Support for Welsh independence grows as confusion reigns over Labour’s plans to finance devolution

Will Labour keep the Barnett Formula intact as pledged in today’s Daily Record in Scotland, or will it reform system of funding as Carwyn Jones has argued?

Will Labour keep the Barnett Formula intact as pledged in today’s Daily Record in Scotland, or will it reform system of funding as Carwyn Jones has argued?

With Scotland’s date with destiny just days away, new polling suggests that the past few months has seen a substantial increase in support for Wales becoming an independent country.

According to the latest Welsh Political Barometer polling conducted by YouGov for ITV Wales, asked how they would vote in a referendum on whether Wales should be an independent country (if Scotland votes to go it alone) 17 per cent said ‘Yes’ compared to 69 per cent who said ‘No’.

Asked how they would vote if a referendum were held tomorrow, 17 per cent continued to say ‘Yes’, with 70 per cent indicating that they would vote ‘No’.

The results stand in contrasts to those published by ICM in its polling for the BBC, released to coincide with St David’s Day earlier in the year, which found that 5 per cent of respondent thought Wales should become an independent country.

Meanwhile, as the leaders of the three main UK parties have today united to pledge new and substantial powers for Scotland if it votes to remain within the Union, YouGov polling finds that 38 per cent of voters in Wales support the idea of Cardiff Bay having powers to raise or lower the levels of income tax in Wales, up from the 32 per cent who supported this option when YouGov last carried out a similar survey in June/July.

The proportion of those in Wales opposing such powers being handed down to the Welsh Assembly has decreased from 42 per cent to 39 per cent.

The findings come amidst a heated debate in Wales over future funding for devolution.

Whilst Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have signalled their intention to maintain the Barnett Formula, in 2009 the Independent Commission on Funding and Finance for Wales, chaired by Gerald Holtham, used its interim report to warn that Wales was underfunded to the tune of £300 million a year under the Formula, which Holtham described at the time as ‘arbitrary and in ‘urgent need of reform’.

Little wonder, then, that Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has used today’s First Minister’s Questions in Wales to accuse Carwyn Jones of failing to stand up for Wales in not securing a needs based funding formula.

Responding, however, the first minister explained, “Ed Miliband has made it clear, and this is something I agreed with him, Wales’ under-funding will be addressed under a Labour government” – raising the crucial question as to what Labour’s position actually is.

Will it keep the Barnett Formula intact as pledged in today’s Daily Record in Scotland, or will it reform system of funding as Carwyn Jones has argued?

Ed Jacobs in a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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