Ending Sovereignty’s Denial

The new political pluralism in Wales, with no party enjoying overwhelming dominance, is providing the conditions for ensuring the country successfully moves towards creating a law-making parliament.

In a new IWA Discussion Paper, Ending Sovereignty’s Denial, the institute’s director, John Osmond, argues that Wales’s previous political dominance by first the Liberal Party in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, followed by Labour in the rest of the 20th Century blocked efforts to achieve cross-party agreement on constitutional change and an effective expression of the popular political will of the people of Wales. Instead, constitutional change was viewed solely from the vantage point of the self-interest of the dominant political parties.

The paper asks why Scotland was awarded full legislative powers at the start of the devolution process while Wales has been left to struggle to make an inadequate settlement work effectively. The answer is to be found in the confining of Welsh popular sovereignty by first the Liberal Party and then Labour over much of the past 150 years.

“The overwhelming domination of these parties led them to believe that they embraced the essence of Welsh representation to such a powerful extent that no other force or point of view needed to be taken into account.”

However, the author finds that the coming of political pluralism to 21st Century Wales is ending this denial of sovereignty and providing an opening for constitutional change: “In place of more than 100 years of single party domination, in which the possibility of Welsh popular sovereignty was extinguished, we now have the emergence of a civic culture, built around an inclusive National Assembly, with the potential for demanding sovereignty over at least the nation’s domestic affairs. It is now the role of the All-Wales Convention to assess and articulate this demand. By any standards it is an advance.”

Ending Sovereignty’s Denial is available now from the IWA at £5 (discount to IWA members)

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