In just over four months from now, voters in Scotland will go to the polls to answer the question that has faced increasing debate—should Scotland remain a part of the United Kingdom, or beco
In just over four months from now, voters in Scotland will go to the polls to answer the question that has faced increasing debate—should Scotland remain a part of the United Kingdom, or become an independent country? As Yes Scotland and Better Together make their cases, a similar debate is being held about independence almost 400 miles away, in Wales.
The case for Welsh independence has been raised by the nationalist party Plaid Cymru, and in an interview with Radio 4’s Today programme May 16, its leader, Leanne Wood, repeated the position of the party for Wales to be independent in the long term. However, Wood said Wales was in a different place in its journey compared to Scotland.
“We wouldn’t be pushing for a referendum at this stage,” Wood said. “But what we are doing is putting the case for strong improvements in our economy so that we can get to the point where we can have the same choice as people are having in Scotland.”
Wood added that the economy was the sole focus at the moment and once it had been built up, a case for Welsh independence can be made.
‘Not on the agenda’
The Silk Commission recently looked into the devolving of more powers to the Welsh Assembly, saying the devolution system in Wales should mirror Scotland, according to a report from Wales Online.
Yet, on the subject of independence, recent polling suggests the people of Wales are against it, with an April YouGov poll for Wales Online showing 12 per cent of people in favour of independence. The poll also indicated that a majority of Welsh people were against Scotland becoming independent, with 62 per cent saying no.
Jess Blair, a policy analyst with the Institute of Welsh Affairs think tank in Cardiff, said support for devolution had gone up since the referendum on devolution in 1997, but independence is hard for Wales to get its head around.
“Devolution has been a process,” Blair said. “Wales has been coming to term with it. Talk of independence with huge questions of new powers is just one step ahead of the game. There are a number of factors that could make Wales rethink the position.”
Blair added that the hands of officials in Cardiff were tied, especially on relations between the Welsh and UK government.
“Welsh independence is not on the agenda, reform on funding has been,” Blair said. “Westminster has said funding will not be reformed. It was a crucial thing that the Treasury never responded to.”
Wales had been underfunded by the Barnett formula by £300 million a year.
Blair added that as a result, the view was that Scotland had been more important than Wales, and if there is a yes vote, discussions either can be held on reforming the Barnett formula, or Wales may consider a referendum on independence. However, Blair says, it is a fringe issue considering the low popularity of Wales becoming independent.
“The impact of Scottish independence will be massive on Wales,” Blair said.
But, for now, Blair says, there are a lot of question marks. Therefore, what happens on 18th September may change everything, including the debate on Welsh independence.
What do you think? Should Wales become independent? Have your say in the comments section below.