Wales politics

How a Scottish vote for independence could impact on Wales

The one-year-to-go moment ahead of the Scottish referendum may be purely symbolic but it is important nevertheless.

While the debates about sterling, oil and gas revenues and the rest have been raging in Scotland for months, today may be the moment when the rest of the world realises what is at stake.

I've been in Edinburgh and Glasgow for a few days and what is striking is how many people appear to be genuinely undecided.

Strategists behind the Yes Scotland campaign talk about the terms chunking and nudging. Chunking means breaking up the arguments into the kind of chunks people can get their heads around and nudging means pushing people up a scale towards voting yes.

They claim that for many the process of voting yes will be a gradual one as they go through the arguments during the next 12 months.

Image caption Could Wales get more powers as a result of a no vote?

There will always be the core unionist vote, particularly among the older generation, and there will always be the core nationalist vote who will be beating the doors down at five to seven on the morning of 18 September 2014, for their once in a generation moment.

Most of the polls are showing roughly a 60/40 split supporting a No vote but both sides acknowledge there is a huge block of potential swing voters in the middle.

Alistair Darling, the chairman of the cross-party Better Together Campaign, believes it could be as many as a million and a half. And no-one knows the answer about when they will eventually make up their minds to vote. It could be very late in the day.

The expectation is that turnout will be above 70%.

National impact

And what about Wales in all of this?

Clearly, the fate of Wales is not the subject of wide discussions but both sides have their views on what a yes vote could mean for the rest of the UK.

Blair Jenkins, who runs the Yes Campaign, told me it could awaken similar hopes among nationalists in Wales while the Better Together Campaign points to Wales as an example of devolution working because it doesn't involve independence.

If there's a no vote then it's difficult to calculate with any certainty what that could mean. If it's a narrow no victory then there will be pressure for more powers to be given to Scotland which inevitably will lead to pressure for some of those to be passed on to Wales as well.

At the centre of it will be the future viability of the Barnett formula, which is used to calculate how much government revenue is passed to the UK nations from Westminster.

Tuesday's speech by the First Minister Carwyn Jones calling for a more concrete devolved settlement could be seen as him taking a strong position, knowing that the vote in Scotland provides an opportunity for Wales to win more powers within a devolved structure.

'Project fear'

The SNP believes it has a compelling argument which gives the Scottish people the opportunity to be in charge of their own destinies, particularly at a time when the Conservatives are in power at Westminster introducing cuts in welfare.

Labour politicians in Scotland will be focusing much of their attention on the financial concerns people have over pensions and the general affordability of independence.

Better Together has been characterised as "project fear" and being too negative. It strongly denies this, saying there's nothing negative about asking difficult questions about the break up of the United Kingdom after 300 years.

And, of course, they are up against the popularity of the First Minister Alex Salmond which one expert described as being "remarkably high" considering the SNP has been in government in Scotland for a number of years.

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