Plaid Cymru’s warning to Scotland

Leanne Wood calls for scepticism over the No campaign’s new promises.

As the polls narrow in Scotland’s referendum campaign the panic-stricken ‘no’ camp are now belatedly falling over themselves with promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ should the Scots vote their way.

Such promises are accompanied with threats to Scots if they vote to become an independent country. Such an approach has failed so far and it is hard to see how it will work in the final days of the referendum campaign.

This week on Click on Wales

 This week on Click on Wales we’ll be examining the implications of the Scottish vote on Wales with a series from Welsh party leaders Leanne Wood, Kirsty Williams and Andrew RT Davies.      

This comes ahead of the IWA’s key conference held this Thursday at the Wales Millennium Centre, which sets out to ask ‘What about Wales?’ This event focused on the effects of the referendum features an exciting lineup including Simon Jenkins, Gerald Holtham, Leanne Wood, Kirsty Williams and David Marquand. Limited numbers of tickets are still available at our Eventbrite site.


Plaid Cymru has repeatedly warned that promises from the three Westminster parties cannot be taken at face value. There are two primary reasons for this.

Firstly, their track record suggests that they seldom keep such promises. As recently as January the Lib Dem Chief Secretary of the Treasury was explicit in a letter ruling out any financial arrangements that could potentially put one part of the UK at an advantage over the others. That is, Wales – or Scotland – should not be free to pursue fiscal arrangements that might deviate from the Westminster’s line.

He need only have said ‘Westminster is sovereign.’

As there has been no further correspondence announcing a u-turn, we can only surmise that the UK Government’s position has not changed.

Remember, this particular policy of inflexibility arises despite the UK Government’s own independent, cross-party commission recommending income tax devolution to Wales without the caveats that Westminster is insisting upon.

And just weeks ago Unionist MPs voted against empowering Wales further during a debate on the Wales Bill. Promises made are not met with action when it matters.

The second reason to be sceptical of any belated promises from the no camp stems from a deep suspicion that far from ushering in a new era of quasi-federalism, the result of Scotland rejecting self-rule would amount to a renewed mandate for Westminster to run Scotland.

It is also not inconceivable to envisage a Tory party in the near future led by the current mayor of London and a significant UKIP parliamentary presence at Westminster. That combination occurring within months of Scots voting ‘no’, makes the prospect of any serious devolution doubtful to say the least.

The only way for Scotland to secure greater, meaningful powers is to ensure that the exercise of Scottish sovereignty that will occur on the 18th remains for every day after that with a ‘yes’ vote.

From a Welsh perspective, Scotland’s debate has significant ramifications. But it has also exposed the woeful and incoherent position of the current party of government in Wales.

It is worth pondering whether history will judge it as shameful, that during this period of unprecedented opportunity, Wales’ First Minister argued for any new powers on offer to Scotland also to be offered to Wales, and then immediately listed a series of new powers he would reject.

Before the summer, Plaid Cymru outlined the intellectual basis for the future development of Wales’ constitution.

Plaid Cymru starts from the premise that it is the people of Wales who are sovereign.

On a practical level that means a new process where the people of Wales themselves decide on which decisions should be made at home and which should be shared with others – without any limitations for debate imposed by political parties or governments.

Plaid Cymru made the case for a citizen-led process to include the people composing a written constitution for our country. As well as empowering Wales our constitution would also be an expression of our collective national values.

And we’ve made the case for a powers reserved model – powers reserved to Wales unless the people themselves have expressed their desire to cede or share them.

Crucially, we believe the constitution of Wales belongs to the people of Wales – not to Westminster.

Plaid Cymru wants the National Assembly to have the power to hold binding referenda and at a time when the people of Wales want it, we hope to see Wales having a national conversation akin to the one Scotland is having right now.

The best context for such rebalancing of political power away from the London city-state would be in the event of a ‘yes’ vote on the 18th.

Otherwise, we run the risk of investing all our hopes in three parties who are clearly hoping for a ‘no’ vote to act as a precursor for a Westminster renaissance.

Leanne Wood AM is the leader of Plaid Cymru. She is Assembly Member for South Wales Central.

7 thoughts on “Plaid Cymru’s warning to Scotland

  1. The observation regarding Danny Alexander’s January letter is interesting, Will this feature in the debate over the ‘Burn’s Night Declaration’ offer, which does appear to contradict this?

  2. Perhaps Leanne Wood should adapt the role of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones to her political persona. Launch a fleet of (Welsh) dragons at the court of the corrupt King ‘Joffrey’ Carwyn. I’d vote for that!

  3. I have some emotional sympathy for the nationalists but their economic illiteracy and boneheadedness drives me mad. Gwylon, those “crumbs” amount to over £12 billion a year, about 30 per cent of Wales GDP. Our beloved country has a pigmy economy that could not support the current population at much more than half its current income level. Ten years of devolved government has done nothing to improve that situation. So what does Plaid Cymru propose to do about it – apart from saying its all England’s fault with one breath and then asking them for more money with the next?

  4. I agree that we need more powers and control of funding that is generated by welsh economy. We should threaten the English tax payer/profitable private companies that we will leave UK unless we get what ‘We the People demand’!!.This constant flux about powers of Assembly/WAG by PC and the BBC in Wales is boring and irrelevant to most ordinary welsh people as they can see the NHS almost collapsing,and rapid growth of private medicine amongst the well heeled.In Parliament yesterday William Hague MP stated that most people in UK,and including England wanted Scotland to stay in UK,when a PC member shouted out “Not Wales” which is a lie.The continuing impact of PC is far beyond its relevance/popularity,but Llafur is always looking over its shoulder and ‘trimming’ to welsh nationalism which is hated/feared in most ordinary families.In conclusion the honest position for us to instruct HM Treasury to only send us what we produce as we wish to stand on our own,rather than ‘begging’ for more money and then ‘dumping’ on the providers.There is little that we are world class at,except HYPOCRISY!!!

  5. scotland would be worse off? not if they didn’t have to pay for trident. we don’t want it either – it’s neither moral or an effective defence.

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