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About this Forum

Post  Admin on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 14:59

The main focus of the other forums on this site is to discuss the shape an independent Wales should take. However, there is one related issue which is just as important: the matter of how we get there.

It is all very well to work out the details of how a better Wales would operate, but we also need to engage positively with our fellow countrymen and women to persuade them that our vision for the future is better than remaining part of the United Kingdom. So this forum is intended to be the place where we talk about the general direction of devolution and independence ... the strategies and tactics we should adopt to get us there.

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The first question to ask is how we see it happening. Is independence going to be the end result of a step-by-step process of gaining more autonomy within the UK, followed by an eventual final vote on independence ... or will this process get us nowhere fast or, even worse, nowhere at all? Are we fooling ourselves if we think we will ever get to be independent just by moving a step at a time away from the stake to which we're tethered; that although we can move further away from the stake, the further we move away, the harder it will be to pull the stake out of the ground?

At present the consensus seems to be on the step-by-step model, so the question to ask is what the steps should be? Should we only focus on one step at a time, or should set out a complete route map? The difficulty with the first is that we might lose momentum if even a small step is blocked or delayed. The difficulty with the second is that each step might be portrayed as just another move towards inevitable independence, rather than a sustainable destination in its own right.

There have been a number of Commissions set up in the past. The last to report was the Richard Commission, but only some of its recommendations were adopted. What do we expect from Emyr Jones Parry's All Wales Convention, or from Gerald Holtham's Commission on Funding and Finance? Should we rely on bodies such as these as the only meaningful forum for debate, or should we be doing things more directly? If so how? Is there room for groups such as Cymru Gyntaf or are such groups doomed to failure without support from the political parties? How do we influence the policies of the main parties in Wales, and are any new parties or political groupings necessary?

How do we go about raising public awareness of the issues involved? Do we even try to explain the Byzantine intricacies of the 2006 Government of Wales Act and Legislative Competence Orders, or do we need to put things in much starker and simpler terms in order to win over the general public? How do we present independence for Wales as an attractive, realistic and achievable option rather than as an eventual goal?

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Taking a wider view, what can we learn from what is now happening in Scotland? Will the outcomes of the SNP's National Conversation or the Unionist parties' Calman Commission point the way to what we can expect to happen in Wales? How would English devolution change things? How should we be proactive in the shaping and informing debate in both Scotland and England?

Looking further afield, what can we learn from other nations in similar positions to our own in Europe such as the Catalans, Basques and Galicians, or the Flemish and Walloons? Can we use the EU to help further our aims? What can we lean from amicable separations such as that between the Czech Republic and Slovakia?

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