by Gruffydd Meredith
What a day. It’s estimated that 3000-4000 people attended the independence rally in the capital. Some estimates make the attendance as high as 5000
The BBC, true to form, tried to describe the numbers involved as in the ‘hundreds ‘. Citizens came from all over Wales to gather outside Cardiff city hall before marching through the streets of Cardiff in what can be described as the first official major independence march in Welsh history. Buses came from north-west and north-east Wales, from mid Wales and from south-west and south-east Wales, as well as from the capital itself.
It was a real pleasure to be able to march in the sun with fellow patriots who want to see a free and prosperous Wales.
Carys Eleri, Ben Gwalchmai from Labour 4 Indy Cymru, Siôn Jobbins from YesCymru, Sandy Clubb of Undod and poet Ali Goolyad spoke, with Adam Price concluding with his powerful pulpitish, Obamaesque speech.
I think it’s now important to carry on with the good work of making sure that everyone’s variety of views on Wales and the European Union/Wexit/Brexit continue to be respected. And that the varieties of views on the subject are discussed and considered sensibly and inclusively, with excessive polarisation and needless division avoided where possible.
And it it’s important in my view that all the different groups solely campaigning for independence don’t take sides when it comes to the issue of Wales and the European Union, or with anyone who wants to vote for a pro or anti Brexit party. And while we’re at it, it might be an idea to put aside the tired identity politics that divides people instead of uniting them, and break through the equally divisive left right paradigm and start treating each issue on its own merit.
With much of those who voted for Wexit/Brexit already Welsh nationalists who are ardent supporters of Welsh independence (of which I am one), there’s also a real opportunity to ‘win over ‘ a great deal of non-Welsh speakers, Welsh speakers and people living in Wales or recently moved to Wales who might not consider themselves Welsh citizens but who voted for Brexit or Remain and are likely to also vote for British unionist pro Brexit or Remain parties.
These people can all be won over to support the campaign for an independent Wales – perhaps especially but not exclusively those who voted for Brexit. Shouting names at them and deriding them for practising and expressing their democratic rights is not going to help the cause of independence for Wales-quite the opposite. And in the case of pro Brexit voters who haven’t yet considered Welsh independence, I believe there’s a great opportunity to win these over to our cause – after all, the principle of independence is a clear common ground between us all.
So it’s important in my view that two separate issues aren’t conflated by elements within campaign groups for Welsh independence. There’s no need to try and make this a struggle between Welsh independence and people who voted for Brexit or are planning to vote for any particular pro Brexit party especially because that’s not the point. The point of Welsh independence is just that – independence – regardless of what party anyone supports, how they voted in the 2016 EU referendum or how they’re planning to vote in the future. The Welsh independence movement is for all those who want to be part of it whether they voted for Brexit, Remain or Wexit from both the UK and EU unions.
Like Andrew Benjamin of Welsh Football Fans For Independence said in a recent article by Wales online “But this isn’t about Brexit, as such. I want Wales to be an independent nation first and foremost, and once that is achieved then we can decide as a nation if we want to be a part of the EU”
The aim of everyone who campaigns for Wales is simply independence. To me and many others, this means independence from any union, UK or EU. ‘Independence within the EU’ is a very strange oxymoronic statement to me, and it’s being increasingly shown that Wales can avoid the begging bowl approach and achieve economic sovereignty and become a far more prosperous nation state outside of any of these unions.
But all of this can be discussed and decided democratically after independence. Meanwhile none of us are going to ‘leave Europe’, and the majestic continent of Europe isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. After all, the referendum in 2016 was a vote to leave the European union, not to leave Europe.
(Main picture by LLywelyn2000 via CC BY 4.0 licence)