Plaid Cymru and the Scottish referendum

Wales Flag

The decision of Scotland will have a larger effect on Wales than most realise, as shown by the comments of Plaid Cymru this week.

The leader of Plaid Cymru (the national party of Wales) Leanne Wood spoke of her support for Scottish independence, in paticular because of the NHS. The increasing privatisation of the NHS, she stated, threaten their ability to "implement the values of our respective nations." Wales and Scotland are both similar in wanting to keep "public services in public hands" and Wood believes the only way to secure the NHS's legacy is if Scotland is independent.

It is evident then, that Plaid Cymru backs Scottish independence, but what is interesting is what it will mean for Wales if Scotland votes Yes. Wood spoke very much of Scotland and Wales as similar countries; if Scotland needs independence to secure a satisfactory healthcare system, then surely Wales will need the same? Devolution has ensured Wales has greater autonomy, and the country still has a strong sense of national pride that is comparable to Scotland, with Welsh-speaking schools, and a greater push of Welsh language by the government in recent years.

The Tory government slashed Wales' budget by 1.7 billion since 2010, and in a challenging economic climate, with the percentage of children living in severe poverty in 2011 higher in Wales than in England or Scotland, there is a strong argument for those backing pro-independence. Woods has predicted that Wales will be independent "within a generation."

The former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley has also spoken of the consequences for Wales, regardless of a Yes or No vote. Wales could, he suggested, become "marginalised" as Scotland grows in importance, becoming "on the fringes" of Westminster, as Parliament evolves into being more "London centric."

It is apparent, then, that the referendum could not only motivate change in Wales, but also force it, with the country having to fight to be heard. By backing Scottish independence, Plaid Cymru has secured powerful momentum and a recipe for change in Wales; the only question is, will the people vote Yes?