Devolution in a Welsh context began sooner than most people think, the roots of political devolution can be traced to the end of the 19th Century when Cymru Fydd (Young Wales) was established to promote the objectives of the Liberal Party in Wales and to promote ‘Home Rule’. Although Cymru Rydd didn’t last too long, however.
The Sunday Closing Act of 1881 that was the first Act of Parliament that applied to Wales only, followed by the Wales Intermediate Education Act of 1889.
Another six Acts in Parliament relating to Wales only, were passed from 1889 until 1998 where the Government of Wales 1998 Act was passed after the Devolution referendum the previous year.
Law Making powers without interference.
2011 was the year when the devolution we recognise today began. It’s the time when the Welsh Assembly gained primary lawmaking powers without the interference from Westminster or Whitehall. It was the first time in 800 years where Wales had primary lawmaking powers over it’s own affairs.
Since then it’s taken seven years to implement some of the recomendations from parts one and two of the Silk Commission that was published in 2014.
The current Wales Act allows Wales powers of taxation for the first time in centuries. It has also opened the door to a power grab by Westminster that was helped along by the Labour Welsh Goverment when they gave away powers, albeit for seven years.
Slow and Painful
Looking at the devolution timeline, it’s quite easy to see that it takes years for anything meaningful to come Wales’ way in terms of more powers. There’s more chance of getting blood out of a stone than successfully gaining more powers for the Assembly on Wales’ terms and how Wales wants them.
We are literally fighting over the scraps off Westminsters table! Devolution is so painfully slow, maybe deliberately so as Welsh labour are notoriously shy when it comes taking real responsibillity.
2017 marked the start of the move to a reserved powers model, this was meant to stop the constant battles between Westiminster and the Assembly about who has powers over the “grey areas” of devolution.
The perception that Westminster effected a power grab through the Wales Act, by re-reserving certain powers, has led many to argue that it is attempting the same through Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will hand back to UK ministers powers to ‘freeze’ devolved competence in certain areas.
The likelihood that the Wales Act 2017 will be a “lasting devolution settlement for Wales” is wishful thinking. It promises to be nothing but the lasting settlement that was hoped for.
The words of Ron Davies 20 years ago “devolution is a process, not an event” were quite right. Devolution was a process but that process has come to an end.
I think it’s time we stopped wasting all our energy on slowly and painfully trying to claw our way through devolution. I fear by the time we get to a situation where we could seek independence, it will be too late!
If its the power to set Wales on a course of its own making that we want and need, then, we won’t get it through devolution. We have to focus our energies into a campaign for outright independence as soon as is practicable.
Wales needs protecting now, not in 20 years time when it’s too late. Lets grasp that nettle, grab the bull by the horns and put our energies into campaigning for our independence. By the time devolution gets us to that point when Wales is ready to ask that question, there might not be a Wales left.
Come and join Ein GWLAD, the only party putting independence to the forefront of politics in Wales. Join us and help us free Wales from Westminsters shackles.
Devolution has run its course, lets set our own today!
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on the Gwlad Gwlad News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background, I say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’ll be the first to put my hand up.