Plaid Cymru’s 220 page report titled ‘Towards an Independent Wales’ is to be welcomed.
It is not a document to be ignored or simply immediately rubbished by political adversaries.
The Commission’s report lays out in detail the party’s long term vision for a self-governing Wales. It is also an important contribution to the national conversation, albeit sadly not at a governmental or official level hitherto.
The present Welsh Labour government should be at the forefront of this developing debate. Labour leaders often refer to the need for a Constitutional Convention – well, even if one is not established for the UK, most certainly it should to be formalised in Wales.
Plaid Cymru has now put its stall in the public domain and no one can again say that they have not addressed many of the issues confronting the future governance of our nation. It is now beholding the other political parties in Wales to do similar – and not just in a throwaway, generalised manner with mere sound bites.
The Commission report deals with important matters such as the establishment of a National Commission, the constitution of an independent Wales, the current fiscal gap and a Welsh self-determination bill.
The role and responsibilities of the National Commission is crucial to ‘’ensure maximum awareness, participation, and involvement ….and test the views of the people of Wales in an initial exploratory referendum, setting out constitutional options’’.
As the document implies, Plaid Cymru recognises that Wales is on a journey ‘towards independence’ and of necessity, a number of economic and political milestones will need to be met along the way.
To that end, the report identifies two confederal options for consideration – one proposed by the leader Adam Price for a Benelux type solution and the other by Glyndwr Cennydd Jones for a League of the Isles. Both will merit and require further deliberation and examination.
I believe the issue of confederalism is crucial in the current political climate. There are many proponents of a federal solution within the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. It clearly has a head of steam behind it. Hence the need to detail confederalism as a positive, sustainable solution to the challenges faced.
If one is tempted to be critical of the report, then there is a tendency for Plaid Cymru to typically hedge its bets in relation to making a commitment to a definite way forward. However, that state of affairs might be expected in the uncertain economic and political climate ahead.
Further, many of the actions identified as necessary to achieving independence are dependant upon Plaid Cymru forming a government following the Senedd elections in 2021.
Whilst it is understandable why the report has taken that approach, the reality on the ground dictates that the debate in Wales demands cross-party participation. Plaid Cymru is currently far from being in a position to form a government after May 2021, so what happens then?
To my mind, the next Welsh government, regardless of party, should put into effect the National Commission proposal, if nothing else.