In my last post, I commented on Owen Smith's speech to the Labour conference at Llandudno last weekend, particularly his repeated emphasis on the idea of Britain (or the UK, for he used both interchangeably) as "one nation". I noted that this was very different from what he had said at the Labour Conference in Manchester last October, for all the emphasis in his speech then was on "the nations of Britain" as opposed to Britain as "one nation".
These two different positions effectively delineate the long-standing fault line in the Labour Party in Wales between those who want Wales to take increasing responsibility for its own affairs and those who are more sceptical about, if not exactly hostile to, the devolution settlement moving forward. This difference became very apparent recently not only in the reported "roasting" that Carwyn Jones received from Labour MPs for making a submission to the Silk Commission without first having consulted the wider party, but also in the contrast between Owen Smith's and Carwyn Jones' speeches last weekend.
The difference between those speeches has been widely commented on already, but I thought that this part of the speech from Mark Drakeford provided the clearest and most forceful rebuttal of the idea of Britain as "one nation":
The point of me writing this is not to try and magnify the rift, nor to take political advantage from it. It is to try and persuade people within the Labour Party that it is far more appropriate to see Britain as a collection of nations that share much in common rather than as "one nation". It is not a matter of party politics or ideology. It simply reflects the way that most people on this island see themselves, as the census results show all too clearly.