How Labour paved the way for the Tories to smash devolution

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) in yesterday’s speech broadcast on BBC One. Mark Drakeford (right), picture by the Welsh Government.

Adam Price, Leader of Plaid Cymru

Time and time again Plaid Cymru have warned that the Conservative Government’s promises to respect devolution were not to be trusted. This week, they have sadly proven us right with the introduction of the Internal Market Bill.

This proposed law is not just a power grab, but a destruction of two decades of devolution.

It will give the Tories a veto over the Senedd’s attempts to protect our NHS against privatisation through damaging trade deals.

It will mean that Wales will be powerless to stop chlorinated chicken from flooding our supermarkets if the Tories get the deal they so desperately want with Trump’s America.

It will allow Dominic Cummings to bypass our democratically elected Senedd with whatever madcap idea he wants to impose on Wales, regardless of whether we want it or not.

Sadly, I know for many of us this attack on Welsh democracy is not a surprise.

Early in 2018, Plaid Cymru presented proposals for a ‘Continuity Bill’ which would protect Welsh democracy against an attack such as the one we see today. In a strong statement that Westminster had to respect Wales’s sovereignty, the proposal gathered cross-party support and was passed by the then Welsh Assembly.

A few months later, the Welsh Labour party repealed this safeguard, dismissing it as no longer necessary.

At the time we called it what it was – constitutional Kamikaze. But Labour blindly put their faith in the belief that the Union can deliver for Wales. Despite decades of Westminster Governments failing to address wealth inequality across the UK, they backed Westminster not Wales.

 

Truth

Now that the penny has finally dropped, the Welsh Labour Government is rightly angry and have stated that it will not give consent to the Internal Market Bill. Unfortunately, their words are too little, too late.

They have helpfully paved the way for Westminster, ignoring all the warning signs Plaid Cymru gave. And now the Tory Government’s road to smashing devolution is clear.

Labour is nervous, and they are right to be. After mostly squandering the opportunity devolution offers to deliver genuine change, they now face the very dangerous reality of a Tory Government who have their sight firmly set on ripping up devolution.

The problem is, of course, that we cannot trust the Tories to deliver real change any more than we can Labour.

This UK Government governs in gimmicks. They promised to get Brexit done, without mentioning the fact that they would have to break international law to do so. They promised a world-beating coronavirus app, but it is nowhere in sight. They have now promised tests for all, but conveniently forgot to mention that you would have to travel 200 miles to get it.

There is of course another way. Unlike Welsh Labour, I have never shied away from stating the obvious truth – the Union does not work for Wales. Fundamentally, it has delivered one of the most unequal states in the world and its insular and backwards-looking politics has left Wales with some of the poorest regions in Europe.

Resist

The UK Government are about to snatch the powers two devolution referendums secured, Labour have shown that they are not up to the job of defending Wales.

In the months to come, we can choose to show the unionists parties that they have taken Wales for granted for the last time.

We can choose a different path for Wales, one of autonomy, and one where our decisions aren’t overruled by a government that has never had our best interests at heart. We can choose independence.

Independence is the only way we can protect Welsh democracy. Without a pro-independence government in Cardiff, Westminster will continue to bully Wales.

A pro-independence government in the Senedd will empower us to resist Westminster’s attacks on our democracy, and will set about the change that will ultimately make us immune to their toxicity and the effects their contempt for our nation.

I will back Wales not Westminster every time. I hope that you too will stand with me.

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