Sunday 28 June 2020

Cadw’n ffit a bocsio’n glyfar

Mae’r awydd am annibyniaeth ar fin berwi yn rhengoedd y mudiad cenedlaethol ar hyn o bryd os yw’r cyfryngau cymdeithasol i’w credu. Mae Trydar ar dân gyda datganiadau beunyddiol am ‘Indy Wales now!’ ac mae aelodaeth Yes Cymru’n tyfu yn esbonyddol bob wythnos. Mae rhai yn meddwl, mae’n debyg, mai ‘un rhuthr arall’ yn unig sydd ei angen cyn i Gymru fach daflu ei rhwymau ymaith, troi’n genedl-wladwriaeth annibynnol, a chymryd ei lle ymysg cenhedloedd rhyddion eraill y byd.

Rhaid i fi gyfaddef fy mod yn teimlo’r awydd hwnnw o bryd i’w gilydd hefyd. Rwyf am weld Cymru’n rhydd cyn gynted â phosibl. Rwyf yn credu mai cenedl-wladwriaeth ar wahân yw statws cyfansoddiadol gorau a mwyaf naturiol i’m gwlad. Rwyf yn credu bydd ffyniant economaidd, diwylliannol a chymdeithasol yn dilyn annibyniaeth wleidyddol. Ie, rwyf yn genedlaetholwr Cymreig i’r carn ac yn falch ohoni. Ond mae’n rhaid i fi gyfaddef hefyd, ysywaeth, nad wyf yn credu bod annibyniaeth mor agos ag y mae rhai o’m hannwyl gymrodyr yn ei feddwl.

Fel yr ysgrifennais mewn post arall yn ddiweddar, mae gelynion annibyniaeth yn lluosog ac yn bwerus. Mae ganddynt adnoddau helaeth a holl aparatws y wladwriaeth Brydeinig wrth eu cefn. Maent yn barod i ymladd yn frwnt ac yn ddidostur, ac maent yn barod i frwydro am ddegawdau os bydd angen. Peidied neb â thanamcangyfrif y gorchwyl sy’n ein hwynebu. Peidied neb â thanamcangyfrif yr amser y bydd ei angen i wireddu’r weledigaeth. Peidied neb â thanamcangyfrif yr aberth y bydd rhaid inni ei wneud o hyd.

Nid wyf yn dweud y pethau hyn i beri digalondid i’m cyd-ymgyrchwyr, na llai byth i’w hannog i roi’r ffidil yn y to. Yn bendant ni ddymunaf ddibrisio na diystyru llwyddiannau diweddar Yes Cymru, ac ni hoffwn awgrymu am eiliad fod eu strategaeth a’u blaenoriaethau yn annoeth neu’n anghywir. Na, dim byd o’r fath; mae Siôn a’r tîm wedi dangos arweinyddiaeth gall, graff ac effeithiol iawn dros y ddwy neu dair blynedd ddiwethaf. Rwyf yn eu cefnogi gant y cant.

Yr hyn yr wyf am ei ddweud ar hyn o bryd wrth fy mrodyr a chwiorydd yn y mudiad cenedlaethol yw cadwch y sefyllfa bresennol mewn persbectif, peidiwch â digalonni gormod pan ddaw’r siom anochel gyntaf, peidiwch â chael eich gwyro’n rhy aml gan ddireidi a drygioni’r gwrthwynebwyr, a pheidiwch â blino gormod yn y cyfnod mor gynhyrfus a chyffrous hwn. Fel yn achos Napoleon ym mrwydr Waterloo, mae ’na demtasiwn, wrth weld gwendid cynyddol Wellington ac wrth synhwyro buddugoliaeth ysgubol, i ruthro’n wyllt dros fryn dall gyda dafn olaf eich egni, ond i weld Blücher yn cyrraedd ar y gorwel â’i filoedd o filwyr ffres.

Cadwch yn ffit a bocsio’n glyfar, gyfeillion. Mae ’na sawl pennod o’r hen chwedl hon i’w hadrodd o hyd.

Saturday 27 June 2020

The Gathering Storm

“Mewn gwirionedd, dwy blaid wleidyddol a ddylai fod yng Nghymru hyd oni chaffo hi ei hawliau cenhedlig, sef Plaid Gymreig a Phlaid Wrth-Gymreig, a gwneuthur y blaid olaf yn wannach wannach a ddylai fod ein hymgais pennaf.”

[“In truth, there should be two political parties in Wales until such time as she achieves her national freedom, namely a Welsh Party and an Anti-Welsh Party, and our principal objective should be to make the latter ever weaker.”]

Emrys ap Iwan, ‘Paham y Gorfu’r Undebwyr’, Y Geninen, Hydref 1895

The coalescence and consolidation of anti-Welsh devolution thought, sentiment and action around a single political party was always inevitable, or at least it has been since the Brexit referendum of 2016 and the exponential growth in support for Yes Cymru more recently. There are British nationalist forces at work in the UK that will never allow Wales to become independent or genuinely autonomous without a very long and bitter fight. The mobilisation of Yes Cymru, the flirtation with ‘soft’ nationalism on the part of some key figures in Welsh Labour, and a subtle but real change in the mood music of ‘Indy’ politics more generally, has only served to concentrate minds and hasten action in the Britnat lodges of Wales-shire.

Of course, these forces have been consumed by the matter of Europe for over 40 years, and once that battle was won, they were always going to turn their guns on the devolved nations. For the committed British nationalist, the drift of sovereignty to Brussels and Strasbourg was always part of the same New World Order ‘conspiracy’ as the drift of sovereignty to Cardiff and Edinburgh. Many believed that an invisible global elite was at once carving dear old Blighty up into pieces and serving it on a plate to the nasty Germans and French. They craved an antediluvian, single, sovereign, unitary nation state, and that nation state was the United Kingdom of [English] Great Britain and [English] Northern Ireland. Their work, of course, is only half-done.

No, my Welshnat confrères, anti-devolution politics and rhetoric is alive and kicking and it’s going to get louder and more vicious. They spent 40 years working to ‘free’ the UK from the European Union, and they’ll spend 40 years working to weld its constituent parts back together again if that’s what it takes.

If that is disturbing or disheartening news for some Welsh nationalists and devolutionists, then I’m sorry. But forewarned is forearmed, and if we have any genuine intention of driving our national programme through to completion or even just defending the devolved settlement as it is, it’s a reality that we will need to come to terms with very quickly. We must all have known that there would be a fight at some point, mustn’t we? We have been paying attention to the history of our Celtic cousins over the sea and anti-imperial comrades further afield, haven’t we? We didn’t think we were going to march down from the Sierra Maestra and occupy Old Havana Town without a bit of a scrap, did we?

Well that scrap is coming gyfeillion, and it may last a very long time indeed. The good news is that some of us have been preparing for this discursive ding-dong since at least 1895 and are actually looking forward to it! I hope to write more on these matters in the near future, but in the meantime, your spirits may be lifted somewhat by reading a passage or two by the original Storm Petrel himself, Emrys ap Iwan. The short monograph by D. Myrddin Lloyd in the UWP ‘Writers of Wales’ series is still the best summary of his life and work in English.

Friday 7 September 2018

Why I will be voting for Adam Price

As I have said elsewhere, I’m not sure that objectivity is either possible or necessarily desirable in political commentary of this type. The reason for this is largely derived from my interpretation of epistemology and is of little importance here. However, I do believe that disclosure and honesty are crucial if one seeks to have a lasting impression on the ideas of others.

So, firstly, some disclosure...

I am a Welsh republican, I gravitate towards a Marxist interpretation of economic and social history, but I do believe that individual liberty and the freedom to accumulate a capital surplus is both deterministically inevitable and can be desirable when exercised ethically and proportionately. I seek to eliminate and prohibit the misdemeanours and imperfections of markets and capital, not replace exploitation by the few with tyranny by the many. However, I believe that there is an empirical as well as moral justification for state intervention in service provision, infrastructure development, job creation and industry (and that there always has been), but equally believe that this justification is not absolute or necessarily permanent in every instance.

I voted for Leanne Wood in 2012 and I have subsequently campaigned on the ground for her at all major elections since then. I have supported her publicly and will do so again if she is re-elected. I admire her honesty, integrity and bravery. I share her ambition to eliminate poverty, bigotry and injustice from the world, starting with Wales.

I lived in Ynys Môn for 5 years and had the pleasure of meeting and campaigning with Rhun ap Iorwerth on several occasions. He is a genuinely lovely person and an extremely effective campaigner. I share his vision of a party that engages more widely with the people of Wales; a confident, happy and positive party that seeks to bring everyone along on our journey. He has not been a politician very long, but he has made enormous progress in a short period of time and continues to develop and improve as a potential national leader.

I have admired Adam Price since he was first elected to Parliament in 2001. He takes the physiology of politics seriously, and has made the time-sacrifice we all know we should make, but rarely do, to command the economic and fiscal discourse, not be commanded by it. I thought the 2016 Assembly election manifesto was one of the most inspiring political documents I have ever read. If I go to conference, and I do from time to time, his is the first speech that goes on my ‘must-attend’ list.

Some further disclosure…

I supported this leadership election because I believed that it was the right time to re-assess our priorities as a party and the kind of leadership we want to see. No leader or person in a position of authority is exempt from periodic challenge and appraisal, and as it happens, I believed that if Leanne won again she and the party would be stronger and not weaker as a result.

I think it is healthy to recognise that as individuals we normally approach decision-making with what is known in management theory as ‘ingoing prejudices’. This isn’t necessarily a critical term, it just suggests that for any number of reasons we probably lean towards one option over another before the process begins. Our prejudice may change during the process, but consciously or subconsciously we undergo a process of validation, rejection or change before we make a final decision.

My ingoing prejudice before this campaign was that Adam Price would be the best next leader of Plaid Cymru, although I had never been dissatisfied with Leanne’s leadership, and I knew that Rhun had got so much to offer as well. I therefore determined to give myself plenty of time to observe the campaign, read any campaign literature that was produced and attend a hustings in person.

I also determined that once I had made my decision, I would make it public and campaign openly for that candidate. I have no illusions whatsoever of the importance of my opinions, nor do I care much what anyone else thinks about them, but if we do have an opinion, and we at least believe in the integrity of its formulation (if not the infallibility of the substance itself), then I think that we have a moral obligation to share it with those interested or affected by it.

And so after a month or so of consideration, and having attended the hustings in Pontypridd earlier this week, I am happy to confirm that I will be voting for Adam Price as leader of Plaid Cymru. I believe that he has the intellectual capability to strengthen and sharpen our policy positions and discursive lines of attack. I believe that he is an extremely credible first minister and that he will attract new support from voters and opinion-formers who want competent government and an ambitious vision of step-change for the Welsh economy. I believe that he can identify and communicate effectively with all sectors of society. I believe that he has a sense of controlled urgency that characterises all good leaders. I believe that he will dedicate every ounce of his being over the next few years to furthering the cause of Plaid Cymru, Welsh independence, decentralist socialism and social justice in general, or will die in the process (not literally, I hope…).

And so, I will now be campaigning full-throttle in favour of Adam’s candidacy. However, I will, if I may, politely put him on notice now that if he does win, and thereby has the privilege of leading our party and our movement for a number of years, I will be the first to support a periodic leadership review and election when right and proper to do so.
If Adam doesn’t win, I will give my full support to the winning candidate and I will go out in all weathers delivering leaflets and canvassing the electorate on her/his behalf as I have done in the past. I will promote and defend her/him and the party on social media as resolutely as I would do for Adam. The cause of a Welsh republic is far greater than one man or one woman, and I will continue fighting for it under Adam’s, Leanne’s or Rhun’s leadership, all three of whom I am very proud to be associated with as fellow members of Plaid Cymru.

Saturday 29 October 2016

The Wales Bill: will Wales find its teeth?

It was refreshing to see Prof Richard Wyn Jones publish a direct, unequivocal and “excoriating” criticism of the Wales Bill in the Western Mail yesterday. To date, too many Welsh politicians, lawyers, academics, journalists, commentators and representatives of civil society have couched their criticism of the Bill in measured, polite and even deferential terms, not wanting, it seems, to fall out of favour with the all-powerful Brexit junta which now masquerades as a UK Government. It’s as if they have almost fallen over themselves to apologise for having the temerity to disagree with such a brazen attempt to steel Welsh democracy; fallen over themselves to apologise for the feelings of disgust and offence that they have experienced as a result the Government’s contemptuous insult of Welsh intelligence. And it’s as if they so desperately wanted to believe that Crabb, Cairns and Bebb had innocent, albeit utterly misguided, intentions, that they convinced themselves that all that was needed was a well-penned submission of politely delivered analysis, fact and reason, and all would be well in this harmonious Union of equals.

This blog called it as it saw it nearly 18 months ago. This was a pre-mediated, calculated and intentional attempt to roll-back Welsh devolution in the guise of constitutional re-framing. It had no democratic mandate or legitimacy whatsoever, and has been presented to the people of Wales in a cynical, deceitful and dishonourable way. It was rotten from the beginning and it is rotten now.

If Prof Jones’s article does nothing more than to encourage a few others in positions of authority or influence to find their voice (and their teeth) it will be no bad thing. If, on the other hand, those very same people stand aside and allow what Lord Elystan Morgan described as Whitehall’s “colonial” attitude to prevail, it certainly will be our fate “to be governed on the basis of this nonsense”, as Prof Jones fears, for many years to come; and so might we deserve it.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Question Time, the Wales Bill and Messrs Cairns and Bebb

It will come as no great surprise to report that I am not a Conservative supporter, but it may surprise some that I certainly respect the integrity of many individual Conservative politicians and commentators, particularly here in Wales. It gives me no pleasure to say, therefore, that there is a sort of swaggering arrogance to much of the Conservative Party’s public discourse at the moment, both at a UK level and here in Wales too. It’s as if the General Election result of 2015, the referendum result, the ascent of Saint Theresa, the failure of the centrist Labour coup, the imminent disappearance of UKIP as a serious threat, the guaranteed propaganda support of 90% of Fleet Street and the equally guaranteed lack of proper scrutiny by a woefully compliant BBC, ITV and Sky (with the honourable exception of Channel 4 News), have all coalesced over the last year to embolden Tory MPs and lead them into thinking that they are now invincible, that they can do or say anything without recourse to democratic principle or criticism, that they are unimpeachable.

What is worse, however, is that they genuinely seem to believe their own propaganda. A MAJORITY of the UK population ALL want stricter immigration controls at the expense of free access to the Single Market it seems. EVERYONE who voted to leave the EU did so with a ‘hard’ Brexit alternative in mind. The devaluation of the Pound can have only POSITIVE effects. 36.9% of the vote at a general election is an OVERWHELMING MANDATE for neo-liberal reforms of English public services. A twelve seat majority in Parliament is a LANDSLIDE. And the fact that we have a completely new government that nobody at all has voted for taking the country in a radically different direction is apparently of TRIVIAL IMPORTANCE. It’s been said before, but we really are entering into the era of post-factual politics. If you repeat a lie enough times, people really do start to believe you.

Regrettably, this Westminster arrogance is spilling over into Wales and contaminating Welsh Conservative politics in my opinion. We saw it with Alun Cairns on Question Time on Thursday, making scandalous claims about Plaid Cymru members that even Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents have called “baseless”. But Mr Cairns obviously felt at complete liberty to do this, feels no need to substantiate or explain his accusations after the fact, and feels no need to retract them or apologise. In fact he doesn’t even feel the need to comment at all and just ignores the media’s requests for a statement. He obviously feels ‘untouchable’ at the moment.

Were this just a matter of mischievous behaviour on a television debate programme, I’d be more inclined to just let it pass. But it won’t have escaped the attention of Pedryn Drycin’s readership that Mr Cairns is also responsible for the Wales Bill going through Parliament at the moment, and I’m rather concerned that his new-found ‘confidence’ (if I can put it like that) could end up causing irreparable damage to the constitution of this nation.

As the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the National Assembly reported AGAIN this week, following several months of expert evidence gathering and detailed analysis, the Bill as currently drafted REDUCES the legislative competence of the National Assembly and makes the devolution settlement MORE complex. Let us state that again for clarity in a slightly different way: the Bill WEAKENS Welsh devolution not strengthens it; it makes the National Assembly LESS powerful, not more powerful; and it makes it HARDER for the National Assembly to effectively manage the domestic affairs of Wales, not easier. Those are the facts, and there isn’t a single lawyer, academic, or other expert who would (or has) come to a different conclusion. Furthermore, nobody (as in literally nobody) within Welsh civic society has declared any support whatsoever for a constitutional change of this type. Quite the opposite, they have expressed deep concern and disquiet about the Bill. Mr Cairns, his deputy Guto Bebb, and presumably the Whitehall mandarins who drafted the Bill, are the lone voices of support for this retrograde and reactionary piece of legislation.

Ah, but what does that matter if the Conservative Government in Westminster wants to reduce the powers of the National Assembly, has stated clearly in a manifesto that it will do so, and has an electoral mandate from the people of Wales to put that policy into practice? Well, that’s just the problem isn’t it; they don’t have any of those things. They have never stated openly that it is their policy to reduce the powers of the National Assembly (their 2015 manifesto pledge was to ‘strengthen’ Welsh devolution) and even if they had (which they didn’t), they haven’t won an election in Wales since the mid-nineteenth century, let alone the 2015 General Election, the 2016 National Assembly Election, or a specific referendum on the question. They haven’t sought the people of Wales’s opinion, and it hasn’t been given.

Rather like the Westminster Government’s response to scrutiny on Brexit policy, when challenged on the factual inadequacies of the Wales Bill, Mr Cairns and his deputy simply lie, answer a different question or resort to sophistry. They never engage with the substantive issues and they are never honest about their true motivations. So apparently the Wales Bill STRENGTHENS Welsh devolution, is CLEARER, is the result of CROSS-PARTY AGREEMENT, and was MANDATED by the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto. These things are true only in the imagination of Mr Cairns and Mr Bebb. Nobody else believes them. Nobody.

Now, if in the face of such universal criticism, opposition, and contradiction of your factual argument, you simply press on, force the Bill through Parliament unamended by means of your English Conservative majority, and impose a new, inferior, and insulting constitutional settlement on Wales, ...well, there’s no other word for it really, you’d have to be pretty ‘arrogant’ I’d have thought, and pretty dishonourable as well.

If Cairns and Bebb continue along their current path, history will judge them very cruelly indeed I believe, not only for imposing an insulting constitutional settlement on Wales but also for having the hubris and arrogance to do so by deceit and sleight of hand. It will also reflect very badly on those Welsh Conservative politicians who actively supported them or those who sat on their hands and said nothing at such an important juncture. That would be a great pity, and a disappointment for me personally, as the reputations of many people I had previously respected would be tarnished for ever.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

The Moral Imperative of a Second EU Referendum

There is no such place or political space as ‘being outside’, or ‘being without’ defined, agreed international relations with other countries, particularly one’s neighbours. You either have them or you are not a functioning state in the world trade, financial, movement of people, energy, security, etc., systems. To that extent, ‘exiting’ or ‘leaving’ the EU is a terribly misleading term. It’s a bit like saying ‘leaving society’. You simply can’t exist as a functioning human being without a substantial amount of co-ordination with the other human beings around you. You can’t ‘leave’ society therefore, you can only renegotiate and perhaps change the way you interact with others within it. Some people might have thought they were voting to ‘leave’ the EU on June 23rd, but what they were actually voting for was an undetermined ‘change’ to the UK's formal relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.

Now, it might have been possible to define in some detail what the UK’s vision for that change was in advance of the referendum. The Scottish Government did it before the Scottish independence referendum for example. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution settlements were all defined in legislation before their respective referenda. The European Economic Community was a living, breathing entity when the UK voted to continue its membership in 1975.

The official ‘leave’ campaign could have done the same in June 2016. It could have defined the UK’s future membership of this organisation here, and its non-membership of that one there; this change to immigration policy here, that change to trading terms there; this co-operation to continue here, that one to end there. It might have been comprehensive, or it might have been illustrative. It would have been ‘draft’ only of course, as all new relationships need to be agreed by all parties, as unilateral, self-interested actions rarely result in long-term stability or success (even the most powerful of super-states understands that). But it might have been a start, and it would have given its supporters a degree of authority to say on June 24th, ‘Brexit means […], and the British people support it’. But that didn’t happen. Nothing was defined, not even informally. The referendum mandate was therefore for ‘change’, but what on earth too?

Were our relationships, arrangements and rules of engagement with the rest of the world of little consequence, it might be reasonable to just allow the UK Government to crack on now, define this brave new world, renegotiate something with all parties, set up new systems, and move on. But they are not inconsequential; no, quite the opposite I’d argue. They are existential, even constitutive perhaps. Our formal international agreements define what it means ‘to be the UK in the world’ just as much as societal rules define what it means to be an individual in society. They will affect everything from how we do business in the world, where we trade and on what terms, the shape and size of our economy, how we educate ourselves at university, conduct research, go on holiday, receive emergency treatment abroad, pick grapes in Italy before going to college, get married to someone from Poland, etc., etc., literally et bloody cetera, ad infinitum. We know how we do all those things now. Brexit means that we don’t know how we will do them in the future.

It could be that the scope of change is quite limited in the end of course (angering hard brexiteers) and our lives remain pretty much as they are now. It could be enormous (angering remainers and soft brexiteers) and our lives change in incalculable ways. It could be that a fair majority of UK citizens believe the change to be acceptable and desirable in the final analysis. It could be that a fair majority think it is not. We just don’t know yet, and can’t know until a proposal is put forward and a negotiated, agreed package arrived at with our international partners. It is fair, I believe, to say that we did agree to reject the current definition of ‘us’, but we have no idea what the new ‘us’ is going to be, and who can put their hand on their heart and say that we’ve agreed ‘to be it’ yet?

When people say there is a mandate for Brexit, what they mean is there is a mandate for change. And as a remainer I’d agree with that. The UK Government is entitled (and even obliged) to set out a new vision for the UK’s place in the world and negotiate its particulars with the international community.* It does not have a mandate to press the start button and put that vision into practice however. In what parallel moral universe, for example, would it be right that a government could claim, ‘you said we could do something, so we’re changing everything’?

It should surely be inconceivable to any democrat, therefore, that unknown changes of such potential enormity could be imposed on the citizens of the UK without a second referendum. Brexiteers within and outside the Government will no doubt dismiss and scoff at the idea, but it will not go away. In the absence of a pre-referendum blueprint for ‘Brexit’, it is morally imperative to seek the British people’s endorsement of the final proposal. If David Davis is so confident of building his new British Shangri-La somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, I would have thought he’d relish the opportunity of celebrating its establishment with the roaring approval of the people, wouldn’t he?

*I respect the different mandate given by the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland and they and their political representatives are entitled to determine their own positions vis-à-vis the EU either within the UK or outside it. The Welsh Government has a permanent and continuous obligation to protect the Welsh national interest within its areas of competence and to lobby and negotiate on its behalf outside of them. I would expect them to do this vigorously in respect of the post-Brexit landscape. The people of Wales have a permanent and continuous right to change the nature of their relationship with the UK (and other countries) should they choose democratically to do so. The EU referendum result in Wales in June does not change that in any way.

Sunday 28 August 2016

UKIP and the Conservatives open up new front in the pro-Britain/anti-Wales constitutional debate.

So UKIP have finally shown their cards on Welsh devolution with Mark Reckless claiming that the Brexit vote will result in a decrease of support for the National Assembly in the future, followed quickly by the Conservative leader in Wales, Andrew R. T. Davies, who has claimed that the people of Wales would reject devolution if there was a new referendum “tomorrow”.

The argument is a logical absurdity of course; a popular protest against a ‘big’, ‘distant’, ‘unresponsive’, and ‘unaccountable’ polity (if you believe the anti-EU mantra) would more likely lead to a consequential disillusionment with the next ‘distant/unresponsive’ polity, namely ‘London’, rather than the ‘nearer’ and ‘more responsive’ Cardiff; at least initially. But of course in the minds of the British national right, the Brexit vote was a vote in favour of Westminster over and above all other forms and layers of sovereignty in the UK. It was the ‘silent majority’ reaffirming their oath of allegiance to the Queen (of England) and Country (Anglo-Britain) over pernicious Eurocrats and the traitorous nationalist crachach (of the soft and hard variety).

I’ve not seen any empirical evidence to back up that sort of behavioural profiling, and anecdotally I can confirm that (regrettably, in my opinion) many Plaid and Labour, pro-Welsh, supporters voted ‘leave’ in Ynys Môn, apparently as sceptical of the European political project as their pro-British bedfellows. No doubt ‘anti-devolutionism’ was a factor for the UKIP hard-core in Wales (perhaps 10% of the electorate?), but it is quite a leap of faith to suggest that it was a factor for the other 43% of ‘leave’ voters.  Indeed, as Ifan Morgan Jones has pointed out in his blog, the latest empirical evidence suggests, as it has done for many years, that committed anti-devolution sentiment in Wales is extremely rare nowadays.

But UKIP and the Tories haven’t kicked-off this line of argument, or, to look at it in a slightly different way, ‘deposited’ this combination of rhetorical statements in the pool of Welsh public discourse, because they genuinely believe in its accuracy. No, not in the slightest. What they are actually doing is launching a new discursive ‘front’ in the longer-term pro-Britain/anti-Wales constitutional debate.

You see, discourse works like that. In order to effect political change it matters not a jot what people ‘think’ (people largely think what they are told to think by the state apparatus and its agencies), it matters which lines of discursive argument are in the ascendancy at a moment of political ‘crystalisation’ (an election, a referendum, a vote in Parliament, etc.), or which ‘positions’ are hegemonic at any given time. In order for there to be a successful campaign (and perhaps a vote) to reduce, curtail or even end the Welsh political dimension in the future, there needs to be a preceding (and eventually dominant) discourse of dysfunction, irrelevance and discontentment. That discourse of a devolutionary ‘problem’ is mostly marginal at the moment in Wales, but UKIP and the Conservatives have clearly decided to promote it, and as it gains apparent ‘authority’ in the public domain, so too will their ‘solutions’ such ‘reform’, retrenchment or abolition. Be in no doubt, discourse proceeds ‘opinion’, and discourse can be designed and manufactured.

One thing I certainly agree with Mark Reckless and Andrew R. T. Davies about is that there is huge potential for this discourse to grow and to prevail. I don’t say this because I believe in the inherent ineptitude of Welsh Labour ministers or some inherent Welsh scepticism of Welsh institutions as some would argue, but because the range of agencies available to the British nationalist right to initiate and sustain such a discursive shift is enormous, the range of agencies available to the progressive pro-Welsh coalition to counter such an assault so small, and the ‘neutral’ gate-keepers of discursive confrontations so pitifully incompetent and disinterested.

Freed from their thirty-year war of attrition against the European Union, it can’t be long now before the British nationalist faction in Whitehall, Fleet Street and Sky Towers unleash their fighting dogs on the Scottish and Welsh institutions. They are clever, determined and patient, and they are many in number. Reckless and Davies have much to be optimistic about therefore. Whether there is fight in the old Welsh dog remains to be seen. Forewarned is forearmed however...