At least this is what the possessive nationalist SNP called North Sea oil, back in the 1970’s.
Almost out of the blue, the old refrain of Scotland being too skint to be independent was for the birds. Scotland was loaded and England was on the back foot of abject poverty.
Wales was starting to agitate for cultural nationalism by using the Welsh language as a weapon to achieve a fanciful and utterly deluded, RS Thomas independent end. Arson and the jailbird Saunders Lewis were back on the agenda and English hating had become the nationalist sport of the ‘Home Rule Army of Wales’ as Plaid Cymru was originally called.
Political nationalism was on the rise in both countries – LFW uses the word ‘countries’ reservedly, neither are sovereign States – with oil and a minority language being used as the foundation stones for a new Celtic revival.
In a by-election held in the Labour heartland of Merthyr Tydfil in 1972, Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) gained 37% of the vote and came within 4000 votes of winning the seat. In 1973 the electorally bomb proof Labour seat of Glasgow, Govan, fell to the SNP candidate and firebrand Margo MacDonald.
In the final days of his government Harold Wilson, in his profound wisdom and no doubt in an effort to appease those who would divide and conquer, set up a Royal Commission on the Constitution.
The Kilbrandon Report, named after the Scottish judge who completed the Commission’s work following the death of his predecessor, Sir Geoffrey Crowther.
The Report was explosive.
The majority who sat on the Commission proposed elected assemblies in Wales and Scotland; it should be noted however, ‘that none of the said Commissioners supported outright separation’.*
What the Report did do, was ‘endorse the central nationalist claim that Scotland and Wales had distinct identities and interests that deserved special recognition.’*
The gauntlet of a war on centralised government had been thrown down and it wasn’t going to take prisoners.
‘The fundamentals of Britain’s territorial constitution would be in contention, as they had not been since the battles over Irish Home Rule before and immediately after the First World War.’*
Scotland, it cannot be denied, has a valid claim to a separate ‘identity’, one only has to consider its constitutional history, legal system, contributions to politics, philosophy, engineering, literature and the arts generally, however LFW must argue that Wales has few of these things and is merely a poor relation attempting to create a nation state where none before existed.
Scotland enjoys some serious history. Wales does not.
Lord Kilbrandon and his team meant well in 1973, but the seeds they planted have now grown into a bloody great, venomous Triffid!
*‘Britain Since 1918’ – David Marquand