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INDEPENDENCE FOR WALES? February 3, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
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While it might seem incredible at first glance the departure of Scotland from the United Kingdom may herald the further departure of Wales.

The fracturing of the UK seems to have arisen from the process of devolution which established local legislatures that have acquired distinct powers from the former unitary government in London. Scotland has independent sources of wealth an a sense that it is not getting the full value from its natural resources. While the prospects for the Euro may not seem bright, the European Union provides a larger framework.

John Harris in The Independent writes:

Not that many English people have been paying much attention, but since the late 1990s, devolution has inevitably created a specific and self-contained Welsh politics. Last year, a referendum granted the Welsh government full law-making powers in 20 fundamental areas, from health to transport, and an official commission is now looking at extending devolution yet further. On arriving here, you only need glance at the Western Mail to get an instant sense of a different reality: on the day I visit, the front page is taken up by stories about the Cardiff-produced Doctor Who, and the Welsh soccer star Craig Bellamy, along with the injured rugby internationals Dan Lydiate, Gethin Jenkins and Rhys Priestland, and Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones’s latest attack on the coalition in London. “Dragging Wales to edge of double-dip recession,” says the splash. “First minister hits out at UK government.”

Big policy differences between Cardiff and Westminster extend into the distance. There are no Sats tests in Welsh schools, and until they are seven, children in primary education follow a “foundation phase” based on ideas from Finland and Italy, and built around “play and active involvement rather than completing exercises in books”. Prescriptions are free, and the Welsh NHS will be unaffected by Andrew Lansley’s market-based revolution. When the coalition in London raised tuition fees to £9,000, the government in Cardiff guaranteed to meet the cost of the increase for any student who lives in Wales. As with Scotland, there is a sharp sense of a shared politics well to the left of what prevails in England: I lived in Wales between 2004 and 2009, and though its brand of Celtic social democracy is far from perfect, there’s a palpable sense of a society run along kinder, more communitarian ideas than those that hold sway to the east.

The talk of Welsh Independence has not escaped Russia Times:

Should Scotland and Wales leave the UK, what then would happen to Northern Ireland? Could the reunification of Ireland after about one hundred years be on offer? The devolution of the UK would have knock-on effects for the former colonies in the Southern Hemisphere.

The policies pursued by the Conservative and Liberal Democratic alliance in Westminster have acted to divide those parts of the British Isles  that combined to form the United Kingdom. These consequences were probably unintended.

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