Before I start, I want to thank Sandra Clubb who introduced the word #indyCURIOUS into my vocabulary. It’s a welcome addition, as I hope you’ll find out. There’s more from Sandy in her blog here. Sandy is also another of the speakers at tomorrow’s rally.
A few weeks ago, I explained why I joined Plaid Cymru, and also that I was making a commitment to do my bit to move Wales from dependent status to an independent nation. I wasn’t aware but I went someway to explaining how I moved from a Pro-UK stance on Wales, and eventually on to #indyCONFIDENT (another Sandyism – Diolch). On the way I became #indyCURIOUS, and this was where things began to change for me.
I’d like to explain a little bit more about that journey, and why it’s important that we focus on developing more people into indycurious types rather than simply cajole and embolden those who already stand alongside us.
Firstly though, I want to recognise the role of the 6% (or 8%, or 10%, or whatever it really is) who have shouldered the burden of carrying the flame of independence thus far. They’ve been pilloried over the years, but haven’t lost the faith, despite the knocks. Often ridiculed, they knew this was a long game, and they’ve stuck with it. For that alone, they deserve a massive vote of thanks.
My personal journey to #indyCONFIDENT was pragmatic and considered. It was also, in the scheme of things, pretty quick. Unlike most on this side of the fence, I didn’t start from the ‘heart’ side of the argument. That doesn’t mean I’m not there now, but it wasn’t my starting point.
On Indycube‘s first sortie to the north, Mike Scott and I set off from Swansea, via Aberystwyth, and then onward to Caernarfon. Day 2 involved a trip along the coast – Bangor, Rhyl and briefly into Chester. Just after leaving Aber, Mike asked if I thought Wales was capable of being independent. I trotted out the well rehearsed answers – too small, too poor, too wedded to the England & Wales model that’s kept us for this long…. I believed my answers to be true. At the end of the day, that was the narrative that has been sub-consciously dripped into every Welsh resident for, well, ever!
His reply stuck with me.
He said “I’m really surprised. Whenever we talk about things, you rarely accept the old logic of others; you challenge it. Yet regarding an independent Wales, you’ve just accepted it.”
“If we accept their rules, then perhaps those things you say are true. But if you don’t, and Wales played by its own rules…..”
We didn’t talk about independence for a little while after that. But it got me thinking. I had become, unknowingly, #indyCURIOUS.
For a long time, I’ve been thinking & talking about a world that is changing dramatically around us. Most of the changes relate to the benefits of automation, artificial intelligence, and the ‘information-age’, but some also relate to a world that is beginning to realise that globalisation isn’t working for the vast majority of people. In fact, the world economic model has been set perversely against the forces of equality and in favour of ‘the 1%’; it’s been set against the natural world resources and in favour of the global corp; and here in Wales it’s been set against those who live in the majority of the Country, in favour of a few who live in the nicest parts of our cities.
I’d come to a point, where not only did I realise that’s just not right or fair; but to the point where I was actually going to do something to change things. I was convinced that the forces of change & chaos about to be unleashed across the world, represented an opportunity for us to build a better Wales. That a chance was emerging for us to redefine the rules by which we play ‘the game’. To change the rules, however, we need all the levers of power in our collective hands.
It was here, at this realisation, that I moved from #indyCURIOUS to #indyCONFIDENT.
The chance for change is here & now. Sadly, the opportunity to tighten the grip on resources to keep them in the hands of the few exists for those on the other side of the argument too. A battle for better awaits.
As things stand, despite the recent poll ratings, an independent Wales isn’t on a lot of minds of people living in Wales, and of those who have been asked whether they’d support the idea, or not, it still remains on the margins. Post Brexit polling did suggest an improvement in support for independence, but Roger Scully’s subsequent analysis is worth reading before planning our post Indy street festivals.
Those of us who find ourselves on the independence frontline, I think, need to find a different way of persuading others to sign up. We need people to be willing to be curious about an independent Wales. And that involves meaningful conversations. If you’re #indyCONFIDENT get your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours engaged. Just a bit, initially. Get them receptive. That’s all of our jobs.
Another job for all of us ‘in the choir’. We need to be confident in our assertions. The consistent narrative that we’ve succumbed to around being too small, too poor etc., are deeply embedded. The worst thing we can do is sit in a corner and bemoan this fact. We need to get out and state confidently that we believe in a better Wales; one that is governed solely by the people who live here, for the people who live here.
Next, we must create a narrative around independence that will make people’s lives better. This won’t be easy. There’s a significant body of evidence that Wales needs the cash resources of its ‘richer’ neighbour in order to exist. But that’s playing by the rules of somebody else’s game. Our rules needn’t be the same. We could, for example, decide that in Wales, we’re going to end inequality in our Country. In a world of effective (or more accurately, ineffective) abundance, this is doable. But there would be consequences. For example, if we led more fulfilling, happier lives would we care if we owned the latest iPhone7?
Finally, let’s try and avoid the anti-colonial narrative. Whilst I’ve moved to a position of understanding the impact of colonisation, we need to remember, if we are to win this battle that’s on our doorstep, we must bring the population with us. They will be turned off by anti-English sentiment. Ultimately, we surely want to live in peace and harmony with our nearest neighbours, we just don’t want to dance to their tune anymore.
The independence movement in Wales is at a sold ground zero, primarily down to the work done by all those who’ve kept the faith. It’s rare that the opportunity for change is so clearly presented, but we’ve got to remember this is a battle, which the other side is prepared to fight hard for.
Let’s start by helping people to engage their curiosity, like I did just past Aberystwyth a few years ago. Let’s create an #indyCURIOUS Wales.
Follow @YesCaerdydd on Twitter for updates & please do start using the hashtags #indyCURIOUS #indyCONFIDENT & #indyWales