The excitement is palpable in anticipation of Saturday’s second AUOB march for independence, to be held in Caernarfon. And what better way to commemorate the 50th anniversary year of Prince Charles’ investiture in the town than with a rallying cry for a green, socialist and republican Wales?
Some will note, or protest even, that the idea of such a march is to put our ideological differences aside and to embrace the movement’s ‘broad church’ for one afternoon, putting the simple idea of an independent Wales front and centre. This idea is important, of course, in terms of a show of symbolic strength and unity, and providing many who have perhaps not spent too much time thinking about the permutations with an opportunity to reflect on their position, and potentially get involved. Gathering a big crowd, with a lot of noise and colour, and putting on an evening gig, is also part and parcel of ensuring the movement is attractive, fun and positive.
However, there are very good reasons – three fundamental ones at least – that dictate that behind this pageantry resides a set of specific values and an idea for an indyWales that will enthuse people for more than one afternoon, which will offer substance and ambition in the face of our political crisis, and provide genuine hope that inspires people to commit and embrace change in the name of the cause.
A positive alternative
An obvious reason as to why the idea of an independent Wales is suddenly becoming attractive to people who never would have dreamt of the idea a few years (or even months) ago, is the political crisis of our age. Within the British State, of course, this is being played out painfully, pathetically, in the Brexit saga, which is finally bringing the former Imperial state to its knees – its long retreat from Empire ending with a whimper. We see the same symptoms as other countries across the world – increasing inequality, worsening living standards, the normalising of racism and intolerance amongst the political classes and in the public sphere. And looming ever larger is the environmental emergency that this generation of politicians – so many of its prominent leaders being hateful, ignorant fantasists – are unwilling to recognize. In such circumstances it is clear that what we need are new polities and a new politics to replace these old regimes that are focused on addressing these common problems that afflict the majority. The movement for indyWales must offer this hope, and a vision of country that plays its part in forging a new world, and new, better reality for our children.
The right thing to do
What is also clear to any person who takes a passing interest in politics is that this current crisis, and the environmental emergency, are a result of a political culture and economic system that has long valued capital, competition and the creation of individual wealth over everything else. Unbridled capitalism and the unrestrained use of our earth’s resources, the exploitation of the working classes in our own society and across the majority world, and a global society that still operates according to hierarchies established during colonialism can only continue the cycle of conflict and poverty that has typified the modern age. Exploring how an independent Wales can challenge some of these patterns and do things differently is not just something we must do to attract people to the movement, it is what we must do to reverse a decline that has huge consequences for us now and in the future.
From a pragmatic perspective, regarding the indyWales movement as an opportunity to change our politics for the better, to institute progressive change, and to forge a better reality for future generations is the only way to make it a success. A radical change such as the creation of a new state is perceived by most people as a huge risk that goes against the grain, and so the rewards must be ones that ensure that it will be worth it. For the moment, the disaster that awaits us in No Deal Brexit Britain is enough to ensure many are seeking alternatives, but we need something substantive to convince them that something better is possible within Wales. And why shouldn’t it be? Wales is different – we have a different history (with peasants and proletariat as prominent as Princes), different values (we’re a multilingual, communitarian country), and different aspirations (people don’t move to Wales to become rich, but to become happy) – and this identity, and our revivalist history are elements we should embrace in regarding the creation of an egalitarian, nature-loving and people-loving society, as a fulfilment of who we are as a people.
If you share some of these aspirations, and you’re seeking some inspiration and hope, please do join us after the rally at Llety Arall in Caernarfon town centre to discuss our principles, read our statement on community energy, and to fill in a membership form so that you can become part of the movement that promises a better future for Wales.