The Scotland debate in Wales

 

If I think back a year, I'm not sure how I expected the debate around the Scottish independence referendum to play out in Wales.

But in reality it has bubbled away quietly under the surface, rather than being a headline-grabbing point of discussion.

Even Plaid hasn't spoken about it hugely, other than obviously to express support for the yes camp.

On one level you'd have thought it would have tried to capitalise on such an historic occasion.

Internally for the party, I suspect events in Scotland have helped motivate grassroots members but externally there's been no jumping on the bandwagon.

Instead, it wants to get to the situation which the SNP has found itself in, which is primarily as a party that offers a realistic alternative to Labour for voters who may not even necessarily believe in independence.

Gas and oil reserves

The maths about independence in Scotland is hotly debated, particularly in relation to gas and oil reserves.

That debate has not happened here partly because of the black hole that would exist in Wales' annual finances in the event of independence.

The economist Gerry Holtham has put it at around £12bn. Here's the rough breakdown: the Welsh Government spends £15bn, the UK Government spends around £10bn in social security payments in Wales and there is £5bn on top if you take into account Wales's share of spending in areas like defence. The tax take is around £18bn.

Tale of two parties

Plaid had virtually the same share of the vote in the first Assembly elections in 1999 as the SNP. Since then it's been a tale of two parties.

Plaid has had one spell in coalition with Labour but now lies third in the number of AMs behind Labour and the Conservatives.

Meanwhile the SNP is in Government at the Scottish Parliament and is now coming to the end of an independence referendum.

The reasons for the difference in fortunes are many and varied.

Here are a few: the lack of an Alex Salmond-type leader, the demise of Labour in Scotland compared with the party's grip on power in Wales and the large fluid border with England.

Away from Plaid, how has the First Minister handled the Scottish referendum?

Trident submarine

He was criticised for one intervention when he said he'd welcome the Trident submarine base moving from Faslane to Milford Haven.

Plaid's Jonathan Edwards said nukes and liquified petroleum gas don't go together and we haven't heard much since of the First Minister's desire to bring nuclear weapons to Pembrokeshire.

He did go to Scotland to bang the drum for the union, also claiming that he would veto a currency union saying he would want a say on such an arrangement.

The trip to Scotland was something David Cameron urged him to do. The idea of course was that the unionist message from a Celtic cousin would have more traction that one from an old Etonian Prime Minister.

Since then he has consistently used the referendum to call for a constitutional convention, talking about the ad hoc nature of the way that powers are being devolved.

It's this rather than a call for more powers for Wales which has been the main focus of his comments.

Interestingly over the past 12 months, the main political story in Wales has not been constitutional change but instead a very different story about the standards of public service delivery, compared with England.

That reminds me of a comment from Rhodri Morgan who once told me that one of the main differences between Wales and Scotland was that Wales compares itself with England, while in Scotland that is not a consideration.

Wales is not Scotland-lite and this campaign has reinforced that point.

 
Nick Servini Article written by Nick Servini Nick Servini Political editor, Wales

David Cameron kicks off Nato summit in Wales

There surely could not have been a better day for the defence firm General Dynamics in Wales - the prime minister announcing their major new contract ahead of the Nato summit in Newport.

Read full article

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

Comments 5 of 50

 

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.