Yes or No is almost irrelevant. the referendum in Scotland has energized political debate. People are thinking about what kind of future they want, what kind of country should it be. It’s not just about constitutional change, it’s about social and economic justice as well. There’s passion being generated about politics.
In Wales it’s bland in Scotland it’s vital – politics that is.
Talk of separation causes reflection on the existing state. All above the age of 16 in Scotland have to decide whether to give the UK the thumbs up or down.
Wales doesn’t have that opportunity, but it’s in the same Union and should also be debating what country it wants to live in. Reflections on the Union should not just be the business of the Scots.
What kind of United Kingdom is it? Well a particularly unfair kingdom is the answer.
Wealth is concentrated in London and south east of England and power and wealth is concentrated on a small number of its population.
Despite Labour being in government for thirty odd years since the end of the second world war, the gap between rich and poor persist. Indeed in the last few years it’s widened.
And the response of Welsh political and chattering classes, ignore it. The political discourse in Wales has concentrated on bringing political power to the Bay, but seldom if ever has the debate widened to consider issues of social justice.
Little wonder that increasingly large numbers feel that politics are irrelevant to their lives. Whoever you vote for, nothing changes.
Wales has had three referenda and in each of the three the debates have been confined to political democracy, not economic and social concerns.
Class, wealth, income, power no longer command centre stage. At one time every workingman’s institute, quarryman’s lodge, non-comformist chapel, trade union branch would be discussing these issues. Not now, such talk belongs to a previous political age, more suited for a display cabinet in Saint Ffagan National History museum.
Nothing could be more removed from the mainstream of British and Welsh considerations, but surely that state of affairs can be kept to the margins for ever.
Politics is more than what goes on in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. It’s much more than electing MPs and Assembly Members or councillors for that matter.
A fully functioning political democracy should explore issues of economic and social democratisation. It asks questions about wealth distribution and how to democratise the economic levers.
It’s about shifting the argument away from constitutional matters to a debate about what kind of society we want to live in.
Is it a Wales that is an acquisitive society wedded to the tarnished American version of capitalism or does Wales and, for that matter the rest of the Union want different?
The current political settlement fails to live up to the hopes of many Welsh people. Lives are wasted and many in our communities are not treated with the respect and humanity they deserve. The debate should be about how to build a society people want to live in. These issues are too important to be left to politicians. People need to reassert themselves. A referendum is not a prerequisite to discussing the issues.