The point at which past perspectives become future intentions …..
THE excruciating Brexit psycho-drama is likely to be resolved one way or the other over the next couple of days, with three different meaningful votes lined up at Westminster. After all the endless prevaricating over so many months, something’s now got to give with Theresa May’s proposed “deal” with the EU.
Two and a half years have rolled by since that historic vote to leave the EU in the summer of 2016. It’s probably been the most chaotic and rudderless political situation witnessed in anyone’s lifetime here. With the two big parties absolutely riddled with internal divisions, Westminster has been shown up as never before, with more and more people awake to what a failed political model it really is. Whatever happens, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. Things can never be the same here again.
A need to prepare for whatever comes our way
GWLAD’s official position on Brexit has been to stay above the fray, taking the pragmatic view that the decision has been taken, and that Wales has little real influence on what actually now transpires at Westminster. We also were mindful that Wales was and remains divided between those who wanted to leave and those who wanted to stay in the EU, so why alienate half of your potential voting population straight away by taking a dogmatic stance one way or the other? Our approach has always been that Wales needs to prepare for the end game, and be ready to deal with whatever comes our way post Brexit.
But, looking at things dispassionately, there is a good case to be made that the initial Brexit vote was really England’s bid for its Independence (with Wales and Scotland viewed as collateral damage in that process). Yes, the way that Westminster has treated the two Celtic countries in what is supposed to be an union of nations has been nothing short of disgraceful. But, perhaps nothing has galvanised the Welsh National Cause to such an extent since the flooding of Tryweryn back in 1963. In that sense, whatever way you voted in 2016, Brexit really has been the gift that keeps on giving.
Heartfelt cry for social and economic change ignored
But, once the vote was won, has there ever been such a timorous, and lily-livered campaign to deliver national independence for a nation ever held? Anywhere? How on earth did the people of England- who once ruled over half the globe- allow its own political class to do everything possible over this last period to try and frustrate its own population’s desire for independence from the EU and their heartfelt cry for a new social and economic order?
Theresa May has basically frittered away two and a half years, negotiating shambolically with the EU from the position of a complete supplicant. Her own abysmal performance as PM has really been a perfect metaphor for the failure of the UK state, and the wider failure of the governing class to fully appreciate the earthquake that the 2016 vote actually was. Little wonder then that a BMG poll published over the weekend showed that 39% of voters actually thought that our politicians put the EU’s interests over the interests of the UK with only 25% disagreeing with that position.
Meanwhile, the real and underlying message of the Brexit vote about the need for a complete re-set in the UK has been totally ignored and belittled over this last period. Yes, there’s been some fanciful sloganeering by the Tory Boys about becoming a “world trading nation” again. But, criminally,there’s been next to no discussion about the really important issues that matter to ordinary people : improving the UK’s groaning infrastructure, reviving the economy and creating new industries, ways to re-invigorate and re-empower the marginalized regions, introducing a sensible immigration policy, cutting the finance sector down to size, and how to re-think doing democracy in a way fit for a 21st century world. Nada, Zilch, Dim Byd.
Debate driven entirely by big corporate interests
Instead the whole debate has been driven entirely by the selfish interests of the big corporates which have ruled the roost here for so long, hollowing out whole communities throughout Wales, Scotland and England over the past generation and more. These corporate interests have of course captured the mainstream media and the political class who are just their mouthpieces in effect. Listening to their constant Project Fear narrative, you would never, ever imagine that only a comparatively small percentage of trade is actually conducted with the EU in reality. The vast majority of economic activity in Wales for example is still conducted locally, nationally and on a UK basis. But of course the media-politico duopoly don’t want the great unwashed to know that.
The small percentage of EU trade which has been elevated to such God-like importance is mostly conducted by big corporate, trans-national entities who want to keep their gravy train of huge profits, cheap labour, low wages, endless supply of pliant migrants, and kow-towing politicians steaming on as usual. The biggest popular vote ever recorded on these isles can go whistle.
We note that our fellow nationalist party in Wales, Plaid Cymru, have been very vocal in favour of staging a “people’s vote“, i.e to have a second Brexit referendum. One can only hope that this is mere tactical posturing by their new leader, Adam Price.
A second referendum would be a disaster for Plaid
Mr. Price surely knows that a second referendum would be a complete disaster for Plaid, who would then most likely be regarded by half the people of Wales as democracy-deniers. One can also imagine how badly all this would play out for them in the key electoral area of the Valleys, (40% of the Welsh population) which voted so strongly to leave the EU.
It would also, more importantly, poison the well as far as the big prize is concerned for Wales, i.e a future Welsh Independence Referendum.
After all, if a principle is set in place that close referendums can now be contested almost immediately, how would that pan out in a future Welsh Independence referendum, say with YES winning 55% of the vote? 55% is the internationally recognised threshold for nations wishing to gain independence, and in view of Wales’s internal circumstances, that figure would probably start as the realistic target for Independence campaigners here.
But, if we have a public understanding that referendum victories can be challenged and overthrown almost immediately wouldn’t such a figure be instantly challenged by the disgruntled 45%, leading to years of dissension and wrangling here in Wales? The road to hell as they say, is always paved with good intentions.
Change in mood music as crucial votes loom
No one can say for sure how things will play out over the next few days. But one senses that the mood music has changed quite significantly over the last week or so. There’s something in the air. It might be the fact that March 29th is coming ever closer. It might be a growing awareness of the escalating Gilet Jaunes revolt just across the channel. It might be a sense that the coming EU election will see a wave of populist parties voted in all European nations, all rejecting the EU’s globalizing project in favour of national decision making once again.
That would be the ultimate irony- if the “anti-Europe” meme that has been levelled against the EU resisters here, actually plays out as being “pro-Europe” in the sense that those people have just been in tune with what’s actually going on in countries all over Europe right now, i.e the rejection of the status quo. There seems to be a growing feeling that rather than being a complete aberration, the 2016 Referendum was actually a bell-weather vote for how vast tracts of Europe is now thinking about things.
Like the 69% of the readers of French newspaper Le Figaro in France, who have just stated they reject the grandiose vision of a stronger EU outlined in a letter to 27 European nations written by President Emmanuel Macron, the would-be little emperor of the continent.
A huge learning curve for Wales
It’s not impossible that different tactical manouvering can see all three motions defeated in Westminster this week: May’s Deal, Take No-Deal off the table, and Extend Article 50. If that happens, then the default legal position is still that the UK leaves the EU on March 29th on WTO rules. If I were a betting man, I’d be sorely tempted now to put some money on that option, with maybe a general election as a side bet just in case.
But whatever happens, it’s been a huge learning curve for people here in Wales, just watching and observing the complete car-crash at Westminster over the last two and a half years. Surely we won’t make such a dog’s dinner of things when our own opportunity for Independence finally arrives.