Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
With the COVID-19 crisis proving the incompetence of the English government, it’s time for the nations of the United Kingdom to start considering the option of Independence. In Scotland, this is already the case. In the 2019 General Election, SNP saw an overwhelming majority and recent surveys show that the majority of Scots support independence. With Scotland already moving away from the union, it is worth considering the benefits of Wales following suit.
Wales is being financially drained by Westminster on projects which have no direct benefit for them. In the 1950s the Welsh GDP was twice as big as Ireland’s, now the Republic of Ireland’s economy is 4 times the size of Wales. Westminster investment has a strong history of focusing primarily on English gain, which has had a negative impact on Wales. For example, the HS2 project proposes a high-speed train that will run from Birmingham to London and is predicted to cost around £106 billion. While this scheme was being put into place, the plans to electrify the Cardiff to Swansea route were ditched. Wales doesn’t even have rail links from north to south, despite the plans to invest in high-speed train links elsewhere. Along with this, the UK government gave the go-ahead for the third Heathrow runway while simultaneously rejecting the Swansea tidal lagoon, which would provide renewable energy in Wales. As an independent country, Wales could benefit from focusing it’s investment domestically and would no longer require support from Westminster for projects which would directly benefit Welsh people.
Not only is Westminster preventing Welsh improvement and investment, but it is also undemocratic. Wales has had an overwhelming Labour majority in General Elections since 1922 however, out of the 27 General Elections since 1922, Labour has only won 10. Despite Wales constantly voting against them, a Tory government has ruled over Wales for most of the time since 1922. Even though devolution exists in Wales, the majority of the decisions on the country come from an unelected party. Criminal justice, for example, despite even being devolved in Manchester, is not yet devolved in Wales.
Westminster is not only guilty of undemocratic control and the economic draining of Wales but is also responsible for several big scale destructions across the country. There are two major examples of this in Welsh history. Firstly, the drowning of the village of Capel Celyn to supply water to Liverpool. Liverpool City Council acquired an Act of Parliament for this action, without allowing the Welsh local authorities or the villagers themselves any say in the matter. When the Tryweryn valley was flooded in 1965, 48 out of the 67 who lived in the Valley lost their homes. It was the last Welsh-only speaking community. Secondly, there is responsible the Aberfan disaster. Recently brought to peoples attentions in Netflix’s The Crown, the Aberfan disaster saw 116 children and 28 adults die when a spoil tip collapsed, engulfing Pantglas Junior School. There had been a number of concerns about the tip reported to the National Coal Board, whose members were appointed by the Minster of Power; these concerns were all ignored.
Westminster rule doesn’t work – independence does. Independence is the only way to finally control the countries own investment, development and help it to move forward. If not now, then when?