England/Britain/UK (take your pick, they’re synonyms) has been systematically stealing from Wales for centuries. Land, natural resources, water, minerals, language, culture, autonomy, self-determination, health, wealth, freedoms, lives – all have been remorselessly and ruthlessly plundered. The current position of Wales in the UK as a powerless English colonial possession is entirely due to it being annexed (i.e. violently appropriated) by England in the sixteenth century, and nearly 500 years later nothing has fundamentally altered. But the current London government has taken the traditional imperialism, authoritarianism, belligerence and Cymruphobia of the Tory party to whole new levels of arrogant, autocratic hostility.
This is well illustrated by the Tory’s treatment of rail infrastructure spending. The ‘Barnett Formula’, a mechanism devised in 1978 to ensure a broadly fair pro-rata distribution of public spending between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales based on each country’s % of the total UK population, had been the accepted consensus for over 35 years until the far-right take over of the Tory party. Now confrontation has replaced consensus, unilateral diktats have replaced consultation, and destructive undermining and petty spite are now the default approaches of the Tories to the devolved nations. Wales is particularly prone to such treatment as a Labour stronghold, a long-standing favourite Tory whipping-boy, and a weak pushover that can be abused with impunity compared to Scotland with its strong independence movement and Northern Ireland with its very real potential to join a united Ireland in preference to the failed, dysfunctional UK.
With the cost of phase 1 of the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway in England between London and Birmingham already standing at £40billion and the entire project (including phase 2 lines between Birmingham and Liverpool and Birmingham and Leeds) expected to reach £100billion, if it’s ever completed, the consequential sum that Wales should have received so far for desperately needed railway improvements in Wales should stand at a very useful £2billion and eventually amount to at least £5billion – totals that would transform public transport, air quality, carbon emissions, economic development and connectivity in Wales. Yet Wales has received absolutely nothing, while both Scotland and Northern Ireland have received their correct consequential funding. Why? Because the UK government has come up with a new ruse to rob Wales: classifying HS2 (as well as the £20billion ‘Northern Powerhouse’ lines planned between Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle) as an ‘England and Wales’ investment. Yes, that’s right. Even though all previous rail developments confined to England – most recently the HS1 link from London to the Channel Tunnel and the Elizabeth Line across London – were rightly treated as English projects and thus allowed Wales to receive its proper percentage of the funding; and even though not one inch of HS2’s track will actually be in Wales, get anywhere near Wales, or bring any benefits to Wales, the Tories have scandalously twisted the Barnett Formula, the principles of fairness, the geographical reality and the very concept of a ‘United Kingdom’ in order to brazenly and contemptuously rob Wales of our rightful share of the UK’s vast assets that Welsh taxes, Welsh resources and Welsh workers have disproportionately contributed to for centuries. This is outright robbery and the corrupt Tory crooks can’t even be bothered to defend it – not only because there is no defence but also because they know meek, castrated Wales currently has no way of fighting back. And, to rub salt in the wounds, the Tories no doubt will in due course attribute the inadequacy of the Welsh railway system to a failure of devolution rather than their criminal ransacking of Wales’ already meagre finances – all part and parcel of their relentless, anti-democratic attacks on the very existence of Wales as a political entity.
At least the Tories have done us one favour. The pro-‘Britain’ propaganda onslaught rammed down our throats from cradle to grave stands exposed as the manipulative, lying bullshit it always was:
■The ‘England and Wales’ formulation at best condemns Wales to invisibility and at its core eradicates Wales entirely. How could it do otherwise when England comprises 95.5% and Wales 4.5% of the total? We see this clearly in the collection of statistics. Scottish stats are the responsibility of National Records Scotland; Northern Irish Stats are collected by NI Statistics & Research; English stats by the Office for National Statistics (ONS); and Welsh stats? Oh, they don’t exist. We are just lumped into the ONS statistics (Wales cannot be considered a ‘nation’ in its own right because then England wouldn’t have any colonies at all). This means there are effectively no statistics available about every single aspect of Welsh society, the Welsh economy and Welsh life because the devolution of statistics and censuses was excluded by the Blair government when setting up the Assembly in 1997 – and, despite countless authoritative studies showing the importance of statistical collection to efficient governance at any level, the Tories would die in a ditch rather than devolve anything more to Wales. They are a centralising organisation that hates to share power and, as regards Wales, their aims are in the opposite direction: to reverse the little devolution that exists and ultimately to abolish Wales as a political entity with any autonomy at all (rather similar to Putin’s plans for Ukraine). In terms of statistics, this means Wales is denied any way to identify, prioritise, tackle and solve Welsh-specific issues, and it also means Wales gets tarred with the filthy English brush every time another ‘England and Wales’ stat is released. Now, by using the ‘England and Wales’ device as a cynical new way to deprive Wales of its rights, the Tories have actually conceded what those who want an independent Wales have always known: Wales is an English chattel, shackled and abused by a totally unequal relationship that never operates the other way round. Try to imagine England’s reaction if the Senedd determined England’s cut of the UK budget for just one day! Only independence can end this outrageous, oppressive never-ending war on the very right of Wales to exist.
■The UK, Britain or whatever they want to call it, is a big fat deception. This latest robbery of Wales shows that there is no such thing as the UK except as a tool to fool the thoroughly colonised mind-set. The UK is England: the location of its government, its parliament, its second chamber, its central bank, its vast reserves of plundered booty and the home of 90% of the UK population. English politicians make all the decisions, implement all the policies and have all the powers of veto – and they have made sure there is no written constitution or bill of rights to keep them in check or hold them to account. Wales can never veto an English decision that affects Wales, Wales can never determine its own fiscal policies and Wales can never take charge of its 4.5% share of the immense gold reserves of the ‘Bank of England’ – even though, in theory, this is as much Welsh property as it is English, Scottish or Northern Irish. Ha! Ha! It’s all a con, a duplicitous fraud to keep the farcical ‘Union’ together.
The case for Welsh independence is indisputable. The Labour, Liberal and Green parties in Wales must split from their English overlords and join the independence campaign of Plaid Cymru and other pro-Wales parties as a matter of urgency. CYMRU RYDD!