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  • Lawrence Bailey

What kind of independence do we want, anyway?

A Welsh historian of note once remarked that his ancestors were distinguishable by their stiff necks and muck-spattered faces; traits obtained, he reckoned, from a lifetime of staring up at castle walls.

It’s a great opening line for a lecture, and one designed to evoke a sense of injustice - but are we really still held back by our bigger neighbours?

There’s no doubt that self-rule in Wales was effectively side-lined in the sixteenth century through an Act of Union imposed by an English parliament that formalised our vassal status.

However, before anyone kicks off about foreign oppression, the crowned heads behind this switch in status from kingdom to colonial possession were the Welsh Tudors.

Statutes and proclamations henceforth referred to “England and Wales”, thus literally confirming the popular saying, I guess, about possession and the law.

Anyway, devolution has since gone a long way towards changing things, hasn’t it?

I mean, the sense of tribal payback we experienced as Wales crossed the try line last Saturday wasn’t about re-establishing nationhood or anything.

According to a clutch of polls published around St David’s Day, we’re still lukewarm about independence. There’s a discernible rise in those who favour a clean break but the same goes for electors wishing to see the Senedd scrapped altogether.

What I find interesting though is how trends suggest most people expect the process towards self-determination to continue – and even approve of things going in that direction.

Whether it’s the incremental approach or the more direct nationalist message, things are likely to get convoluted, thanks to the UK government’s Internal Market Bill which will directly control key spending in Wales.

Although it’s highly likely that we’ll be told by parties come this May that a vote for them equals a vote for independence or the Union or the status quo, it’s not quite true.

For every aspirational statement about the desirability of independence, I hear half a dozen questions about practicalities. That said, there’s a growing number of workable answers.

Nonetheless, if Brexit teaches us anything then it’s that the philosophy of only crossing bridges when we come to them is nowadays inadvisable. Especially as politicians have developed a nasty habit of burning them.


There’s always one who spoils things

So, the letter arrived inviting me to get my COVID vaccination and along I went as summoned.

I have to say it was a positive experience. Being greeted on arrival and offered a choice of hand sanitizer or wipes, I felt like I was embarking on a cruise rather than a clinical visit.

We were processed in batches by polite staff in much the way guests are grouped together for theme park rides. The difference was that there’s was only a couple of months in age between the lot of us. Two people in my group had the same birthdate as me.

Anyway, it was all going very smoothly until one individual suddenly had a lot of questions for the staff member who was about to administer the jabs. Their concern was about possible side effects but it soon became apparent that this long-winded query was all about making a statement.

The result was a fifteen minute delay for all concerned and I find it hard to understand what purpose the individual felt they were serving. Nonetheless congratulations to everyone involved in a very well organised operation – and thank you.


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