Assuming that it is perfectly constitutionally possible...
...to what extent is it fair to say that people living in Wales will be best served in the long term by total independence from the rest of the Union?
There's both aspirational and financial reasons for why I believe Wales would be best served leaving the union to become a fully sovereign country.
- Firstly, we are a proud country with a strong and distinctive national identity. Yet, in the union, we've found ourselves assimilated into a faceless 'super' state which has done everything it can to erase our 'Welshness'- even forbidding us from calling ourselves Welsh on official document such as the Census or driving licences, referring to us all simply as 'British'. Is it any wonder GW Bush asked Charlotte church what state Wales was in when she told him she was from Wales??
With my work I've travelled around the world and believe me, very, very, very few people have ever even heard of Wales and almost all look at me with a puzzled look when I say I'm Welsh. They simply assume UK is a country... Not a union of countries.
- Secondly, and possibly most importantly, there's the financial reasons for why I believe the country would be better fully independent.
We're not a race of idiots! Year on year our students have consistently had higher GCSE & A-level pass-rates than their counterparts in England... Welsh people have been credited for everything from developing the prototype for the first vertical takeoff airplane to being the chief scientist at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Yet, under westminster control, the latest (unofficial) GDP figures show Portugal and Hungary enjoy a greater GDP per capita than Wales...
Like all nations in the union, every year we in Wales pay billions to the union government.
England has benefited from a raft of infrastructure investment project paid for, at least in part, by union tax payers (and as 'large infrastructure investments' are ignored from the Barnett formula);
Cross-Rail, High Speed 1, Jubilee line extension, West Coast mainline upgrade, Intercity Express Programme, DLR, T5 at Heathrow, New Tramlines in Croydon, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, etc - hundreds of miles of new motorways... And lets not forget the Olympics, New Wembley, Millennium dome, etc, etc - all things Welsh people have helped pay for but will seldom ever use.
Yet here, despite the billions we've paid, we've suffered from chronic lack of investment; In total there's 1 motorway in the whole country (which is dual carriageway for long stretches), there's 3 non-electrified train lines with which it's impossible to travel from north to south without going via England, our 'International' airport flies almost exclusively to Beach destinations. There's no Cardiff Tram line - no Highspeed rail link to London.... although we do have the most expensive toll bridge in the British isles connecting us to England.
I don't think many people would disagree that we've been shackled by the union's one size fits all policies on taxation which means that, all things being equal, large service sectors & manufacturing companies naturally flow to where there's the infrastructure in place for them to do business - why would any multinational high tech, well paying blue chip company want to setup in Wales?
As such, we have above average unemployment & long-term disability rates and below average life expectancy and Human Development Index.
Being independent we'd have the flexibility to manage our economy for the specific needs of Wales. According to official GDP figures (List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) the people in Europe enjoying the greatest personal wealth all tend to live in the smaller nations - Despite being the poorest nation when in the union, independent Ireland now have a GDP nearly 50% higher than any of us...
We all share a small Island and I can't envisage any situation where Wales, England and Scotland will be anything other than good friends, partners and allies - but why do we need to be centrally run from Westminster?! Why can't Wales, Scotland & England run their own affairs for the benefit of their own people?
If there's one thing I agree with UKIP supporters on, it's that free trade and co-operation with our neighbours is good - political unions are bad.
Last edited by max fm; 13-06-2009 at 02:33 PM.
a monstrous carbuncle!
It would be churlish to dispute claims for whose paying into the Union and who isn't, because ultimately the government of a country is in the best position to judge how it should raise taxes and what it should spend money on.
So I have full confidence that Wales would do fine as an independent country.
You are 100% right mate.
Originally Posted by Northumbrian
And I think England would do great as an independent nation too.... A country full of some the nicest people I've ever met, and which has given the world the likes of Shakespear, Newton and William Harvey.
The union is holding us all back.
How, though, would Wales pay for itself?
Easy. The billions we save by no longer having pay our share of City of London Bank bailouts, new trident, Olympics, ID cards and all the other 'pork-barrel' westminster projects would mean we'll in fact have a massive budget surplus here in Wales.
Originally Posted by Invictus_88
Once we're independent I'd like to see us dramatically cut corporation tax to offset the decades of none-existent investment in the country and encourage corporations to make Wales their home.
By coincindence I would like to see England cut corporation tax too.
The reality is if the former British nations emulate the Nordic region and allow free movement of people, goods and services between countries, then the economies would be fairly inter-linked and there would be similar GDPs per capita.
Which is fine, but what's important is to only have one national government in each nation, with the British government consigned to history.
But there are huge infrastructural problems to get past before you can attract the necessary investment. No proper North/South transport, no free-standing healthcare system, no independent communications, not even a national grid.
It doesn't look too promising.
I think Jasper Fforde summed it up beautifully in his novel The Eyre Affair: the problem with an "independent" Wales would not be its independence but the fact that in all likelihood it would be a Communist state. Welsh voters tend to lean far to the left of the political spectrum so the notion of low taxes and freedom in such a state is (probably) a pipe dream. Right-wing separatists are very much the minority in Wales, unless something dramatic has changed since I lived there in the 1980s and '90s.
Yes - but if we were able to control our own economy we'd be able to offset this. Currently, in Westminster's one size fits all model, the corporation tax in Wales is the same as London's and 3 times the rate of Ireland's... so understandably seldom few companies set up in Wales and hundreds of thousands of possible jobs are lost (instead of making money through income tax and VAT, we pay job seekers and benefits).
Originally Posted by Invictus_88
If we were to say, abolish corporation tax totally - that would go a long way to compensate corporations for the infrastructure problems in the country, as well as helping SMEs and start-ups who're both the true drivers of an economy and currently taxed to the hilt.
Once there are jobs and wealth in a country, investment in infrastructure will follow.
As I said in a previous post - once you take away Westminster's pork-barrel projects Wales is already a self sufficient country; able to pay for healthcare, pensions, police, education and the rest.