selfless things that woman has ever done for me, I can’t get over the response she’d offer when she knew that I had the upper hand in a debate;
“Don’t answer back!”
So I didn’t.
But using “Wales is too poor” as some sort of incontestable fact will not hold in mature debate. We must tackle (and retackle) every point made – points made both against AND for an independent Wales.
So here we go then.
First of all, why is Wales poor in the first place?
Imagine a school. Now imagine that school is failing. Year after year the students fail to reach their blatant potential and grades remain persistently below national averages.
Now there are many factors surrounding the successes and shortcomings of educational establishments but, for me, persistent shortcomings are definitely NOT the fault of the students who are obviously being undercut regarding reaching their potential.
In order to tackle a school as described above, one must look at the SLT (Senior Leadership Team), the Governors and the LEA (Local Education Authority). We must look at those charged with paving the way of the school and, if deemed necessary by external opinion, changes must be made.
The same can be said of Wales. To claim that we are poor without questioning those who run the country is like blaming thousands of students for failing despite a below-par education.
We must look at the Welsh Assembly Government – being wary of the common confusion between the establishment itself and those who have controlled it for the 18 years of its existence – and we must look at the folks who have ruled Wales for 800 years down in Westminster.
Being careful to avoid being perceived as many a modern politician and avoiding the main challenge, here are but a few reasons why I believe Wales will NOT be too poor to have its own people running its own future.
HS2 is, in essence, a wonderful idea. Making transportation and logistics more efficient should be amongst the priorities of any government.
However, a problem is posed regarding who should pay for it. Should it be paid for by those who will benefit from the scheme or by those who live so far away from it that they’ll never come within 100 miles of it?
The closest HS2 will even come to the (largely-uninhabited) border between Wales and England is nearly 20 miles. It’s another 10 miles on top of that to reach the town of Wrecsam. Even a student in a failing school can work out that’s pretty far when the initial idea was to speed up connections.
And, let’s be honest, the vast majority of those who will use the new line will be for the benefit of Yorkshire/Lancashire – London commuters and businesses. Wales will probably gain as much benefit from HS2 as it would a high-speed train link between Galway and Dublin. Yes, people may use the link to reach Wales, but the vast benefit lies in the areas it touches.
If your colonial and bullish past (and present) means that you have to persistently watch your back for fear that those you oppressed may fancy justification and reparation then fine. This is a past that Wales does not share with the state of Great Britain. Wales does not need to wield a sword in the faces of others to prove that it is peaceful. Wales does not need Trident.
Trident costs around £25bn to renew. If we say, with Wales making up 5% of UK population, that Wales can keep 5% of that figure, I strongly believe that Welsh people will find spectacular and wonderful ways of distributing the £1.25bn saving on the three-and-a-half million people living here.
With regards to provision of water, Wales is to Great Britain as Switzerland is to Europe. The only difference is Switzerland makes profit to better the services provided and to reinvest for the future…. and Switzerland is already super rich!
This is done by charging for the water it exports – not just to other nations, but to other cantons of Switzerland too.
As a mini side note, Switzerland is twice the size of Wales with double the population. Even so it remains what many would describe as a ‘small nation’ but does pretty well economically. Add to this the fact that Wales also produces a surplus of electricity through tidal and wind power and we start to paint a picture of a potentially extremely prosperous land.
And paying tourists don’t seem to think our landscape and coastline are too shabby either.