Sunday, 19 August 2007

Reprinted from the "Western Mail" - the Debate continues

Blair's gaffe over Plaid policy

Jan 17 2007


Western Mail

TONY BLAIR yesterday made what many will see as a gaffe by suggesting that Plaid Cymru had virtually given up on its policy of Welsh independence.

The Prime Minister’s comment at his monthly press conference appeared to be at odds with Welsh Labour’s strategy of portraying Plaid as a party that would take Wales out of the UK.
Mr Blair defended the current constitutional settlement as “the most sensible way to organise our future”.
He then told reporters, “You even have a situation now where in Wales I think the Welsh nationalists have virtually given up on separation as their issue.”
He added, “You look around the world, most countries where you have different nationalities within one country have worked out a system where you do have one national parliament and separate devolved parliaments. That seems to me to be the sensible way to go.

“It would be an incredibly regressive and reactionary step to break [the Union] apart now.”
Labour has drawn criticism for not organising any specific commemoration for the 300th anniversary of the union between Scotland and England. MPs and VIPs were invited to an event last night by Gordon Brown, but the Chancellor himself was not present.
Mr Blair said the issue was “not about fireworks, but about argument”. He also warned against any attempt by the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum on independence.
“I think the reality is that if Scotland ends up with an independence Bill and referendums on Scottish independence, then you are just going to create a situation of enormous uncertainty and instability,” he said. “I can’t believe that people want that. Even the prospect of such a thing is going to damage economic confidence.”

Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones denied that the party had completely junked its constitutional aspirations.
After launching Plaid’s pre-manifesto document in Cardiff Bay, he told the Western Mail, “Close to the end of the next term, we want to see a referendum on having full powers devolved, Scottish style. We have always understood that while the long-term aim of the party is independence, we want to see constitutional change taking place incrementally. The next stage is a Scottish-style Parliament.
“We also want to make it clear that we understand that constitutional change for many people isn’t a raison d’etre. “They want to see constitutional change so that they can do things – and that’s always been my personal view. It’s not an end in itself, it’s a vehicle to do things.”
Asked how far in the future “long term” might be, Mr Jones said, “Nobody knows. The reality about constitutional change is that circumstances might change quickly. It may take a long time to evolve, but I’m quite relaxed about that.” Asked for his view of the Union, Mr Jones said, “I think the problem with the current settlement is that the unanswered issue is England. It doesn’t surprise me to find that the English people feel they need their own Parliament. I believe that is the most logical step, because you cannot continue to have Scottish and Welsh MPs voting on matters which relate only to England, while English MPs cannot vote on the health service and education in Scotland and Wales.
“The problem for the Labour Party is that once that happens, it’s nothing to do with constitutional change, it’s about power – and what the Labour Party sees is that, at least in the short term, an English Parliament would destroy its capacity to rule England. So it wrecks them rather than wrecks the Union.”
Mr Jones said he thought Gordon Brown’s promotion of Britishness was outdated. He said, “Devolution has changed people’s view of themselves. The number of people who describe themselves as only British rather than, say, ‘British and Welsh’ has gone down substantially since devolution. I consider myself to be Welsh primarily and I think the reason for that is I identify very strongly with Wales as a nation, its place in the world, and I want to see that flourish.”

5 comments:

A Brummie said...

As an English nationalist I want the same as you.

Plaid in coalition with Labour though - that was very disappointing.

alanindyfed said...

Have you investigated the reasons for coalition with Labour? This was to show the Welsh people that Plaid Cymru is capable of governing.
Secondly, it provides the opportunity for Plaid's policies to be delivered, a fundamental one being the steps towards a Welsh Parliament.

alanindyfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If New Labour had managed to fob off England with regional assemblies, I don't think they would have worried about more powers for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. They are still trying to put the English into a box of their(new labour) own liking with unitary authorities.They will fail.
They are trying to maintain the concept of britain in europe at all costs. Once an English political dimension is established England will pull out of the eu.
that is what it's all about

alanindyfed said...

The Celtic nations will then need to have a Conversation about their EU stance and relationship with England.
Pan-Celtic unity would be a good start.