Before I joined the Labour Party, I joined my union.

I have been a trade unionist all of my working life. I have always believed in the collective strength of a union and the benefits that it brings to members. Over the years, I have come to question where that strength and power lies in our political union in the UK.

Mark Drakeford and Adam Price have announced their agreed intention to increase the size of our Senedd in order to provide Wales with a government capable of legislating for our country.


It is clear that Wales itself understands it must be able to govern its own affairs. However, significant restrictions still remain on our Senedd’s powers whilst the current Westminster government has made clear its intention to wrestle back as much central control as possible from devolved nations.

And what power does Wales have to resist this?

We are limited to an unsuccessful court challenge to the Internal Markets Act, funded by our public purse, against our own UK Government. Our autonomy to run our country through the government that has been elected by the Welsh people is being threatened.

Many believe the independence movement growing within Welsh Labour is a reaction to successive Conservative UK Governments which Wales has never voted for. Whilst the current flavour of the UK Government is deeply unpopular within Welsh Labour, this is not the fundamental driver for support.

Labour members understand there are issues with the union for Wales which are exacerbated, not created by the current Conservative government in Westminster.

The National Wales: Rachel Garrick is the new president of Labour for an Independent Wales and has been an active Labour member of 20 years. Rachel Garrick is the new president of Labour for an Independent Wales and has been an active Labour member of 20 years.

The Barnett Formula is overly simplistic and does not take into account the make up of each country’s population or additional socio-economic needs.

This is made worse by the withholding of funds for projects prioritised by the UK Government without consultation to Wales. Controversial deductions include the now infamous High Speed 2 project whilst significant sums are dedicated to the royal family.

The funding formula for Wales also does not consider our own tax revenue nor give us a full opportunity to prioritise our own investment.

Whilst these issues are very clear under a Conservative government that has driven the UK into a cost of living crisis and the brink of recession, Wales’ fortunes have never been well thought of by a distant administration in England, regardless of the political flavour of government.


This brings us to the question: what power does Wales have to change and improve its standing, its economy and its future within the UK?

Mark Drakeford’s government knows very well that the root of power and growth for Wales lies within the actions of the Senedd. This is something that Mark Drakeford has demonstrated and grown through necessity during his term as First Minister when Wales has needed to take bold decisions to protect the health of its nation and its economic fate during the pandemic.

Welsh Labour does have a bolder vision for its future and the future of the UK and has appointed Mick Antoniw not just as Counsel General but also as Minister for the Constitution.

With the knowledge that Scotland may well hold a successful referendum on independence, being prepared for changes within the UK is essential.

It is likely that, despite Welsh Labour’s vision of a federal system of governance for the UK that Wales would have a very minor voice in any such change. We want and need equal standing as a national partner in the UK.

However, we have only 6% of the UK’s MPs. Imminent boundary changes will reduce this number by a further 20%. This is a tiny voice for an entire country and gives Wales no equity or power within the international structure of the UK.

Unions of all kinds should empower members. They should be mutually maintained to allow equitable benefits and outcomes.

To achieve this, representation needs to be strong. Wales' representation due to numbers and the structure of the UK government is disenfranchising to the Welsh people, through no fault of Welsh MPs who frequently punch above their weight.

It is clear that in terms of the UK, Wales has no power in this union and this needs to change.

Rachel Garrick is a trade unionist and a newly elected councillor on Monmouthshire County Council. She is also the new president of the group Labour for an Independent Wales and has been an active Labour member of 20 years.

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