Since that historic vote for the creation of the Welsh Assembly in 1997 Wales has changed considerably over the twenty years, but not for the better!
I was 17 years old at the time, turning 18 only a few short months after the referendum. I would have emphatically voted yes if I could have done.
However, the changes that have occurred since have generally taken Wales backwards and not to the promised land of Independence.
I feel ripped off, conned into thinking Wales would benefit from devolution and that we were finally on our way to becoming a fully fledged independent country.
There’ll be a few people out there that will jump to the defence of the Assembly and say without it we wouldn’t have free prescriptions etc.
True, but apart from free prescriptions, which is a bit gimmicky, there’s not a lot else to be truly excited about. There’s nothing radical about plastic bag taxes or cycle tracks etc either.
Some might suggest the Assembly legitimises Wales as a “proper” country and that Wales is taken more seriously now.
I couldn’t disagree more! If that is the best argument for the Assembly, then the Assembly is nothing more than a token, symbolic gesture.
Looking back over the last 20 years it’s hard not to see the Assembly is a symbol shaped like a white elephant.
I’ve always considered Wales as a country. Legitimacy is given by the people not politicians or institutions.
Plaid Cymru, the torch bearers of independence for 90 plus years said devolution would be a stepping stone to independence. Twenty years on we’re no closer to it.
The development of Yes Cymru, Football Fans for Indy etc have done more for the national cause in three years than Plaid ever has.
If Plaid truly had any real aspirations for Welsh independence then Wales could be potentially celebrating a majority vote for independence by now.
The Assembly is only a stepping stone for establishment politicians in establishment parties like Plaid Cymru, ‘Welsh’ Labour, the Tories and of course that bunch of misfits UKIP.
The only one’s benefitting here, amongst others, are the establishment politicians and Cardiff Bay!
Celebrating mediocrity and Failure
Yesterday’s Western Mail reported that plans were afoot to celebrate 20 years of devolution in the summer.
Now I like a good party, but there’s nothing worth celebrating where devolution is concerned and I probably won’t be attending this party. Oh well, how sad, nevermind I hear some cry out.
The Labour Welsh government supported by Plaid have overseen the decline of our schools and education system.
They’ve overseen the decline of our NHS services, despite the best efforts of front-line staff, the nurses and doctors etc to deliver a service fit for the 21st century.
Amid overwhelming bureaucracy and overpaid consultants etc, their hard work and dedication is terminally undermined by working in a system designed to fail.
Failure is nothing to celebrate!
Lack of Ambition and not Enough Action
Llwydd of the Assembly, Elin Jones was quoted in the Western Mail article as saying
“This anniversary gives a unique opportunity to reflect on how much Wales has changed in the past 20 years and the impact it has had on our lives. In doing so we have the chance to focus on the future. Through this programme of events our aim is to begin a new dialogue with people across the country about their ambitions for Wales and how the Assembly, the home of Welsh democracy, can help deliver that.”
This just says it all really. No plan but more talk. When are we going to see more action?
There’s an old saying that goes, ‘actions speak louder than words’
Plaids actions should speak volumes to those who want to see an Independent Wales. They’re not interested as they’ve become too comfortable in their cosy consensus with Labour.
Adam Price can say the word Independence and make as many demands on Westminster as much as he likes but until he comes up with a concrete plan for the national cause, it’s all talk.
Plaid are so full of former Labour supporters, voters and ex -members now that they’ll vote down any plans for any serious shot at holding a referendum on independence.
The Damning Verdict
Well, devolution under the mismanagement of ‘Welsh’ Labour and Plaid has been a total disaster for Wales.
We were duped, conned, had the wool pulled over our eyes about the benefits that devolution would bring.
Maybe I’m being a little hard on devolution here, as it’s the parties that we have voted for that have mismanaged devolution.
Devolution is a process not an event as they say but the process has been used, abused, mismanaged to feather the nests of the political “elite” and now offers no benefit to Wales.
The same pantomime plays out in the Senedd as it does in the monolithic waste of money that is Westminster. At eachothers throats in front of the public but doing deals behind closed doors, during lunch or over a pint.
There’s little wonder that we see political parties called Abolish the Welsh Assembly pop up and see UKIP ‘Wales’ change tack and want rid of the Assembly by 2024.
So much for a new type of politics.
So Where Next?
So, where do we go from here? Who knows! But one thing’s for certain, if we continue voting for the same century old parties, any thoughts of independence should be well and truly put to bed.
Devolution in a Welsh context has taken us as far as it can go. The process is grinding to a halt despite some powers being transferred down the M4 to and from London.
Ein Gwlad will continue to call for powers to be devolved however, as that’s the best course of action under the current circumstances. But independence will always be our primary objective.
Despite the many flaws and issues with the Assembly, there’s at least one good thing to say about it which is that it’s a barrier between Wales and Westminster, with the right party in power it can protect Wales from the worst of Westminster.
What we need to do is change our voting habits, so that we put people and parties in to the Assembly that have Wales and what’s best for the people of Wales as their primary focus.
The establishment parties aren’t interested in what’s best for our nation or the people that live here.
Do something different in 2021, be bold and positive and put your mark next to Ein Gwlad candidates and make devolution work for us as a country.
Only Ein Gwlad can deliver independence and prosperity for the people of Wales.
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.