Occasionally, I get asked how it was that I became involved in the Welsh national movement. The answer is that I had what you might call an epiphany – like the flicking of a switch – one evening in 2016. I saw a flyer advertising a meeting that Leanne Wood was hosting in my local pub and, having been politically interested but largely inactive, I went along out of interest.
Was I swept up by ideas of a ‘free, proud nation’? A ‘Wales that can stand on its own two feet’? Not really. Isolated, these phrases don’t mean much. Actually, what Leanne said (in paraphrased form) to make eighteen-year-old me decide to become involved with the national movement was this:
- A lot of Welsh people are extremely poor and suffer as a result of austerity, poor infrastructure, and depleted education and health systems.
- Wales as a whole is very poor, especially when compared to the other nations of the UK.
- Welsh people have to live with a psychological cringe, which convinces them that they are inferior, stupid, undeserving of respect.
- Welsh people can’t be accurately represented in Westminster because their MPs only constitute a minute fraction of elected representatives entrusted to make decisions on our behalf. Our crises of poverty, mental illness, and unemployment will never be a priority.
- Young people leave Wales in droves because there aren’t enough job opportunities and affordable housing for them.
- The British state and its government is imperialist, waging destabilising wars in the Middle East which cost huge scores of human life, as well as billions of taxpayers’ money.
- If Wales were independent, we would have the opportunity to build afresh a political system that represents our citizens, combats poverty, unemployment, the housing crisis, racism and sexism, class inequality – a peaceful, internationalist nation opposed to war and imperialism.
These were simple, true facts, that I could – and this is crucial – see evidence of in my day-to-day life. This pub meeting took place three months after the Brexit referendum, in which quite a few people I knew voted Leave. When I asked one why, he said that:
- He couldn’t find a job anywhere, no-one he knew could, things were bad enough that he didn’t have anything to lose, and
- He didn’t feel represented by the political establishment. It needed a blow to the stomach.
Both of these reasons chime exactly with what Leanne was saying – and that’s the point I’m trying to make. The key of the Welsh national movement should be to highlight the links between the problems people are facing and the entrapment of our nation within the British State.
Granted, discussions are being had about Welsh independence, but these discussions are only taking place amongst a small group of the Welsh population – these are discussions in the margins. Many of the discussions are back-to-front. They have proclaimed the dream of an independent Wales, without explaining why they’d want us to be independent in the first place.
We have to paint a picture of the kind of independent country we want to be before we can step towards it.
This is why I’m so excited for the launch of Undod. Until now, much of the cohesive, mature, and radical action of the movement has been the reserve of individuals. Undod is bringing these individuals together into a collective dedicated to the vision of an equal, prosperous, outward-looking country, and the achievement of this through radical and visionary means that the political establishment has failed to utilise. It’s not just another political party – it’s a movement by the people, for the people.