What is Independence?

In the Western Mail on Friday, Rhodri Glyn Thomas claimed that independence was "a concept that no-one fully understands". I can't say for sure whether he genuinely doesn't understand what independence is or if he just said this as a way of justifying his opposition to it ... though I suspect the second is much more likely to be true.

Independence is a very simple concept, and nobody should have any trouble understanding what it is. Here are just some examples, though I could provide many more:

 
     

Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, but became independent in June 1991 and became a member state of the United Nations in May 1992. It then became a member state of the European Union in May 2004.
 

     

Estonia used to be part of the USSR, but became independent in August 1991 and became a member state of the United Nations in September 1991. It too became a member state of the European Union in May 2004.
 

     

Slovakia used to be part of Czechoslovakia, but became independent in July 1992 and became a member state of the United Nations in January 1993. And it too became a member state of the European Union in May 2004.
 

     

Montenegro used to be part of Serbia and Montenegro (and of Yugoslavia before that) but became independent in May 2006 and became a member state of the United Nations in June 2006.
 

     

South Sudan used to be part of Sudan, but became independent in July 2011 and became a member state of the United Nations five days later.

 

Independence is moving from the position of being a constituent part of a larger state to being able to represent our own national interests directly on the international stage in organizations such as the UN and EU. No nation can become a member of either one or both of these organizations unless they are independent, so for virtually all practical purposes this acts as the definition of what independence is.

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One part of the smokescreen that Rhodri Glyn and others like to put up is that independence and interdependence are somehow mutually exclusive. That's silly. All independent countries are interdependent to a greater or lesser degree. On the positive side they can agree to trade with each other, cooperate with each other, make treaties and international agreements with each other, and sometimes pool aspects of their sovereignty with each other. On the negative side they will sometimes choose not to trade with certain countries, to impose sanctions or not to have diplomatic relations with them, or even go to war.

This is all part of the responsibility of being an independent nation. We will be able to make these decisions for ourselves to suit our national interests and our sense of what's right and wrong.

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51 comments:

NConway said...

Good post ...simple and well demonstrated

Glyndo said...

"that independence and interdependence are somehow mutually exclusive. That's silly."

Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree - but what we really need is for one of the current wave of European nations striving for independence to achieve their goal - whether Scotland, or Catalunya, Flanders or Basque. We just need one clear example of a country becoming independent (and preferabally remaining within EU). That will kill all these stupid statements from the British Unionists.

Penddu

Anonymous said...

For the hard of hearing let me give my simple definition of the independence and interdependence conundrum:

'Independence gives you the tools and the freedom to make interdependence work for you'.

Siôn

Cibwr said...

I don't disagree, I tend to think that interdependence and separatism are mutually exclusive. Separatism as a synonym for isolationism....now the true isolationists are UKIP and their helpers. Semantics all. We know what independence means, membership at the top table. We know in the modern interconnected world splendid isolationism is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Cibwr, I don't think that UKIP are isolationists and we do ourselves no favours using the kind of emotive language which has been used against Plaid against UKIP. The UK would still trade with international partners were it a part of the EU or not, so, there's no basis to this 'isolationist' term.

We can disagree with UKIP on the EU - though I think they make a lot of very valid points on democracy and governance - but please, let us not go down the Euro-left and Eurosmug avenue of calling people who disagree with the EU as isolationists etc. The desire to be all 'internationalist' and not to be seen as being 'isolationsist' etc has partly caused the problem of the Euro and EU and has lead to weak thinking.

The EU would have been better off stopping at where it was in 1992 and going for a wider rather than deeper Union.

Our argument with UKIP is that it doesn't recognise Welsh national aspirations and its policies. Isolationist is neither here nor there.

Siôn

Anonymous said...

Good post.

For a nation to become independent in current times means ticking all the required boxes to become a member of the United Nations. Simples.

And I like Siôn's statement: 'Independence gives you the tools and the freedom to make interdependence work for you'.

Iwan Rhys

Anonymous said...

Even Dafydd Elis-Thomas and Rhodri Glyn Thomas should be able to understand that.

Plaid won't make progress towards independence until such as these are turfed out of office,

Anonymous said...

Sion

UKIP are 'little (very little) Englanders'.

Anonymous said...

While I have a an amount of sympathy with the idea of an independent Wales, no one appears to be addressing the issue which strikes me as salient, the matter of identity. I travel extensively throughout Wales with my job and I hear more and more people who appear not to be from Wales in the first place. While the origin of an individual should by no means be any barrier to identity or nationality, the scale of demographic change in Wales surely brings into question the simple viability of any long term Welsh national identity. To be frank, in many areas of Wales an increasingly large and, frequently, a majority of the population are from England. As far as my experience goes, their identity remains English or, if pushed, British and in many areas this appears to apply to their children. I am certainly not blaming these people as their actions seem perfectly reasonable. If present population movements continue, and by all accounts they appear to be accelerating, then the simple fact will be that the majority of those living in Wales will either not be from Wales and if born here will have only a very tenuous sense of a Welsh identity, if any at all.
This, I think, would be sad, but I honestly cannot think of any way of preventing this. I was in Cardiganshire last week in the villages of Newcastle Emlyn and Tregaron and was honestly astonished by what I found, with the majority speaking English with obvious English accents. I remember these palces as Welsh speaking now I would hardly have known I was in Wales.
I would be grateful if anyone advocating independence could address this issue.

Anonymous said...

A bigger issue than identity is finance.

The likely deficit would simply be too large. That probably lies at the heart of DET and RGT's ambivalence.

There needs to be recognition of this. We simply couldn't cover our bills.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.33

"The likely deficit would simply be too large"

Caused by being in the UK.. its a Catch 22 situation, but worse it'll get while we remain a part of this very unequal union.

However, the deficit is not as much as it appears.

Wales has no control over its natural resources (wind, water and coal) which are excellent potential sources of revenue.

The way the tax system is structured in the UK minimises the amount of tax recorded as originating in Wales.. VAT is a good example.

The UK spends a vast amount of money on defence and security, on wars, both illegal and immoral, and ill-advised military adventures. There has been a huge expansion in the security services. Waste is enormous, billions on gigantic aircraft carriers (with no aircraft for them), the scrapping of very expensive programmes and the renewal of a nuclear deterrent. Wales wouldn't need any of these things.

It's well worth looking at this website for some idea of where and how your taxes are being spent:
http://www.secret-bases.co.uk/

There are hosts of other examples of how Wales has been and is being shafted. The investment in London's transport infrastructure is huge - billions on Crossrail etc but Wales doesn't benefit from it at all. Wales gets a pittance to spend on roads and railways. The Tories won't even fund electrifying all the way to Swansea, which would cost a tiny proportion of Crossrail alone.

Four hundred million pounds of taxes raised in Wales are being spent on the Olympics, but only a few thousand pounds are being spent in Wales.

With independence the Welsh government would have all the powers it needed to create a vibrant economy not dependent on financial services which will eventually be the downfall of the UK, as its manufacturing base has been in decline for a century. Now it resorts to making money by sophisticated gambling in the markets - shortsighted and stupid in the extreme when the economy is so inbalanced.

The argument that Wales is too small, too weak too poor etc. is the unionist one - it's their strongest propaganda weapon. It will keep Wales and its people impoverished in perpetuity if we don't counteract it in the minds of our people. Plaid has failed to do that so far. Electing the likes of DET and RGT is a big mistake. They should be sent packing.

We've listened to the unionist propaganda machine for far too long. It seems you've fallen for it.

Hogyn o Rachub said...

"I was in Cardiganshire last week in the villages of Newcastle Emlyn and Tregaron and was honestly astonished by what I found, with the majority speaking English with obvious English accents. I remember these palces as Welsh speaking now I would hardly have known I was in Wales.
I would be grateful if anyone advocating independence could address this issue"

You'll be lucky! Plaid Cymru have completely dodged this issue of the past decade, to its own electoral detriment I believe, and it may well soon be to the detriment of the independence movement (and frankly the obvious decline in the Welsh language and Welsh identity is a much more important issues, albeit a different one).

But they are to a degree interconnected issues - there's no real doubt that the more people who identify themselves as English/British there are in Wales, the more of an uphill struggle independence becomes ... and then what happens in Scotland or the Basque Country or anywhere. However all of Wales' parties are utterly apathetic about this issue - and I suspect that the unionist parties are in particular because its to their own electoral gain to be so.

Anonymous said...

**and then what happens in Scotland or the Basque Country or anywhere becomes irrelevant

Anonymous said...

"Caused by being in the UK.. its a Catch 22 situation, but worse it'll get while we remain a part of this very unequal union."

Yes but you won't win popular support through Wales getting poorer. Part of the SNP's credibility is built on getting stronger within the UK and thus having the confidence to move beyond that (hopefully). Without equating Scotland to Wales completely, a similar process would have to happen here.

I agree with the potential future sources of income and how Wales is being shafted, but to get close to independence you would need a Plaid government first, and that entails having the day to day answers.

"The argument that Wales is too small, too weak too poor etc. is the unionist one - it's their strongest propaganda weapon. "

Smaller countries do better, we aren't too small. But it's a cold fact, we're too poor at the moment. The "too small" or even "too stupid" argument doesn't stand up but the "too poor" one does, for most people. Plaid supporters need to face this because it isn't propaganda. The UK has a deficit/debt as well! But the Welsh deficit would break all of the rules.

Devolution so far has actually been very limited and we do not have anywhere near the institutions and capacity we need to be an independent state.

Anonymous said...

Anon 15:09

"..we do not have anywhere near the institutions and capacity we need to be an independent state."

MH has listed above some recent examples of countries achieving independence, many without the institutions and capacity to be independent in the eyes of the state which formerly controlled that country.

Wales will always be too poor if we adopt your attitude. Which institutions do we need? Wales would need to create a central bank. All newly independent states have to do that.

The UK has precious few resources for its size. Relatively, Wales is better off in that respect. It certainly is in a more advantageous position geographically that either the RoI, Scotland or many of the smaller eastern European states which are members of the EU.

Wales can't afford not to be independent.

Anonymous said...

anon (15.09) You've just said "the Welsh deficit would break all of the rules". What rules would it break that the UK hasn't already broken? According to that, the UK is "too poor" to be a country isn't it.

stuart said...

The greatest example for the people of Wales will be Scotland. We have so much more in common with them than any of these other countries.

It'll become tangible once they break the chains.

Anonymous said...

The matter of economic viability is, surely, irrelevant if the majority in Wales do not consider themselves Welsh. Why will no one address this issue?

Anonymous said...

Or even discuss it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 16:58

"..(if)...the majority in Wales do not consider themselves Welsh.."

Let's have your evidence for that statement first. Anecdote won't do.

Anonymous said...

At present, the majority of those in Wales certainly do consider themselves Welsh, at least in part. The point is, that the proportion is declining and declining precipitously in many areas. I think the census results will be something of a shock for those hoping for a national future for wales.

Jac o' the North said...

It's rather pointless hypothesing about our 'national future' if there ain't gonna be a nation to vote for it.

The demographic changes we are seeing today are being engineered and encouraged for precisely that reason.

MH said...

Thanks for all the comments. I don't think anybody has said anything to challenge what independence is (which was the point of this post) and we seem to have moved on to other issues. I can't deal with all of them, so I'll just concentrate on a few points that have been made.

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The "national identity" issue strikes me as a case of not thinking straight. Wanting to establish or maintain a Welsh national identity is clearly a strong motivator for some, but I don't see that it necessarily has any direct relevance to independence.

An independent Wales is not a way of shutting a door on immigration. We can leave isolation and separatism to parties like UKIP and the BNP. An independent Wales will not close its borders. I very much value the freedom we have in the EU to live and work anywhere in it. But even if the EU were to disappear, we would still have the same degree of free movement between Wales and whatever's left of the UK as there was between the UK and Ireland when it became independent long before the EU came into existence.

The benefits of independence are not for any one section of the population of Wales, but for everyone who lives in Wales ... whether they were born in Wales, England, Poland, Pakistan or Barbados. It is a mistake to think that only people who identify themselves as Welsh will vote Yes in a referendum on independence. For some it will be the overriding reason, and of course I respect that, but for many others it won't or it will be just one of many reasons. Everyone who lives in Wales wants Wales to be a better place; economically, in terms of fairness and in terms of a better quality of life.

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On the issue of immigration, I will only repeat what I've said quite a few times before. The main solution to the problem of younger people having to leave Wales is economic. In blunt terms, the lack of work or the lack of prospects for better work. And this is also what makes it possible for people who don't need to work to come to Wales and price out those that are trying to stay here. The fragmentation of communities (and the loss of language when these are Welsh-speaking communities) is the result of not developing our economy; and the best way of solving that problem is by addressing the lack of jobs and lack of opportunities that cause it rather than looking only at its effects. That's not to say that "sticking plasters" can't be useful—they can and should be used—but it is more important to address the underlying cause.

Moving the levers that control the Welsh economy to Wales is the only way to ensure that our economy is built around our strengths. The natural resources, and particularly the energy resources, we have put Wales in an ideal position in a world where fuel is going to get more and more expensive.

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One other point I'd like to address is Scotland. I don't think Scotland is the only example for us. If Scotland does not vote for independence in a few years, it will in no way affect the argument for Welsh independence. Of course it will be easier if they or another country has paved the way; but in comparison with Wales, Scotland is a rich country and therefore they do not need independence in the same way as we do.

Scotland, Flanders and Catalunya could be described as places where one (but not the only) argument for their independence is that they would be better off because a substantial part of their wealth is syphoned off to the states they are currently part of. We, in contrast, need independence because our economy is continuing to slide downwards, and because the UK shows little sign of wanting to pursue economic policies to rebalance the over-centralization the UK has at present.

Anonymous said...

It's strange that anon 11.23 has mentioned Newcastle Emlyn because I live there. I know exactly what he means. I went to the Victorian night a couple of weeks ago and they had Morris Dancers there! Is that a part of our heritage? Cardigan is the same as are most villages in the area except for maybe Crymych which a dump built on top of hill. Settlers don't on the whole like that. But they are to be increasingly found there too.

Anonymous said...

How many places in Europe is being overrun by people of a different identity and able to outbid locals in housing and purchasing businesses etc? Surely, independence is all about keeping national identity or what's the point?

Anonymous said...

Hogyn o Rachub said...


".......... Plaid Cymru have completely dodged this issue of the past decade,....."

And that's why I don't feel they are worth voting for. No different to any of the other parties. 'People of Wales' LOL!

Cibwr said...

Anon, its not just the EU that UKIP would withdraw from but the European Convention on Human Rights, their whole agenda is one of withdrawal from international agreements. If that isn't isolationism what is?

Jac o' the North said...

MH said, "The benefits of independence are not for any one section of the population of Wales, but for everyone who lives in Wales ... whether they were born in Wales, England, Poland, Pakistan or Barbados. It is a mistake to think that only people who identify themselves as Welsh will vote Yes in a referendum on independence. For some it will be the overriding reason, and of course I respect that, but for many others it won't or it will be just one of many reasons. Everyone who lives in Wales wants Wales to be a better place; economically, in terms of fairness and in terms of a better quality of life."

It's quite possible that people born in Poland, Pakistan or Barbados will vote Yes in an independence referendum. But it's not guaranteed; for let's remember that in Quebec in 1995 it was the non-French natives combined with the immigrants from around the world that deprived the Quebecois of independence.

Here in Wales the overwhelming majority of the non-Welsh are English. In any independence referendum they will, effectively, be asked to vote for separation from their homeland. No way are they going to vote for that.

I agree that a stronger economy will help keep young Welsh people here. But it won't make our rural and coastal areas any less attractive to those with more money than locals to spend on property.

Something else is obviously needed - and quickly - otherwise we might as well resign ourselves to the native Welsh being in a minority in most parts of the country. This issue exposes yet another weakness of Plaid Cymru - it's refusal to even concede that the problem exists. Which is why Plaid's credibility among nationalists will not be restored by a change of leader.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's a future for the Welsh identity. Most people in the north-east, M4 corridor and rural Wales are English. The English are even starting to move into the valleys. Gwent is full of them. It wouldn't surprise me if the 'Welsh' figure in the census is around 65%.

Our brightest kids are moving away to England in their droves and even those who move to Cardiff or Swansea for uni and are encouraged by their surroundings to develop a quintessential middle-class English mindset. Only the poor districts of the Valleys, parts of Gwynedd and parts of Carmarthenshire are overwhelmingly Welsh.

Anonymous said...

English immigration is a good thing! Becaue had there been more of it in 1997 then we wouldn't have to put up with those useless incompetents known as the Welsh Assembly. I want to stay British thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

You mean become English?

MH said...

There are some very disturbing things in what you say, Jac. When you talk of Quebec, the simple fact is that the referendum didn't pass because less than 50% of those who voted were in favour of independence. Why blame it on "non-French natives"? In Wales, the "non-Welsh natives" (to use your same horrible description) who live in Wales have every bit as much right to a say in the future of Wales as those who have lived in Wales all their lives. The way people vote in an independence referendum is not "guaranteed" according to where they come from. Many people who are born and bred in Wales will not vote for independence.

And I don't see why you think immigrants to Wales from England fall into a different category from immigrants who have come from elsewhere. You say they will be voting "for separation from their homeland". But what separation? People will be as free to travel between Wales and England as they are now. Nobody's going to be digging ditches or putting up razor-wire fences on the border.

Consider this: people from England who have settled in Wales have done so because they prefer Wales to where they used to live in England. And (because they would have had the choice of many more places to live elsewhere in England than in Wales, since England is a bigger country) it's fair to conclude that they think Wales is a better country to live in than England. People who think that highly of Wales might well turn out to be highly motivated to vote Yes to independence in order to keep Wales as a distinct and better country than England. In fact their positivity about Wales puts the negativity of some people who have always lived in Wales to shame.

Finally, if outsiders have "more money than locals to spend on property", that is hardly their fault. Isn't the obvious solution to that problem to make the locals richer? Improving the economy of Wales is the key, and that will only come about when we ourselves take responsibility for it by becoming independent.

Anonymous said...

While I share Jac's concerens about some communities being overrun by English settlers, the same could have been said 100 years ago when English and Irish settlers moved in - particularly to the south Wales coalfield. Today their descendants are among the strongest supporters of independence - we should not reject them and drive them into English ghettos (complete with Morris Men and cucumber sandwiches) - but instead we need to esnure they are assimilated and integrated into the community, and become fully aware and supportive for our need for independence

Penddu

Jac o' the North said...

MH, permit me to clarify and expand . . .

First off, I did not use the term "non-Welsh natives". In referring to the anglophone minority of Quebec I used the term "non-French natives". Perfectly acceptable. Later, I talked of the "non-Welsh" in Wales. What's wrong with that? So your reprimand that follows is totally unjustified.

However anyone tries to interpret it, the fact remains that in the 1995 referendum a clear majority of the French in Quebec voted for independence. Yet the referedum was won by the near-unanimous No vote from the non-French Canadians and recent immigrants. (Many of this latter group merely stopping off in Montreal waiting for their green card to enter the USA.)

What worries me with your response is that too often efforts to discuss such issues are met not with coherent arguments but with political correctness in an attempt to stifle debate. Moving on . . .

You say that those English who move here prefer Wales, they think it a "better country" than England. Possibly, but in which way?

Is it the scenery? Less traffic? Cheaper property prices? Low crime rates? The absence of a multiracial society? From my 30+ years of living in rural Meirionnydd I can tell you that few come to Wales because they wish to identify and integrate with the indigenes.

Of course it's not the fault of the English that they have more money than Welsh locals (I never suggested it was). But even if there were more jobs in our rural areas they'd be low pay jobs, so the problem would persist. What's more, many of those who retire to, and for other reasons move to, a rural idyll in Wales don't want it 'ruined' by anything that might provide jobs for locals.

Finally, Penddu reminded us of the immigrants to the industrial south a century or more ago, and how their descendants are now Welsh. But these were working class immigrants to a vibrant society into which they assimilated through the shared experience: work, sport, etc. In our rural areas there is today a largely middle class influx - less inclined to integrate - to areas dying on their feet and offering less opportunities for the kinds of social and other intercourse offered by the industrial south a century ago.

Anonymous said...

MH- you are of course totally right to say that the potential benefits of independence could be appreciated by anyone, regardless of their nation of origin, and our national movement has to be based on that premise. Yet, Jac of the North is also right to say that this issue of national identity is also crucial to the whole question. The answer? We need a national movement putting the case for independence, but we also need another movement, dare I say it, similar to Meibion Glyndwr, which can agitate over cultural and territorial identity. The two movements would force the issue of the continuation of Wales's identity into everyone's awareness. With awareness there is hope.

Anonymous said...

If the English settlers do not properly assimilate we may eventually end up with a Ulster-type situation - with our version of the Bullet and the Ballot Box -hopefully not - but a combination of Petermandering and Morris Men displays may push many moderate nationalists over the edge.

Penddu

Draig said...

There seems to be a kind of dichotomy which says that Welsh people are "more" likely to support Independence, while English incomers are less likely to do so.

How do we really know?

The Nationalist movement in this country has never clearly articulated a case for Independence, so we have no basis in experience to determine how the "incomers" will respond to it. It probably depends very much on why people move here in the first place.

There are certainly English people in Plaid Cymru who are quite comfortable with the idea of Welsh Independence. I would argue that this is partly because they were obviously open enough to the idea in the first instance to be persuaded/decide to join, and in the second instance they are of course regularly exposed to a debate on Independence which has always taken place to a greater/lesser degree within Plaid Cymru.

So why should English people in Wales be so averse to the idea? If it's on an economic basis then they have no more/less grounds to be averse to it than people who are born and bred here anyway! I suspect that there is a generational aspect to it, where there is an older generation who are brought up with this idea of "Britishness" - but that could just as well be people who are born in Wales and will never support Independence, as English people who retire here (and consider themselves to be "British").

Let's stick to the economics - and stay away from the ethnicity. That's not political correctness, that's political savvy.

Jac o' the North said...

Draig, I agree we don't know for certain that the English living in Wales are less likely to vote for independence than the Welsh born - but I'd still stake my house on it.

What we do have are certain 'guidelines', such as the devolution referendum of 1997. In the area in which I live Bala, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Dolgellau, Penrhyndeudraeth and similar communities voted heavily Yes, while Barmouth, Tywyn, Aberdyfi voted heavily No. Now why was this if not due to the different demographics?

Back home in Swansea a similar pattern emerged. The working class - and therefore more Welsh - neighbourhoods in the east and north of the city voted Yes, while the more affluent suburbs to the west (and of course, Gower) voted No. Again due to demographics, but also highlighting the fact that so many of the better-paid posts in Wales are not filled by Welsh people.

Let me disassociate myself from the two comments following mine above. There is no need for violence and we are not facing an Ulster-type situation. But we do need the kind of organisation now being formed to campaign on issues as the Local Development Plans being forced on our councils, which have no purpose other than to encourage more English residents - in order to weaken the demand for further constitutional change.

Just read Anon 23:29 yesterday: "English immigration is a good thing! Becaue had there been more of it in 1997 then we wouldn't have to put up with those useless incompetents known as the Welsh Assembly. I want to stay British thank you very much!" That says it all.

Both sides of the debate know the realities here. And no amount of semantics, sophistry or whistling in the dark can change those stark, demographic realities.

Anonymous said...

MH said:

"Finally, if outsiders have "more money than locals to spend on property", that is hardly their fault. Isn't the obvious solution to that problem to make the locals richer? Improving the economy of Wales is the key, and that will only come about when we ourselves take responsibility for it by becoming independent."

You will never have a situation where the Welsh can compete financially. More often than not, those who come and settle here from England do so because of the massive amount of capital they have from selling their properties in London or the South East (of England). Successive UK governments have made the UK a safe haven for the World's wealthy....from middle east despots to Russian Oligarchs. And the money they spend on prime properties moves out from those areas to the suburbs. We're talking in the tens of billions every year. It's not simply down to England having such a dynamic economy. It doesn't. This is the money which finds it's way into our communities buying up land and property. Of course, there's also the scam known as the City too.

"Overseas buyers see London property as a safe haven for their cash - and the weak pound is making it a cheap one. In the past year, agents have reported large groups of (with many moving funds out of Swiss bank accounts to escape Silvio Berlusconi's tax clampdown), and wealthy buyers from unstable economies across Eastern Europe, Russia and Greece have all been piling in, seeing a London home as a safe place to invest."

http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/2011/09/09/comment/property-matters/can-london-s-property-boom-continue-uiephA0m8iYMrVndAdvSJN/article.html

If Welsh parties, Plaid Cymru in particular, won't defend our communities against this, then I won't be voting for them.

Draig said...

"Back home in Swansea a similar pattern emerged. The working class - and therefore more Welsh - neighbourhoods in the east and north of the city voted Yes, while the more affluent suburbs to the west (and of course, Gower) voted No. Again due to demographics, but also highlighting the fact that so many of the better-paid posts in Wales are not filled by Welsh people."

There are two separate arguments here. Did some areas of Swansea vote "No" because they have a bigger population of incomers (i.e. Gower) or did they vote "No" because they are more affluent and didn't see the need for devolution.

This is a question which was raised in a study undertaken by Barn (if I remember rightly) shortly after the 1997 referendum. The study found that working class and welsh speaking areas voted more strongly for Devolution in '97. Even in Cardiff, areas like Llanrumney voted more strongly than areas like Rhiwbina.

Given that working class and welsh speaking areas of Wales tend to be the poorer parts of the country the inference is that these poorer areas voted FOR GREATER AUTONOMY from the British state.

Whether that dynamic carries through into outright Independence remains to be seen...

MH said...

Anon 19:06 says, "You will never have a situation where the Welsh can compete financially."

Why the defeatism? Why on earth shouldn't an independent Wales become more prosperous than England?

Anonymous said...

MH....you didn't address the main reason I pointed out for this wealth. You just bury your head in the sand. Sorry....but you live in cloud cukoo land.

Anonymous said...

Look at this:
http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=173291&st=0

MH said...

And my question was: Why on earth shouldn't an independent Wales become more prosperous than England?

Anonymous said...

And I've pointed out to you that London is attracting the world's rich because the UK is a tax haven and it's also a world financial capital. London alone has many times the population of Wales. Wales will never be likely to be able to compete in terms of land prices and property prices as London. They will therefore always have more economic clout than us. You are not seeing this as a problem. Oh yes, maybe Welsh GDP will one day be on a par and even be higher than that of England etc but the problem which I've highlighted will still remain.

MH said...

But what then is your point, Anon? Why are you getting so worked up about rich tax exiles buying property in London? They're probably doing the same in a dozen other big cities in the world too. As you say, London is much bigger than Wales, so why should a few hundred, or even a few thousand, mega-rich people buying expensive property in London have any appreciable knock-on effect on general house prices for the eight million or so that live in London? It's not relevant.

High property prices in London are a problem for London, but I don't see why it should be a problem for Wales. Housing prices in Wales are relatively low, so what really matters is that there is enough economic activity in Wales generating enough prosperity so that people in Wales can afford to buy, or rent, property for themselves in their locality.

That will be helped by making sure we build enough suitable housing to meet local needs, but won't be helped by some of the developments proposed in Wales that don't meet any real local need.

Anonymous said...

I've attempted to explain. I give up.

Jac o' the North said...

Draig, I don't recall what Barn might have said but I certainly remember something in Y Faner Goch that claimed the 1997 referendum as a victory for the working class. But this, predictable, analysis did not hold up.

For had it been true, and nationally applicable, then Flintshire, Wrecsam, Torfaen and Newport would have voted Yes. What it really came down to in English-speaking areas was the percentage of the population that was Welsh born. With a secondary influence of whether that population received Welsh TV / radio and read Welsh newspapers. This explains why Neath Port Talbot returned the highest Yes vote. Of course, Welsh speakers in these areas were more likely to vote Yes than than their anglophone neighbours.

As for Welsh-speaking areas, my earlier reference to the result(s) in Meirionnydd should make it clear that these also split on country of birth, but this was disguised or overlaid by language.

As for your question, "Did some areas of Swansea vote "No" because they have a bigger population of incomers (i.e. Gower) or did they vote "No" because they are more affluent . . .? The answer is yes, to both. Which only served to expose the colonial nature of Welsh society that sees the more affluent areas with lower percentages of Welsh born than the poorer areas.

The great failure of devolution is that the poorer and Welsh areas remain poorer and become less Welsh year on year. Their loyalty is either being taken for granted or else they're being punished for voting Yes back in '97. Either way, they've been betrayed.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jac.

Draig said...

@Jac. More contradictions. If it was based on the areas where a high percentage was Welsh-born, then why did an area like Torfaen - with a high Welsh-born population - vote "No"? Is it an outlier? It's notable that in this years referendum the heartland of the "No" campaign was...Torfaen! And most of the spokesmen with the exception of Banner were, from what I could hear, Welsh.

It's also notable that in the referendum this year all the areas that voted "No" last time (flintshire, wrexham, torfane etc.) all voted YES. The only area to vote "No"? Monmouth. One of the wealthiest areas in Wales. If devolution has failed Wales and we have grown poorer (and less Welsh) as a country, it hasn't stopped a poorer (and supposedly less Welsh) Wales from opting for an even greater - if still very limited measure of autonomy.

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