Appease Welsh Nationalism at the Union’s Peril

First Minister Mark Drakeford’s recent comments that he supported ‘Welsh Home Rule’, is a clear demonstration that Labour can no longer be regarded as a genuinely UK Unionist party. The same goes for the Conservatives, who have conveniently forgotten that their full name is the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’! By constantly banging on about ‘making Devolution work for Wales’ and offering only ‘cosmetic surgery’ such as reducing ‘Senedd waste’ by around £250,000 from the nearly £60 million a year it takes to run the Assembly, the Tories, just like Reform UK, are only willing to tinker around the edges of the twenty year plus failed Blairite Welsh Devolution project.

There has been a seismic shift in Welsh politics over the past twenty years or so. Mark Drakeford’s Labour Party is now, to all purposes, adopting the position of the Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Nationalist Party Plaid Cymru during the early years of Welsh Devolution from the late 1990s to the end of the first decade of the new millennium, of campaigning for the Senedd to acquire new powers by stealth. This would, in their view, then lead to some form of Federal Britain, where each constituent part of the UK would have the constitutional right to secede from the Union. This approach, in reality, amounts to ‘opening the door’ to some form of ‘soft Welsh independence’ and, in my opinion, anyone who supports such a constitutional change is guilty of betraying the Union.

The Welsh Conservatives have, very sadly, ‘gone native’ through enjoying the perks of the Senedd ‘gravy train’, and to all intents and purposes now adopt the position once held by the Labour Party during the pre-Mark Drakeford era of embracing Devolution in the hope that this approach would ‘kill off’ any allegedly growing desire for Welsh independence. After all, it was the UK Conservative Governments of David Cameron and Theresa May, fully supported by the Welsh Conservative Assembly Group, which granted the Senedd tax-varying and tax-raising powers in 2014 and 2017 respectively.

All of this appeasement of Welsh Nationalism by Welsh Labour and the Welsh Conservatives has only encouraged Plaid Cymru to, just like the SNP has done in Scotland, adopt an aggressively separatist pro-Welsh independence political agenda. Plaid leader, Adam Price, now openly talks about his number one political objective of removing Wales from the UK Union by 2030, something which none of his predecessors in that position were willing to declare publicly.

Patriotic Welsh Unionists from across the political spectrum now need to consider the best ways of promoting the very positive merits of Wales remaining an integral part of the UK, one of the most successful political and economic Union of Nations in history. If this can be done successfully, the Welsh Nationalist separatists of Plaid and their Yes Cymru ‘storm troopers’ can be exiled to the fringes of Welsh politics - where they rightly belong.

As a “Just Say No” co-ordinator against having a Welsh Assembly during the 1997 Welsh Devolution Referendum and someone who strongly opposes the increasingly aggressive and socially divisive Welsh Nationalism, personified by Yes Cymru, which is responsible for creating division and bad feeling within our communities, I now wish to present some British Unionist fundamentals to inspire every effort to save Wales from the catastrophe of Welsh independence.

Britain is a Nation in its own right, and not just a political state. The social, cultural, regal and political Unions created it into a Nation. Britain is our country, as much as Wales is our country, and we do not want to see it broken-up.

Britain united is greater than the sum of its parts. The constituent parts of Britain are related as a family, which means that it’s not appropriate for one part to put itself first without due regard to the other members. No part of Britain should be put before the common good of all. A problem in any part of Britain concerns everyone and the challenges which confront us throughout these Islands are most effectively resolved by working together.

Wales within a united Britain is a better place to live, socially and economically, and with greater opportunity for each of us, than a Wales separated. Wales within a united Britain makes global, strategic and diplomatic sense. It’s also far more influential internationally, than a Wales separated.

Britain is the best Nation within which to accommodate diverse identities. It’s big enough to allow for Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish identities, and all the variations within them to exist.

Britain is an evolving organism tending naturally towards unity, not spinning out of control towards separation. Britain, however, is a work in progress. There wasn’t any time when we could say, “This was the perfect Union” and “This was the perfect Britain”. It is something that we are always building together. It is an ideal we seek to work towards. Each day, we write a page in our endless history as an Island Nation.

Wales Forever, Britain Together.

Cymru am Byth, Prydain yn Un.

Dr Felix Aubel

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