Funny how a seemingly innocuous and oft-repeated remark can suddenly take on a life of its own. Oddly, the background to this observation is my opposition to the idea of 'Independence' for Wales. As usual, the potentially troublesome comment was posted on this blog, which is subject to 'trawlers' looking for opportunities to embarrass me. And as usual, the journalist who picks up on these things with the precision of a sniffer dog on a Semtex trail is Martin Shipton. He's been on the phone today, and I'm feeling a bit tense about how what I might have said will read in tomorrow's Western Mail.
What I posted was that I saw no reason why Wales would not flourish as an 'independent' nation. And that is what I do think. There are several reasons why we should oppose 'Independence', but that Wales could not survive as an independent nation is not one of them. In fact, I regard it as insulting to the Welsh nation to assert that she couldn't survive. Wales would not be the same country if it was not a part of Great Britain - but there is no reason why she should not flourish, both economically and politically. The government of this independent nation would certainly have less money to spend without the City of London tax base - and it would probably have to opt out of the international obligations that a British government accepts. I suppose that the reality would be that Wales success would depend on how well she would be governed.
However, I do think the idea of 'Independence' for Wales is a thoroughly bad idea. At a time when the world is becoming more interdependent, it seems illogical in the extreme to create an international boundary between us and our nearest neighbour along Offa's Dyke. It is downright stupid to turn our backs on services that can more sensibly and conveniently be provided over the English border just to provide the service within Wales. The decision by the current Assembly Government to require patients from North Wales to access neurological services 200 miles away in Cardiff or Swansea gives an idea of what would happen. And where I live in Mid Wales, the area has more affinity with the West Midlands from an economic perspective than with a Cardiff dominated South Wales.
I do not believe that many people support the idea of Welsh 'Independence'. I don't - and I would not favour putting forwards the option in a referendum on future governance arrangements for Wales. It is just not a sensible idea. It is crucial that opposition to the idea is based on sound argument, not on assertions that belittle the Welsh people. As we have seen in Scotland, the people might just become offended - and bloody minded. I'm told that Martin has written 600 words for tomorrow. I may have to leave the country.