Joining the conversation is ...


"Whatever happens in 2014, the constitutional status quo is unsustainable."

It's not the first time by any means that Carwyn Jones has looked to big events in Scotland and spelled out that come the referendum, whatever the answer, the questions and implications for Wales will be huge. Scotland is about to determine its own future. Wales will watch, knowing that whatever Scotland decides, the impact on where the UK goes from here, Wales included, will be profound.

So there it is again from Carwyn Jones, a bid to involve Wales in the conversation happening between London and Edinburgh, a warning that the time to start working on answers and solutions is now, before the referendum, not in the aftermath of a bruising campaign. As I reported last week, David Cameron is up for the debate. But the time to have it, he says, is not now. The time to have it is if Scotland votes no to independence.

The First Minister of Wales knows what he wants to happen in 2014. He wants the people of Scotland to do just that - vote no. For what it's worth, he's confident they will. Why? Because "we are stronger together than we would ever be apart". That's what he thinks and that's what he thinks voters in Scotland will conclude as well. The First Minister of Scotland and his team will spend the next two years persuading them otherwise.

So what are the questions that Carwyn Jones wants asked?

The 'English elephant' as Rhodri Morgan had it already makes up 85% of the UK. Without the Scottish 'flea' make that 91%. How does Wales fare then? Is its voice enhanced, or does it become fainter? Does it have more influence, or less? With Scotland gone, does it get a larger share of the money, or less. What's the new deal?

And here's a key question: how does England respond? Does it run shy of devolution and its implications? Does it become more, or less, careful?

What if Scotland votes no? Does the political architecture of the UK still change fundamentally? It may be less clear cut but does it, perhaps, end up looking like a messy amalgam of nations and cities that strike their own deals over 'more' devolution? What happens to fiscal powers? What happens to Wales in this scenario? The one answer that makes no sense, says Carwyn Jones, is nothing:

"I would regret enormously any decision by the Scots to opt for independence. However, as I have made clear, a major change in Scotland's relationship with the rest of Britain - or its separation from the rest of the UK - would require a radical reconsideration of Wales' constitutional relationship within a re-defined United Kingdom ...

"So, rather than simply allow events in Scotland to unfold, and to react passively to whatever happens when it happens, I believe that political and civil society across the UK should be talking now about what kind of UK we want to see".

And here comes that line: "Whatever happens in 2014, the constitutional status quo is unsustainable."


Betsan Powys Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Re 35


    Is illness different in the rest of the US and unique in Canada?
    Is the need for a decent education unique to India?
    What are the differing needs of the elderly in Belgium when compared with the elderly in France?

    That's your logic. Now, do you understand? Probably not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    #45 ' I am a liberal who believes in a bilingual Wales '
    The trouble is , Llyn, that our concepts of what a bilingual Wales might sound like may well differ. Do we mean one where people are free to use whichever language they find appropriate ? Or one where the majority pay for having everything produced in two languages? Or positive discrimination in favour of the weaker?

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I agree John Tyler - “nationalism is last years fashion...”. Those far-right nationalist parties who rail against immigration, multiculturalism, the EU and demand a centralist state, namely the BNP and UKIP, are becoming more and more reviled. Like you John I am a liberal who believes in a bilingual Wales as part of a multicultural, federal UK which is at the heart of the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Looking at our tiny island and at European history - it appears that nationalism always rises when economic times are troubled.

    The only benefit of division are those who feed off division. Extrapolate that by those who don't question their leaders/representatives who will tell lies to remain in power and keep their cosy tax-funded salaries, allowances/expenses. Yet never question the Whip?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    #42 coram-populo-2010

    You mean they would not want to upset a lot of employers, who we are currently subsidising, by paying benefits to employees getting wages below living wage.


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