Why doesn’t Westminster just ditch Wales?
Gareth Ceidiog Hughes
The First Minister has recently suggested that successive UK Government have viewed Wales as “ungrateful and ever-demanding subsidy junkies”.
If Mark Drakeford’s analysis is correct, and I suspect that it very much is, then it raises an interesting question, which is why doesn’t Westminster just ditch these burdensome Celts?
Why doesn’t it unburden the English taxpayer and kick these uppity little scroungers from the Celtic fringe to the kurb? What incentive is there at all to keep Wales in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
Forgive me if I sound too cynical when I tell you that I don’t believe that it is out of an overwhelming sense of generosity. No, it is not an overflow of the milk of human kindness, in my estimation.
So if these aren’t the reasons then what are they?
Many of these answers to this question can be found in Strength in Union, a collection of essays by an array of Conservatives on the rather touchy subject preventing the UK from breaking up.
It is a fascinating cocktail of pomposity and anxiety. Oh boy do they know they’re in trouble. But they can’t stop themselves from being ridiculous as well as patronising towards Wales despite it being a hindrance rather than a help to their ultimate aim.
Theresa May comparing being Welsh to being a Yorkshireman was a highlight. But my favourite claim in the magnum opus was that Wales benefits a great deal from Kensington travel agents.
The nub of it is this. They are frightened of losing their status on the world stage.
Essentially they believe Wales exists to augment, to buttress, to enhance England’s power and influence. A loss of Wales would be a loss of face. They do not say that of course. But that is the subtext.
UN Security Council
There is much talk of the UK’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council. They fear losing the UK’s permanent seat on the body and the veto that comes with it.
It is framed as something Scotland could lose in an essay by Lord Hague of Richmond. But then we get to the rub. He said: “So too would the rest of the UK’s influence at the UN wane in the event of Scottish independence.”
That seat, which let’s face it, Wales and Scotland have pretty much no control over, makes the UK feel like a big player on the world stage. It is not merely a practical instrument for shaping world affairs, though that it is. It is a status symbol. The UK sits on the Security Council alongside the US, France, Russia, and China.
The body was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the British still controlled a vast empire. At that time, Britain could reasonably claim to be a world power. There are now newer and bigger kids on the block such as India. A reduction in Westminster’s territory would enhance their claim to the seat.
The UK clings on to it as a bankrupt aristocrat might hang on to a hereditary title. It is vestige of former its former glory. If the title is taken away, then what else is left?
Nuclear subs is also framed as something the Scots could lose despite the SNP trying to actively get rid of them both for moral reasons and because of the substantial price tag.
But again, Westminster is not worried about Scotland losing its nukes. Westminster is worried about Westminster losing its nukes. These are also a status symbol. The Westminster establishment rather likes being part of the nuclear club and would feel it keenly were to lose its membership because it could no longer afford the fees.
‘Saying the quiet bit out loud’
In an astonishing instance of saying the quiet bit out loud, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley suggested loss of Welsh troops “would diminish” the “military capabilities” of England.
Wales contributes a disproportionate amount the British Armed Forces and gets very little in return.
The First Minister told the Senedd recently that Wales provides nearly twice its population share in terms of armed forces personnel “yet we have half our population share in terms of the basing strategy of the armed forces.”
He said Wales has 5% of the UK’s population, provides 9% of the UK’s service personnel, but added that only 2.5% of them are based in Wales.
We put more in and get less out.
The trick that is pulled in this collection of essays is to conflate Westminster’s interests with that of Wales and Scotland. They do not necessarily align and are quite often in direct opposition.
Westminster may well wield more influence because it controls Wales. But in whose interest is that influence wielded? Is it ours, or theirs? Should we exist merely to make them feel more important?
Westminster may not care about Wales, but it does care deeply about its own status on the world stage. Were we to leave, it knows that it would be diminished.
The status of Wales on the other hand could be greatly enhanced at its expense.
They couldn’t allow the Welsh to do that, could they…?
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England, over many centuries, often used mercenaries to fight their wars. Waterloo is a prime example. I imagine the military do not keep statistics to show which of the four countries in THE Union suffer the most casualties on behalf of the English Crown. I suspect far fewer Englishmen die for their country than soldiers from the Celtic countries.
I agree, they fear the break-up of the UK will lead to a loss of face and their imagined influence around the world. However, that loss of influence has already happened and with brexit and renegading on trade deals that international influence has greatly declined further. There is no reason why the British Isles can not still be an influence around the world as a collection of independent countries. After all that is what the EU is. The thing is, they fear as much about the loss of control across these lands as they do regarding the loss of face.… Read more »
Although we have an irritating habit of shuffling about with the begging bowl the plain truth is that we remain a cheap source of so much for the London centric regime,
In reality we are begging for the return of that which is taken from us. Not “has been taken”, but “is taken and will be taken” unless we stop it.
Because we are more important to England than they dare admit. Our dams in Mid & North Wales send billions of gallons of water into the English Midlands every minute.
And our Hydro-Electric power stations also provide power to the National Grid that lights English homes , hospitals & businesses.
So in reality it:s England who are the Welsh resources junkies. Turn the taps off then you’ll see who has the real power.
Why doesnt westminster just ditch Wales? Simple they need our water….just as they needed our coal and steel in the past. Westminster govts – tory or labour – see Wales as a place to be easily and cheaply exploited 😡 . And they’ll continue to do so for as long as we in Wales allow westminster to get away with it!
Coal has got to stop so thats a non argument. We have massive tidal and wind power potential currently held back by Westminster. We have steelworks. Our arable land could be much better exploited – and beef cows are on the way out anyway. Welsh dairy supplies a large sector in England.
It isn’t a non argument because the only new coal mine being proposed is in England. So by basic reasoning Wales isn’t being used for coal. Historically England has immense coals seams – I know you have forgone your English identity but the largest coal fired power stations were are in England. “our arable land could be exploited” Wow! Arable means you grow on it. Do you think if anyone from the Neolithic era onwards could have economically and competitively grown crops in Brecon and Snowdonia, they wouldn’t have done by now? The dairy sector? From the Welsh Government website… Read more »
Nothing youve said changes the historical and continuing reality of westminster’s cheap expoitation of wales natural resources. No idea where your ‘arable land’ claim comes from – 80 percent of land in wales is managed for farming in some way. And i pointed out to you previously that england imports a lot of its gas too – but you were posting under a different made up name then 😉
Arable means land you grow crops on.
Very little land in Wales can economically or practically grow foodstuffs. So the environment of East Anglia was irreversibly changed to provide food for the UK.
Cheap exploitation. Companies operated in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium and Germany to name a few in the business of coal.
Why is only in Wales where it is exploitation.
Wales is in the UK, so on that logic, the ecosystem of the North Sea has been exploited to provide energy for Wales.
According to the National Grid, 20% of the UK’s gas need’s are pumped from Milford Haven via a pipeline to England, so do we need gas fields ? the pipeline was completed in 2007 at a cost of £700 million.
That gas didn’t come from Wales did it?
40% of it comes from English North Sea waters.
What is your point?
Don’t forget carbon offsetting. Wales and Scotland may be obliged to use their land to offset rUK’s emissions as well as their own, for tree planting and other such projects.
Biodiversity could also come into this, with the somewhat dubious concept of “biodiversity net gain” to legitimise doing damage, if you can argue you’re making improvements elsewhere. Could a rewilding project earn “biodiversity offsets” so someone can build a motorway somewhere else?
Boris is doing his best from the top of his head.
While only having 5% of the population, we will supply 20% of their electricity come 2050 according to National Grid, due to our huge offshore resources
With little benefit for wales of course
Let’s hope you’re right that Westminster will end its need for Welsh water in the near future. A kick-started locally-run Welsh economy may well, as you say, need more of its own water by then.
Do you not think that you would engender more respect if you actually learnt something about economics, geography and engineering to supplement your new found Nationalism rather than just adding the odd sentence of mynediad cymraeg here and there?
Er nobody is ‘hating’ anyone – just pointing out the brutal long running exploitation of wales resources by westminster. And you know perfectly well that despite devolution wales still has limited powers when it comes to developing energy projects – westminster govts refuse to give us powers over large scale energy projects 😡 By the way by my reckoning this is the fifth different made up user name you have posted under on this site now 🤔 dont you think it’s time you got a life?
The only new coal field planned is in England. Mines existed all over the world, but somehow in Wales the nationalists see this as exploitation in Wales.
I post facts on here that easily dispel the bigoted narrow minded nationalist views on here that around five or six people get sucjked into.
Whatever name anyone uses, isn’t it time that people started listening to sense and dropping ignorant xenophobic opinions that drag ordinary decent Welsh citizens down in the estimation of the wider world.
I do hope you are not talking about the proposed coal mine in Cumbria, the one where the local Tory MP has withdrawn his support, and the local council is reviewing its decision to back the idea, due to protest and the lack of need for a mine, as steel production is looking to reduce pollution by using less coal.
There are 3 country’s on mainland Britain. 2 are energy self sufficient, 1 is dependant on the other 2. The dependant country goes by the name of Englnad, it could not survive without the other 2, plus imported energy from Norway and France.
The Norwegian link is a hilarious example of English self-delusion. Let me explain. The cables from Norway go straight past Scotland to supply the North East of England with flexible, peak hours, gas generated power which is exchanged for “Green” wind power thus loading the UK carbon footprint and further reducing Norway’s which uses mostly hydro anyway. The rub comes when England has to use Scottish “Green” energy to supply Norway because England is far from self-supporting in any form of electricity generation. So those electrons go flowing up and down the Scottish coast to keep the lights on and… Read more »
It’s partly about losing reputation abroad, partly about the fear of real loss of geo-political influence and power, partly about fear of losing free exploitation of Welsh resources, and partly a psychological blow to their self-esteem. First-ever colony, remember?
Little England would be greatly diminished without Scotland and Wales, at the moment most people in the world think that the UK and England are the same thing something many English people also think or are happy to allow, Also where else would English people be able to buy cheap holiday homes, ignoring the local language and thinking they are still in England?
Brexit is changing most images of Eng/tain in Europe, as well the image of the “Polite English gentleman” taking a huge nosedive. The real gents of England seem to regard politics as a cesspool, which is a pity, so we have to struggle against the sewer rats. But Scotland, and now Wales are, at last, recognised.
That’s easy – water and valleys cannon fodder. But it’s OK because in return we get sinecures for Welsh speakers and S4C!
I agree with the sentiments of the article. However, I am concerned that the independence argument is becoming a Wales vs England argument (although the article is careful not to overstate that). We would never win that for size, financial reasons etc. and most Welsh people would not support that argument anyway. Besides, despite the English nationalist elements, many English people are our friends and family and many love Wales. We should not alienate them. The problem is the Westminster system. We should concentrate our argument on that, whether it be reforming or leaving the UK. A good example for… Read more »
Good point. This is about the Westminster Government, not the people of England, not all of whom are dismissive or offensive in their attitude towards Cymru.
Try Estonia, lot of foreigners left after indy. Slovakia had not many settlers?
Yes vital we bring English ( and other) immigrants along with us too – have to emphasise the broken Westminster system at all costs. The newly arrived may not recognise it at first but after years of residency they’ll no doubt pick up that there’s something very lopsided about the way Westminster ‘rules’ Britannia.
Cymru is an absolute insignificance to them and more and more of us are realising that as each day goes by…when a majority know and ‘feel’ that fact … Independence day will be near!
I think I disagree in the sense that English culture does have the potential to oblierate Welsh culture if just 10% of English people moved here. I’m not saying they would but we need to be cognizant that you can love English people and still not want mass in migration to Wales.
There are fundamenta problems of inequality in the relationship between English and Welsh culture because English society is 10 times larger and we could potentially miss that if we just say ‘westminster is the only problem’.