There’s been a big focus on membership numbers in the Welsh independence movement as of late. YesCymru have been diligently tracking their swelling ranks on social media recently, and it makes for incredible reading: membership has risen from around 2,500 at the start of this year to over 16,000, which by most metrics makes it the second-largest political organisation in Wales.
It’s not hard to explain this unprecedented growth: the divergent approaches to tackling Coronavirus among the UK’s devolved nations has offered a glimpse of the political possibilities available when freed from the inadequacies of Westminster governance. Most crucially, it has also given people the confidence that such a notion is something worth actively fighting for.
Yet beyond this wave of enthusiasm, and the great job YesCymru have done to normalise the idea of national independence, a few key questions linger. Most pressingly, what now? How does an organisation turn its recruits into activists? What can the membership of an organisation actually do, beyond simply putting their name (and money) forward in support of a cause?
These are questions I’m sure we ask of ourselves in Undod too, and indeed they’re questions non-members may also ask of us. From speaking to our members, another frequently asked question seems to be: ‘Why join Undod, when you could just join YesCymru?’
The answer, we hope, should be clear: we want to go deeper than campaigning for a referendum on independence, further than sowing the seeds of ‘indycuriosity’ among a wider and wider proportion of the Welsh population. These are projects being ably led by YesCymru and other organisations, to which we can lend our support.
In turn, we’re free to talk about the material issues that we, as a broad and united left, can see are driving this desire for an independent Welsh state: the demand to provide adequate housing, to reclaim our streets, to protect all who choose to call this country home, and so forth. We don’t have to wait for an independent Wales to fight for these: we can start the work now, taking an active role in our own communities.
Many of us are already doing this in various forms, but through Undod we bring the rich multitude of left activism in Wales together as a true popular front. The next step is to make it mean something, to develop our shared strategy for ensuring the voice of the independence-supporting Welsh left is heard. That’s what we’ll be working on, together, in this new year.