Ignored, neglected and patronised, Wales may now prompt as much change to the UK as has Scotlandby Kenneth O Morgan / October 16, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
The years 2014 and 2015 bring with them a tsunami of anniversaries. This year we commemorate the First World War; next year it is the Magna Carta. Scotland, of course, celebrated the anniversary of victory over the English at Bannockburn by voting decisively against becoming an independent state. But another historic landmark in the remote Celtic fringe has been totally ignored: the 600th anniversary of the ending of Owain Glyndwr’s uprising in Wales in 1414-15. Wales’s charismatic national hero is forgotten. He is as mythic a figure as King Arthur. No Welsh Braveheart popularises his memory, while his burial-place is unknown.
Nevertheless, a creative new phase in the projection of Welsh identity may yet emerge from the ashes of defeat for the cause of independence in Scotland. The preservation of the Union there, along with the pledges wrung from panicky British party leaders for greater “devo-max”-type powers for the Scottish parliament, has implications for Welsh devolution. The Welsh people voted for it by the very narrowest of margins in 1997, and its early years aroused more cynicism than enthusiasm in the public. Over the past seven or eight years, however, since the Government of Wales Act of 2006, and thanks in great measure to Rhodri Morgan’s dynamic leadership as First Minister, d…