Dispelling Groundless Scaremongering Myths. I now publish an account by Cllr W. Gwyn Hopkins on the myths perpetrated by irresponsible politicians. We live in a world where all countries are interdependent to varying degrees.
The FIRST MYTH is that Plaid Cymru wishes Wales to become “independent” in the strict sense of the word, i.e., “isolationist”, not engaged in trading with any other country and having no relations with them – “separatism” as our name-calling opponents brand it, with the deceptive purpose of alarming people. This is absolute nonsense. On the contrary, we believe that it is in Wales’ long-term interest to aspire to a “self-governing” status equivalent to that of Malta (population 379,000) and Cyprus (759,000). Both these small countries are members of the EU, the Commonwealth and the UN. They are, of course, very much interdependent with respect to other member states of these organisations. However, they are often referred to as “independent” countries, where the word “independent” is understood to be used as a short, convenient “label” to describe their particular “self-governing” status. This is the accepted legal word for it and in this short paper we use the word “independent” and “independence” in this sense. Plaid Cymru would not dream of trying to impose independence on the people of Wales even if it was possible for it to do so. No political party can do that – it can only happen if, and when, the people of Wales vote for it in a referendum. It is obvious that, at present, the majority of the people of Wales are not in favour of this option (and may never favour it) so that as far as we are concerned “it is on the back-burner”. However, there is a dire need for a political party dedicated to fight for the interests, well-being and prosperity of the people of Wales that gives its undivided loyalty and attention to Wales, unfettered with competing demands from parent parties based at Westminster. Plaid Cymru alone fits this bill, fully justifying its name “The Party of Wales”. The “British” parties most certainly do not.
The SECOND MYTH is that Wales is too small to be independent. As there are 53 independent countries in the Commonwealth with 32 of them (60%) having smaller populations than Wales (2.9 million), this assertion is clearly absurd. Moreover, these 32 countries have become independent from the UK since 1960 and none have since campaigned to revert to their previous “dependent” state nor have any asserted that they cannot afford independence. The same is true of other small states that have in recent years become independent from other imperial powers such as Lithuania (from Russia) and Slovenia (from Serbia).
The THIRD MYTH is that Wales cannot afford to be independent. This myth is often perpetuated in London daily newspapers (published solely for an English readership) and displays a classical imperialist mentality with the clear implication that Wales is subsidised by England. It is never accompanied by any evidence other than one or two highly selective figures that, in isolation, appear to support the myth. There is certainly never any attempt to show a comprehensive, detailed and objective balance sheet of all resources flowing into and out of Wales.
The only attempt to examine the Welsh Economy in a thorough, authoritative, objective and detailed manner was conducted by Edward Nevin, former Professor of Economics at Swansea University (not a member or supporter of Plaid Cymru). It covered the period 1948 – 1962 and the final report, entitled “The Structure of the Welsh Economy” by E. Nevin, A.R.Roe and J.I.Round, was published in 1966. It totally demolished the claim that Wales is subsidised by England and there is no evidence that this position has since changed in any significant way. On the contrary, there would be very significant financial benefits for Wales if it became independent. Like the Irish Republic, the people of Wales would almost certainly choose not to possess exorbitantly expensive nuclear weapons (Trident renewal alone will cost £25bn+) nor have a costly navy or air force and would maintain only a small army for internal security, saving almost all our annual tax contribution of about £2bn to the current UK defence budget. This policy would also mean that none of our young men and women would lose their lives in illegal, disastrous wars on other people’s soil, such as the Iraq war.
There are six large reservoirs in Wales dedicated to supplying England with many millions of gallons of free water daily – an act of state-sanctioned theft. An independent Wales would surely negotiate a fair price for this absolutely vital resource. This would equate to a very substantial annual income. All taxes collected in an independent Wales would go to a Welsh Treasury. These would annually include several £billions in taxes from many large business and industrial organisations based here. An illustration of the extent of this benefit is the fact that £2.5 billion in combined annual taxes are now paid by the “Chevron” refinery in Pembroke and the “Total” site in Milford Haven to the London Treasury (see Western Mail 12/10/2006) - instead of to a Welsh Treasury. Furthermore, it is no accident that all of Western Europe’s small independent countries are considerably more prosperous than Wales – Luxembourg, Norway, Ireland and Andorra are just four of more than a dozen examples. These countries would probably enquire as to the mental state of the questioner if they were asked whether they can afford independence. We are very confident that an independent Wales would become equally prosperous.
Gwyn Hopkins 12/5/2007