Have a great St Davids day wherever you are and whatever your roots. The preparations for a Welsh weekend on Radio 4 appeared to begin on Gardeners Question Time with a question about a Leek that was growing at right angles, slugs seemed to be the culprit, not the dominant English. However this years St Davids day may be the last within a United Kingdom in the same form since the 17th Century. When the Union Flag was designed the Welsh had been part of the English nation for around 300 years and so those involved at the time felt that there was no need to include the Welsh flag in the mix. As we now prepare for the possible removal of the Cross of St Andrew, it would be a good time to begin a discussion about what we want our new flag to look like. I should declare a partial interest as a child in Merseyside, it seemed that just as Liverpool was judged to be the Capital of Ireland, that Wales was the natural place for our holidays with long waits for the bridge over the Dee at Queensferry with cars and passengers overheating in equal measure. If there was to be a place where England ended and Wales began it was the Jubilee or Blue bridge over the River Dee. When the A494 with its new multi lane bridge was finished in the late 1960s that experience seemed to change, but deep in my psyche is the strong understanding of a welcoming Welsh nation and their evocative flag.
It was evident from the recent Scottish summits that a Westminster Cabinet operates in a very different manner to a Holyrood Cabinet. On that basis alone, I would choose Independence every time. It is clear that Cameron believes he has no role speaking to the Scots, and yet he wants us to encourage our Scottish friends and relatives to vote to retain the Union. What seems to be missing is any grasp that many of us in England require a different form of Government too. I don’t mean that Cameron should attempt to simply replicate the Salmond style of leadership, but that in preparation for a significant change to our nation and its relationship with our neighbours, that Westminster engages with those who would be left behind if Scotland goes its own way. It is no good simply standing up and imploring us to tell our friends not to go, there has to be some sense of what will happen if the Scots do go, what will it look like so we too can understand what’s at stake. It seems clear to me from the discussions over the EU membership that just as Scotland cannot presume that it will be welcome as a new entity, that our own membership must be affected if we lose one of the most important parts of our current quadpartite arrangement. How will losing some of the Scottish military bases, impact on our membership and theirs of NATO? Beyond these matters what about other factors such as the size of the Commons, the impact on the House of Lords, the impact on Balmoral as a place that the Queen of England calls her own and that post a Scottish Independence, the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland taxpayer will pay for? What will we be called if Scotland is to gain its Independence. And perhaps just as important, what will our flag look like, and who gets to decide on these things.
We know that Alex Salmond is attempting to engage Scots in the discussions about Scottish Independence, and apart from a couple of speeches so far David Cameron has ignored us and presumably the Welsh and the Irish. If Cameron is not willing to speak to the Scots, that is his call, but he cannot continue to ignore us, can he? On a personal note I am not sure that a Welsh dragon on a flag that combines the St George Cross and St Patricks Cross will work. However I would like to have a flag that reflects all parts of the new kingdom of nations. Also are there other nations that would like to be part of our future union? These questions won’t stop the queues at foodbanks or interrupt the singing at Glyndbourne or the Eisteddfod but they are relevant for us to be involved in. Let us hope that eventually our coalition Government wakes up to that need!