Even supporters of Welsh independence (and anyone who recognises the benefits of localised and better-tailored governance, for that matter) have been taken aback by a recent poll by YouGov that states that the number of people who wish to see Wales as an independent and sovereign state could be as much as 1 in 3 residents of this fine land. Considering only around 70% of Wales’ inhabitants were born in the country, this poll was nothing short of groundbreaking.
I, and many others, have made it our goal to share the benefits (and potential shortcomings) of Welsh independence to ensure the conversation, first and foremost, actually happens and to enlighten people to an alternative to the status quo which, no one can truly deny, has not brought Wales the prosperity of which it is capable.
Before the YesCymru campaign officially kicked off, the struggle for Welsh independence was always a subject of conversation for me. Some of the most interesting conversations happened when I would quiz politicians and those ‘clued up’ in law. I would often hear how both devolution and eventual independence would always be scuppered by three main hindrances:
- Wales has no control over its energy,
- Wales has no national bank,
- Wales has no legal system of its own.
Concerns that Wales has no control over its energy and resources, in my view, are best (and only) rectified through gaining sovereignty in full.
Rather than linking up the vast potential of renewable resources Wales currently produces simply goes into the National Grid where multinational companies flog it off to consumers – including Welsh ones. No profits reach Welsh coffers.
And instead of selling off our water reserves (some of which created by drowning Welsh villages) at a modest and economical price (much like Switzerland currently does between its own cantons), we currently watch our water trickle away along with our national dignity.
As I said, for me the harnessing of our own energy and resources depends wholly on us gaining independence – rather than the other way around.
So what of a bank? Well, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not too well versed in economics but I’m pretty sure Wales would benefit from having its own bank.
North of Hadrian’s Wall, the Bank of Scotland (not to be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland), has been long established with the aim of supporting the people of Scotland. As a comparison between that and the Bank of England (established mainly to finance defence spending by the English government), the Bank of Scotland was set up by the government in Scotland to aid and support Scottish businesses.
Wales could have this too. Imagine a bank with its own version of the pound (or whatever currency it would choose) that could support the interests of the Welsh economy. It boils down to similar reasons as to why I want Wales itself to be independent – better choices made by those who understand Welsh people’s needs best.
I guess this is something else that could be gained by becoming an independent nation, but even unionists wishing Wales to remain a part of the UK have to admit there are benefits to a Welsh national bank.
Finally, laws. Once again I have to admit that I have in no way passed the bar and law really ‘isn’t my thing.’ Here are simply my observations regarding law in Wales.
Essentially, the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 removed the Welsh laws of Hywel Dda seeing English Law extend its paws across Wales. Before that, Welsh Law was considered pioneering across Europe having drawn influences from well-travelled Cistercian monks etc until a legal system was established with the diverse needs of the Welsh people at its core. Some of the pioneering elements of Cyfraith Hywel were rights for women after divorce and inheritance. Since then, legalities in Wales have never been uttered unless preceded by the words ‘The Laws of England and….’! For all intents and purposes; English Common Law.
Without our own legal system, Wales will forever be at the whim of English law. Even devolved legislation has had to be (and will continue to require being) signed off by our friends in across the border.
In many ways, arguments can be had as to whether resources, banks and legal systems are required prior to securing independence or whether Welsh independence itself must be the catalyst in securing them. Whichever becomes apparent over the coming years, one thing is certain: the eventual success Welsh independence depends on how we see ourselves as a nation and how confident we our in ourselves as an unique collective of fantastic people to achieve what’s best for those who call Wales their home.