Leanne Wood: Wales has a part to play in future of our sister Celtic state

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NOT for the first time in history, we Welsh seek involvement in the great debate that surrounds the prospect of an independent Scotland.

Our last significant involvement centred on the campaign led by William the Welshman – or Wallace, though there were one or two Welsh archers on the other side.

Today’s debate, of course, is not one that looks to the past. The potential lies all in the future. The Scottish referendum is an exciting opportunity, not to discard but to redefine the ever-evolving relationships between the nations of these islands.

The truth is that the current political union has passed its expiry date. It’s time for a 21st century redraft, as the SNP has argued, a new social union that marks a new era where differences are respected but collaboration can flourish on the basis of equality and partnership.

Scotland and Wales, Celtic nations both, border a single country, a millennium and a half of interaction which has shaped our respective cultures like no other. England is not just a neighbour to us. She is our sister nation too.

Feeling Welsh or Scottish has never been dependent on the existence of a Welsh or of a Scottish state. In precisely the same way, people’s sense of Britishness does not need a British state to sustain it.

The concept of Britain has proven itself to be as adaptable in the past as it should be in the future. With independence, a new Britain can begin to emerge.

My nation’s journey on the constitutional path may not immediately mirror the Scottish experience, but within these islands, different countries enjoying differing forms of self-government are not unusual.

The British-Irish Council – our version of the Nordic countries’ collaborative forum – is already acting as a laboratory of innovation, from plastic-bag taxes to minimum alcohol pricing. In a new age of equality, this co-operation can be extended to more issues, from climate change to broadcasting.

Instead of clinging to the straitjacket of the single state, it’s time we embraced this future Britain, a neighbourhood of nations, sovereign, democratic and free.

• Leanne Wood AM is leader of Plaid Cymru.