February 02, 2012

Could Wales leave the United Kingdom?

This is the title of a poor quality piece in The Guardian.

It's mainly a profile of Leanne Wood, apparently the favourite to take over the leadership of Plaid Cymru (who knew?). A "proud republican", she views Wales's economic development as typical of other colonial/extractive economies like those in Latin America. Her "Greenprint" for the south Wales valleys sets out a vision of "food sovereignty" and "self-sufficiency".

The Guardian piece is longer on the profile of Ms Wood than it is on numbers and comes with self-regarding fillers by its writer, John Harris. Judging by the map, we may be in for a border dispute over the Wirral.

Wales has a gleaming new assembly building (who paid?), free prescriptions (who paid?), and "when the coalition in London raised tuition fees to £9,000 (no, they didn't), the government in Cardiff guaranteed to meet the cost of the increase for any student who lives in Wales". Who paid?

Even the Welsh Labour leader has suggested replacing the House of Lords with a chamber split evenly between the UK's constituent countries:
You'd have a lower house selected on population and an upper house selected on geography, so there's equal representation. That's something we could look at now. The US does exactly that, and the US is stable.
This is fairyland. Let Wales go its own way, then. But does it want to?

Sadly, at last year's Welsh Assembly elections Plaid came third, even behind the Tories, with 19% of the main vote. "Not exactly earth-shaking", says The Guardian's man, leaving you to wonder why his long piece centres on a political loony whom they might choose as their leader.

Suddenly, I'm in favour of Welsh independence. Go for it, Wales.


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Having met John Harris at the Witney count on the night of the 2010 general election, if any loony had to write an article about a loony politician then no better person could be found than young Master Harris!

John Page said...

Tales like that make me feel I've somehow been missing out on life.

Or not ... :)

Louise said...

In Wales we pay absolutely no tax or National Insurance. Ever. Businesses registered here pay absolutely no VAT. We just sit here eating laverbread waiting for the next handout that the gods at Westminister see fit to give us out of their own pockets...

John Page said...

The Welsh Labour leader says in the article:

The reality is that we spend more than we raise in tax, so there is a subsidy element of money that comes from the south-east of England....

No one is saying that no tax is raised in Wales. But the Welsh government gets to spend more than Welsh taxpayers provide.

It's a weakness of the Guardian article that its writer doesn't trouble himself to quote the numbers.

Britnot said...

And of course there is no incentive for the leader of the Welsh Labour Party to say that is there? Of course if he said anything else he would have to answer to his lord and master at Westminster!

What is interesting is that the UK government(which by the way is in deficit to the tune of £151 Billion) refuses to publish budget figures for Wales or Scotland. These figures must be produced to give people the chance to make an informed decision.

William Gruff said...

Louise: The truth is that net, you pay no tax, ever.

As one of those English people who is Celtically thought to dread Scotch and Wealisc (And Northern Irish?) independence, I can only say bring it on, and the sooner the better.

Are they keeping a welcome in the hillsides? Personally I couldn't give a flying English fuck, whether or not the 'U'K government publishes budget figures for Scotland and Wales (there's a conspiracy look you, isn't it?)