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."

Discuss.

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

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 47.

    Re 35

    Decentjohn,

    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
    +2

    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
    0

    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
    +1

    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
    +1

    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.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 42.

    @41 'Indy2010'
    ~~
    A living wage is an issue that no devolved government representatives, nor Westminster will address. They also know the National Minimum wage is too low, and are not prepared to live on it themselves. Hypocrites.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 41.

    The London poverty statistics aired earlier are based on a London Living Wage, £8.30 an hour there are a lot of people in Wales would like that who currently get the NMW £6.19 per hour.

    How many Starbuck employess get the London living wage out of the tax they are avoiding.

    Incidentally Wales Living Wage £7.20 only being paid by some Councils at present.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 40.

    #39 Federalism as the stable state of Devo-Max.
    I think not. The Celtic Fringe (Wales, Scots, NI) outvote England and push through a Salmond financial settlement, where the Celt politicians dole out the pork from the barrel and England pays for it all. Either the English politicians would change it, or England would change the politicians.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 39.

    Carwyn Jones is, of course, absolutely correct. The UK's days as a unitary state are coming to an end; it's either federalism (the stable, constitutional form of devomax) or nation states all round. Absolute, direct rule of all home nations from London is essentially dead (if not yet official), just as dead as absolute rule of the UK from Brussels/Strasbourg would be (who would want that?).

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 38.

    @36 'Boxer_the_Horse'
    ~~
    Yes, Boxer, Animal Farm is a warning. Promise from oppression by those who ultimately go on to milk it, plus collude with it via their tax-payer funded salaries and allowance snouts?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 37.

    'Joining the conversation' is the title of Betsan's thoughtful piece.

    It is the duty of journalists and the population to challenge their ministers and their representatives. As it stands, in Wales, it's not clear what the Welsh Assembly members are earning in salary or claiming in many allowances to maintain their own little kingdoms at the expense of Welsh tax-payers?

    Time to publish above?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 36.

    #28 The problem has always been that some in Wales think of Wales as being an independent Nation, that talks to England on equal terms. Most in England think of Wales, if they think of it at all, as a small vociferous minority, rather like Yorkshire. If there were a Federal assembly, Wales would like one nation = one vote. England would insist on weighting: Wales 1 vote; England 60 votes.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    31 In what way exactly do we have different needs and different problems.

    Is illness different in the rest of the UK and unique in Wales?
    Is the need for a decent education unique to Wales?
    What are the differing needs of the elderly in Scotland when compared withe the elderly in Wales?
    The consquence of Welsh solutions to common problems is the decline of standards in services in Wales

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 34.

    (31)
    No, if anything is unsustainable it is this ridiculous, and divisive assembly.

    It has badly screwed up every single aspect of government.The 5p plastic bag being their great one "great" success.

    "Spend it but don't let on where it goes" is the assembly mantra.

    If you are young, with a family and a skill/trade get out while you can. Wales has had it...anywhere else would be an improvement.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 33.

    Alf - thanks on your thoughts on relative and absolute poverty. Of course absolute poverty is a contrived measure. If I set the income level at £30k then 95% of Wales is living poverty. Really ! The debate started when Mab compared Wales to Montenegro. The difference in living standards is stark and serves to demonstrate that Mab has no grasp of what independence would mean

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 32.

    #31, annieavatar, you might like to explain exactly how different, because for the life of me, I do not see any .........

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 31.

    "Whatever happens in 2014, the constitutional status quo is unsustainable." So true. We are different, with different needs and problems, and each nation within the UK needs its own solution, including England. The spin off from the Scottish question is that the powers in Westminster at least now know:
    1 - Scotland is different from England
    2 - Wales exists,an unique country in the UK makeup.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 30.

    #17 sorry late back in to the debate,20% londoners here on bbc news this morning.20% of 20mil = 4mil more than our population,but i think we have more oppurtunity to add value to our domestic profit without to much being exported trans national to the stockmarkets in london.and it has been rumoured that they make do the rat and move over to Dublin,coupled with windpower from eire first stop Cymru

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 29.

    Mab as per the usual you seem to ingnore wider realities and as you have brough into Welsh domain Serbia & the former Yougoslavia perhaps you should research the facts - Suggest for starters you read James Bisset's statements (The Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia just before the break up): http://www.emperors-clothes.com/articles/bisset/bisset.htm

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 28.

    #22, Boxer, your "You cannot ally a nation of 3M with a nation of 60M and keep both entirely happy."

    But if the peoples join together everyone can be happy .... that would be Great Britain.

    There are always a few exceptions of course .......... they speak of persecution ?

 

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