Interesting article by Martin Shipton in the Western Mail today. Martin's been talking to Dr John Davies of Aberystwyth who has written a 20,000 update for a new edition of his aclaimed book, A History of Wales. John seems to think Wales is well on the way to becoming a 'Nation State' - whatever that means. I'm not sure that I know what a 'Nation State' is. It seems to me that , like 'independence' and 'sovereignty', 'nation state-hood' is another divisible concept.
There can be no doubt that the development of Wales as a distinct 'nation' has moved on a lot during my lifetime. I have always been comfortable with this and I am proud of the part that the Conservative Party has played in this. Many people see this process as being essentially cultural - S4C (sorry S4/C), the Language Act, the curriculum changes, etc.. This is partly true. But its been a lot more than that. Throughout the 1980s I was much involved in the Welsh Development Agency, the Wales Tourist Board and the Development Board for Rural Wales. There has been much discussion about how democratic these bodies were - but no-one can argue that they didn't play a huge part in developing a seperate Welsh brand (which in this context is another word for nationhood). International recognition was a fundamental objective of all three of these bodies.
There is an international trend towards devolving power (a key part of nationhood) to smaller units. Just look at the changing membership of the UN since the end of empires. I believe this trend towards distinctive 'nationhood' will carry on in Wales. And there is nothing inherently un-Conservative about this. Regioal distictiveness and freedom for minorities to live as they want are strong Conservative principles. I do think my party managed to manouvre itself onto the wrong side of some important debates over the recent decades. I truely believe we have made a big change since the Assembly was created, It is indeed ironic that so many of my party in 1997 worked so very hard to prevent us finding our Welsh destiny.