Monday, 25 May 2020

What would the "Welsh Mi5" be like? And other rarely asked questions of independence

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on the current devolution settlement. Some feel that devolution as a principle has failed when tested by a crisis and that the response should be exclusively run by the UK Government. To others, there is frustration that UK Government and national media have too often failed to distinguish between which policies affect which nations and a feeling that one clear voice from Wales alone is the solution. Of course, many of those holding these views were either opposed to devolution or in favour of Welsh independence before the pandemic and are simply reading the current challenges over their pre-existing view point. However, that is not to dismiss that this crisis has raised questions about our current devolution settlement. I suspect we are some way from knowing the full story and that might well be a matter for an inquiry.

Setting the Covid-19 response to one side for a moment, if this emergency is the moment that turbo-charges either the independence movement or the Welsh Parliament abolitionist movement, that leads to many more questions as to the form of the state and how it would engage with the electorate.

For this blog post, I want to ask a few questions of those favouring independence. It is one thing to highlight what would be different in domestic policy, though much of that is already in the remit of the Welsh Government and Welsh Parliament, but quite another to consider what a Welsh foreign and defence programme would look like. For example:
  • Would Wales have a similar scale of diplomatic service as the UK currently does? If not, how would current influence levels be maintained?
  • What format would our domestic intelligence service adopt?
  • Would Wales have a foreign intelligence service?
  • To what extent would Wales have a signals intelligence service?
  • How could Wales compensate for the (presumable) loss of permanent representation on the UN Security Council?
  • What would be the scale of a Welsh navy, army and air force?
  • Would Wales provide military personnel to peacekeeping missions?
I don't ask these questions because I think they in themselves disprove the case for independence, but because a credible proposal for Welsh self-government would require answers.