Sunday, 3 November 2013

Welsh devolution to stop Scottish revolution

The UK coalition government  led by the Conservative David Cameron  has just announced that the Welsh assembly will be given increased powers over tax and borrowing. In addition, the government proclaimed that next year's NATO summit will be held in Wales. This so-called devolution of powers, from London to Cardiff, is a move by the usually anti-devolutionist Conservatives that has surprised many (although few are surprised that the move was supported by the Conservatives coalition partners, the pro-devolutionist Liberal Democrats).
First minister of Scotland Alex Salmond with the prime minister of the United Kingdom 
David Cameron. Signing the agreement for a referendum to be held on Scottish 
independence in 2014
However, I think this is less about Wales, and more about the Scottish vote on independence next year. Basically, I see this move as a big ‘up yours’ to the Scottish National Party's claim that devolution within the United Kingdom is unreliable. The UK government is here-by signalling that it is a supporter and deliverer of increas-ed devolution within the union. Hence, it is saying that: “if only you Jocks can see sense and vote 'No' next year, you will be rewarded with similar increased devolved powers“ (e.g. these proposed Welsh powers – including flexibility in setting rates across tax bands – are considerably greater than the current powers of the Scottish assembly, and will surely be extended to the latter assembly if only the Scots vote 'No').
And I suspect that the decision to hold the NATO summit in Wales next year is yet another middle-finger to SNPs leader Alex Salmond, considering his 'problematic' NATO-membership aspirations.
Cor blimey, it will be a fascinating couple of months leading up to the independence vote in September 2014. Grab some pop-corn, sit back, enjoy!