Plaid Cymru has warned of a "grim" outcome for Scotland if it votes against independence next month and insisted that if the Scots leave the UK, Wales can benefit. The party has seized on polling evidence that the English want Scots to stop benefitting from public spending above the UK average.
The same poll showed that the Welsh agree with the English on this issue, although there's little support in either Wales or England for Scottish independence. Plaid is supporting the campaign by its SNP sister party for a 'yes' vote next month.
Public opinion in England on how Scotland should be treated if it votes ‘no’ paints a grim scenario for Scotland if its people vote against independence in the referendum. There could be public demand in England for a backlash against Scottish public expenditure and against the voting rights of Scottish MPs. This idea of ‘playing hard-ball’ with Scotland is not likely to help rebalance the UK or solve the problem of political and economic power being concentrated in the south-east of England.
Plaid Cymru maintains that the emergence of an independent Scotland would be in Wales' economic, social and political interests. We have said that following the Scottish referendum there needs to be a new era of self-government for Wales based on a reserved powers model, so that we have a more equal relationship between Wales, England and any other parts of the UK.
If Scotland votes for independence, Welsh voters would want the rest of the UK to back Scottish efforts to join the European Union and NATO but English voters would oppose offering any support. That's the most startling finding of newly published research into attitudes in the two countries to the Scottish referendum.
Support Scotland joining EU and NATO?
Wales 34% agree, 32% disagree
England 26% agree, 36% disagree
The YouGov poll for Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities also found that although the Welsh are against the idea of letting an independent Scotland keep the pound sterling, there's not the overwhelming opposition found in England.
An independent Scotland sharing the pound?
Wales 36% agree, 44% disagree
England 23% agree, 53% disagree
Both the Welsh and the English strongly support more devolution for Scotland if it rejects independence next month. However, both countries are against allowing the Scots to carry on having public expenditure above the UK average.
Scotland's current spending levels are often contrasted with the position in Wales, where politicians of all parties have called for a more generous settlement to reflect Welsh needs. Nevertheless the Welsh appear to feel less strongly about the issue than the English.
Public spending in Scotland reduced to the UK average?
Wales 48% agree, 12% disagree
England 56% agree, 9% disagree
The findings are the result of a large-scale survey carried out in April. Like other polls, it found little difference in between Wales and England when it came to a strong desire for Scotland to vote to stay in the UK
Should Scotland be an independent country?
Wales 19% agree, 61% disagree
England 19% agree, 59% disagree
It’s interesting that while there is almost no difference in the views of people in England and Wales about what they wish to see happen in the Scottish referendum, there are clear differences in how people wish to see the aftermath dealt with. Put bluntly, the English are more inclined to want to play hard-ball with Scotland. Those in Wales are notably more cautious about this, and more favourable to a more conciliatory approach.
– Prof Roger Scully, Cardiff University
Researchers at Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities, working alongside the polling agency YouGov, consulted a representative sample of 3695 adults in England and 1027 in Wales. The surveys were undertaken in late April 2014.
An opinion poll for ITV Wales shows that if Welsh people had a vote on Scottish independence, they would vote 'no' in large numbers. People were asked the question that will appear on the ballot paper in Scotland this September. They were also asked how they would vote in a Welsh referendum.
Should Scotland be an independent country?
Don't know/Wouldn't vote 21%
Should Wales be an independent country?
Don't know/Wouldn't vote 14%
The answer about Welsh independence didn't change much when people were asked to assume that a referendum in Wales was after Scotland had voted to leave the United Kingdom.
Should Wales be an independent country?
Don't know/Wouldn't vote 15%
YouGov polled a sample of 1092 people across Wales, 12-14 May 2014.
An independent Scotland would establish formal economic links with Wales, the Scottish First Minister has promised. Alex Salmond has pledged to create a 'Welsh-Scottish Economic Forum' if there's a 'Yes' vote in September's referendum. The SNP leader said,
The SNP values our friendship and long-standing relationship with Wales. Independence for Scotland offers us all a chance to rebalance the economy of these islands and to do so in a way that ensures we can all benefit from our strengths and resources.
Following a Yes vote this September, the Scottish Government will seek to build on this relationship by establishing a special economic forum to ensure that we maximise opportunities for business and trade between Scotland and Wales.
– Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland
The commitment came following a meeting with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood during her visit to Scotland this week. She says it supports her argument that Scottish independence is 'in Wales' economic, social and political interests.' She added,
The commitment to building closer economic ties between our two countries has been demonstrated by First Minister Salmond's intentions to establish a joint economic forum between Wales and Scotland.
Such a forum could bring together our businesses and universities to collaborate on a range of economic opportunities such as renewable energy projects and natural resources.
Our countries enjoy a strong relationship and following a 'Yes' vote in September this will be renewed and strengthened further.
Former First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, says Wales would be left in an 'unsustainable' position if Scotland leaves the UK. Writing in the latest issue of Prospect magazine he says Scottish independence would have 'huge implications' for Wales and Northern Ireland, but which would be 'worse for Wales.'
How would the Celts make their voices heard under those conditions? The problem would be worse for Wales than for Northern Ireland. Thirty years of the Troubles followed by the euphoria over the Good Friday agreement in 1998, combined with American interest in the Province have guaranteed that Northern Ireland will never get ignored. There are no such guarantees for Wales.
He writes that the fate of Wales is unlikely to be in the minds of Scottish voters but hopes they'll think about effect of their decision.
Nobody is suggesting a mass rally of Welsh men and women in Princes Street just before Scotland's Independence vote. In the unlikely event that such a gathering were organised, it would probably have the reverse effect of that intended.
We do though, need to percolate that Welsh plea into the minds of the Scottish electorate; a plea that says, 'If you leave the UK, Wales becomes the tail which can never ever wag the English dog!'
You can read Rhodri Morgan's full article if you go to Prospect's website by clicking here. But he ends with another vivid animal metaphor which he was so often associated with during his time as First Minister:
In one of my many conversations with Alex Salmond about the position of the Celtic Countries within the UK, I once upset him mightily by referring to the UK as an 'elephant and three fleas.' He accused me of a form of Celtic self-loathing. I told him that you had to 'clock' the enormous disparity between England and the rest.
And I thought then, as I still think, that we fleas ought to stick together.
– Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister, writing in Prospect Magazine.
In an interview for this week's Sharp End, Leanne Wood tells me that Plaid Cymru's 'central and core aim is to achieve an independent Wales.' Long-term Plaid-watchers will say that that aim hasn't always been clearly stated and she agrees.
She also agrees that Wales is a long way from being in the position Scotland finds itself and seriously deciding whether or not to break away from the rest of the UK. But she tells me 'things change and things can change very quickly.'
I'll be discussing what she says and any other ways that Wales could be affected by developments in Scotland with my guests in tonight's Sharp End at 1035pm on ITV Cymru Wales.
The First Minister of Wales should tell Scottish voters that he'd be prepared to see £4bn cut from Scotland's budget to boost the funding Wales receives, according to the SNP. Carwyn Jones will make the case for remaining part of the United Kingdom in a speech in Edinburgh this evening.
The SNP has highlighted the First Minister's repeated calls for fairer funding for Wales by reforming the Barnett formula which works out how much of a share of UK spending devolved nations should received.
But the SNP's Linda Fabiani says that if Scotland remains part of the UK after next year's Independence referendum and the formula is changed it will mean a cut of £4bn. She says Carwyn Jones should make that clear.
Carwyn Jones has never been shy about his desire to change the Barnett formula in a way that would disadvantage Scotland.The Welsh First Minister has the perfect opportunity to use his visit to Scotland to spell out to people here just how much he wants Scotland’s budget cut by if there is a No vote next year.
With a Welsh Commission suggesting that Scotland’s funding could be cut by a staggering £4 billion in a single year, these are major cuts that are being proposed which would have a devastating impact on communities across Scotland.
Scotland already more than pays its own way in the UK, but the dismal future being offered by the No campaign would see people in Scotland disadvantaged even further.
With all of the UK parties lining up to cut Scotland’s budget if there’s a No vote, only the full powers of an independent Scotland will ensure that all of Scotland’s resources are used to benefit people living here.
The fairest solution for everyone is for Scotland to gain full control over our own tax and spending decisions and only a Yes vote next year will secure that for people in Scotland.