A Two-Capital Nation

Montenegro, a nation with two capitals, an 'official' capital and an 'honorary' capital. An example for Wales to consider

(Start of new series of regular articles comparing some of GWLAD’s manifesto policies to other parties’ policies)

[This article originally appeared on our Facebook page]

NEXT year, 2021, is going to be a transformative election for Wales.

One transformative policy of ours is to seek a more de-centralized Wales

To re-balance political and cultural power in Wales to better reflect the nature of life in this nation.

For far too long, the political class have been ensconced in their comfortable bubble in Cardiff Bay- removed from the real concerns of Welsh communities throughout the land.

Reaction to this fact has now sadly manifested itself into reality, with the emergence of an outright Abolish the Assembly party.

To counter the threat of the AA party – and spark the interest of a wider apathetic public – some REAL change has got to be on the agenda for next year’s election.

Same old, same old, just won’t cut it any more.

That’s why GWLAD are proposing moving specific governmental functions out of Cardiff Bay to other parts of Wales. To provide jobs in other parts of the nation, and provide a better balance in our national governance.

With the ultimate aim of establishing a second capital for Wales somewhere in west/mid Wales.

A ‘two capital nation’ scenario is already in place in several other countries including the Netherlands, Montenegro, Malaysia, South Korea and Chile.

In these nations, the ‘official’ capital is augmented with another capital, which often performs governmental and legislative functions.

For example, in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the official capital, but the Dutch Parliament sits in The Hague.

Montenegro (a nation of just one million people) has its official capital in Podgorica, but it’s ‘honorary’ capital and parliament is in Cetinje, as a gesture to the nation’s past.

Maybe that’s just the example that Wales should follow.

No one would deny that Cardiff has solidified its place as Wales’s capital over the years, with a brand awareness that now extends beyond Wales to the UK and Europe at large.

But Wales also needs a real economic and cultural counter-balance to Cardiff, and a second capital could perform that exact function.

An ‘honorary’ capital for Wales could be situated perhaps in Aberystwyth, in view of Aber’s strong and enduring links to Welsh cultural life over the years.

Others would point to Machynlleth – the seat of Owain Glyndwr’s first parliament in 1404 – as the best site for such an honorary capital. It certainly would have a cast iron historical case.
It’s also an ideal location in mid-Wales to serve the needs of modern Wales today.

When Independence arrives, Wales will need a new parliament building in its honorary capital, which can properly reflect the epic historical story of the Cymry over the centuries.

The swimming pool appearance of the present set-up in Cardiff Bay, and its county-council feel within will not suffice any longer for a proud nation finding its place in the world at last.

The honorary capital, wherever it is established, will surely have to bear proper witness to an honourable past as well as signal a brighter future for Wales as a nation.

Other parties’ policies on this issue of de-centralizing power in Wales:

Plaid – Cardiff Bay as usual
London-led Labour – Cardiff Bay as usual
London-led Tories – Cardiff Bay as usual
London-led Lib Dems – Cardiff Bay as usual
London-led UKIP – Cardiff Bay as usual.

So, if you want a de-centralized Wales, you know what to do next year!

3 thoughts on “A Two-Capital Nation

  1. This suggestion has its attractions; for reasons both historical and geographical, Cardiff seems one hell of a long way from where I live, in Dyffryn Clwyd.

    I’m English by birth, but I spent my (now rather distant!) twenties and thirties in Wales – all in the south – and returned nearly four years ago to live here, but this time in the north. And my impression now is no different from my impression then: that the Welsh sense of identity – and in consequence the Welsh sense of patriotism – is entirely authentic, but it’s predominantly local. When most Welsh people – at least, those outside the committed political classes! – contemplate their sense of Welshness, most instinctively view it in the context of a local rather than a national sense of belonging.

    And here in the north, folk in and around Cardiff appear, at least to me, all too readily viewed as ‘them’ rather than ‘us’! Indeed, I think a case might be made for the proposition that, in certain parts of Wales, folk in Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford are considered more ‘one of we’, as Radnorshire folk say, more than folk in distant Gwent and Glamorgan are.

    I think this suggestion is worth consideration. I’d just say that from a northern perspective I think the suggestion of Machynlleth as an ‘honorary’ second capital might be the better one. From the environs of Dinbych even Aberystwyth seems rather a long way away!

    1. Yes, I think that what you say is very true. It’s been an Achilles heel of the independence movement for a long time – the North fearing the economic dominance of the South, and the South fearing the cultural dominance of the North. That ‘mutual suspicion’ had subsided a lot by 1997, which is probably why the referendum result was so different from the one in 1979, but if anything the relentless Cardiff focus of the Welsh Government since then has made the problem worse again.

      It may be that having more than one capital – equal in status but different in function – could be a way of healing the rift for good; a ‘Welsh solution to a Welsh problem’. The challenge would be doing it without a splurge of frivolous spending on fancy new government buildings, which is why Aberystwyth and/or Llandudno Junction look attractive since they already have some.

      1. True enough – your concluding point is sound, and Machynlleth would presumably involve ‘starting from scratch’.

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