Today we woke up to the news that Wales (the Welsh Government) will gain powers over water.
The headline paragraph on the BBC’s website shouted out,
“New powers relating to water will be devolved to the Welsh Government under changes to the Wales Bill.”
Then, below it clarified this statement,
“Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he would scrap his ability to block some laws made in Wales about water.” (Italics our own)
As several twitter users pointed out, the devil will be in the detail:
But this gem of a tweet does far more than merely point out the lack of detail.
We need full control of all of our natural resources.
Which brings me onto my biggest gripe with this story, which is the continued misappropriation of the Tryweryn injustice and shame as a story about the control of water.
Alun Cairns, in this case, said that this decision ‘puts right a “long outstanding injustice” 50 years after the flooding of a Gwynedd village to create a reservoir to supply Liverpool.’
Now I won’t repeat the story of the drowning of Capel Celyn here. You probably (hopefully) already know it. If not, here’s a link to brief history.
It’s fair to say that the control of water resources has been a bone of contention for the Welsh National Movement for many decades, and the tragic case of Capel Celyn does play a significant part in the argument around who should control our water resources.
But don’t let Alun Cairns and his ilk put the issue of Tryweryn to bed with this latest news.
Because water was not the sole issue at play. In fact when the discussions started the control of the water was never a material consideration.
The true issue at play here is who makes the decisions.
Tryweryn was about the fact that a decision could be made regarding the future of a whole community in Wales completely against the wishes of that community itself and against the wishes of the country.
The bill was proposed by Liverpool Corporation for the benefit of Liverpool, and opposed by all bar one of the MP’s representing Welsh constituencies.
It was the clearest example of how pathetically weak Wales was/is in influencing decisions on the banks of the Thames.
It was/is the most perfect example of why Wales needs to control her own future.
Tryweryn is a continuous reminder of how weak we are politically.
Alun Cairns might believe that this puts the injustice to bed. But while Westminster has the ability to enforce large scale development such as nuclear reactors (whether you are for it or against it); use our land, sea and air for its military purposes; or let our communities wither away by cutting off vital investments and funding, then we will continue to fight for our right to control our own resources and our own futures.
While Wales continues to be a colony, and a play thing for Westminster, we will never forget Tryweryn.