By Luke James
Cymru X Chair
A new entry into the Cymru X, not so, Concise Dictionary of Welsh Nationalism today…
Internal Enlargement: a nice and fluffy phrase for independence for all the nations of Europe who want it.
I was in Venice on Friday for the conference of the European Free Alliance Youth, the European wide political party that we are in with other nationalist and regionalist parties.
A chat in one of coffee breaks came onto the phrase ‘internal enlargement’ and how it might be a useful way to put across the idea of nations, like Wales, becoming an independent state within the European Union.
A European Free Alliance conference on independence later in the year might add some more meat to this strategies bone.
It’s not a strategy I have a problem with; after all selling your ideas is half the battle. Maybe if the Liberal Democrats tried it they wouldn’t have to moan so much about other people stealing and repacking their ideas.
I know the people that are developing these ideas are firm believers in Welsh independence and that is why we are staging a conference on independence.
However I am wary that pursuing a strategy where we introduce terms like ‘internal enlargement’ sounds similar to a time when we pursued the ‘Europe of regions’ strategy.
Under the Europe of the Regions plan Wales would be part of an EU that was governed by a patchwork quilt of autonomous regions.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas appears a fan of this approach; John Osmond quotes the Llywydd in his chapter of Breaking Up Britain, Four Nations After a Union.
Elis Thomas writes: “The one thing I regret as leader of Plaid Cymru, is that my own party doesn’t seem to have understood the issues raised by devolution in the same way that other parties have done.
“Plaid Cymru has not adjusted to devolution because you have this improbable allegiance of some people to something called Welsh independence.
“Not since the seventh century was this ever a real political project.”
Thankfully since 2004 Plaid Cymru’s leadership has maintained the position that our parties long term vision is for an independent Wales within the European Union, and I don’t think that statement is contradictory.
I think I speak for most of Cymru X when I say we are not interested in arguing for our countries status as a region or motivated to hit the pavements dropping leaflets and canvassing by the vision of Wales as part of a ‘federal UK’.
We want equality, because that’s when, to quote Breaking Up Britain further, good neighbours become good friends.
But ‘internal enlargement’ could well be an asset to our arsenal.
And by coincidence I was scrolling through the Conservatives European manifesto from 2009 when I came across the section entitled “Support Further Englargement of the EU.”
Which stated: “We have long championed the enlargement of the European Union because we believe that EU membership or its prospect has been crucial in firmly establishing democracy across the continent.
“ The economic benefits are also profound: trade between the UK and the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004 increased by almost 400 per cent between 1992 and 2005, ten times the rate of growth in trade between the UK and the rest of the world. Our MEPs will support the further enlargement of the EU, including to the Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Georgia and the countries of the Balkans, if they wish to achieve EU membership, however distant that prospect may be in some cases.”
So it seems whilst there have been notable defections to the Tory’s recently, the Tory’s have made a defection of their own, to supporting internal enlargement and Welsh independence.
Right on comrades!