To mark the 25th anniversary of the Institute of Welsh Affairs 25 authors cast their minds back over their experience of the past quarter-of-a-century and reflect on what this inspires them to hope for in the next 25 years.
The years between 1987, when the IWA was founded, and 2012 saw a transformation in the political, economic and cultural fortunes of Wales. A quarter of a century ago the Welsh economy was still dominated by heavy industry coming apart in the wake of the miners’ strike. Welsh politics were in thrall to a Quango-driven state. Today that era looks altogether like sepia-veiled history. In its place Welsh democracy has been born with the creation of the National Assembly that was granted primary legislative powers in the 2011 referendum. While still struggling with the downturn, the Welsh economy has broken free of what 25 years ago was a third-world structure and is developing a more balanced profile. Meanwhile, Welsh culture has flourished with sport, the arts and the media all gaining recognition on the world stage. Throughout the past 25 years these changes have been closely followed, analysed and promoted by the activities of the IWA.
The contributors to this book were given no specific guidance as to what they should write about, other than they should relate some of their own experience to that of Wales during the fifty-year horizon. Two events in the last 25 years stand out, the miners strike of the mid-1980s and the devolution referendum in 1997. The reflections in this volume make clear the interconnections between the two. They provide the essential background for all that has followed and is likely to emerge in the coming decades.