A discussion between former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley and Natalie Jones at the National Eisteddfod in Boduan.
Naomi Hughes, Joseph Gnagbo and others
2:30 pm, Thursday 10 August
Awen Meirion Stand
Imagining an Independent Wales
4:30pm, Friday 11 August
Pabell y Cymdeithasau 2
Former Plaid Cymru Leader Dafydd Wigley and Natalie Jones
The future of what Wales could be is more exciting than ever. Most people, whether they’re pro-Independence, ‘Indy-curious’ or doubtful about Independence, have some ideas about the Wales they want to see. Collectively, we are re-imagining what Wales could be.
What could the future of Wales look like if children and young people were key stakeholders in shaping it? To be truly democratic, engagement in civic life should be open to all. Across the world, the participation of children and young people in civic leadership rests on the political will and structures there to enable them to do so. Wales has already made its commitment to children and young people clear in the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011.
Recent years have highlighted how Wales is governed by Westminster-based British unionism, which has little understanding or regard for Wales. This is shown by events such as the recent decision to override legislation set by the Senedd or the negative impact of HS2 on Wales.
A recent YouGov poll showed that opposition to independence is at its lowest, with those more likely to support Welsh independence being 16- 24. Engaging this group (which Wales is losing as part of the ‘brain-drain’) to imagine what Wales could and should be a priority. Most people want change, but how we get there and what it looks like is both a challenge and opportunity.
Research highlights the often binary perceptions we have about the participation of children and young people in civic life. Either they’re disengaged and disenfranchised or leading and creating change. The Welsh Youth Parliament is an example of the value young people can bring to politics. But it is also an example of the limitations of replicating systems that we should reimagine.
Reimagining the future of Wales with young people as key stakeholders requires us all to be aware of the influence and power our current frameworks keep away from them.
Additionally, being accountable to the future should ensure that we support children and young people to define what that is. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) shows that Wales is already leading the way in investing in the people of tomorrow.
By taking an intergenerational approach and supporting children and young people to create, challenge and inspire us all, Wales will be better off. They’re already building a better future for Wales by preserving our planet, tackling loneliness or bringing our cities to life. It is important that we don’t just value them for who they may become, but instead, who they are now, and what they dream for today.
What if we supported our children and young people of today to be key stakeholders in building the independent Wales of tomorrow?
The best decision makers are those who are directly affected by
those decisions: that should not be controversial.
Except, that is, if Westminster and Whitehall’s benches and halls of privilege are your natural home.
People in Wales face a number of problems and challenges that cannot be solved by our current power-limited Senedd. Nor can they be resolved by Westminster where Wales is never a priority.
There is no question that becoming an independent country will empower the people of Wales. But beyond the headline, it’s time for us to examine what it will really mean.
As ever, Raymond Williams’ thinking – introducing his concept of
‘real independence’ – was far ahead of his time. It’s approach that goes much further than just national constitutional arrangements. A call for a freedom characterised by a broad-mindedness and confidence that people have when they have
been politically and economically empowered to decide the direction of their own lives.
After too much time as a one-party state, it’s time to give geographical and economic equality and community empowerment a chance. That community-led, devolved socialism will be a clear break neo-liberal approach at the United Kingdom level.
As a national movement, our aim is not to bring more powers to Cardiff. If economic activity and public investment continue to focus on the area around the M4 corridor in south east of Wales, we will be emulating the British state on a smaller scale, while neglecting communities in and around the capital as well.
We will have the opportunity to do our politics differently, ensuring that policies suit the needs of our communities.
What is needed is to encourage people to engage in the process of thinking about how we can solve our problems together and to inspire people to take part in local initiatives that build the resilience of their communities.
What is needed is a program that presents a set of values and principles and policy ideas to empower and end our economic dependency.
This process has already started: as activists succeed in convincing more and more people to agree with the principle that decisions that affect Wales should be made in Wales.
Raymond’s real independence is in touching distance, and the intense debate about the plan to get us there is underway.
- increasing tax revenue levels to the European average, with major tax reforms, drug decriminalisation and taxing landlords;
- changing the relationship with work and increasing the percentage of the population that is of working age, including by relaxing immigration rules;
- reducing defence spending to the same level as Ireland;
- delivering savings through the creation of a single integrated emergency service, fewer county councils and a significant reduction in the prison population.
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Groups campaigning for independence for Wales have joined forces to hold a summit in Swansea next month (28 January 2023).
The organisers from the think tank Melin Drafod say the event will be a chance for campaigners to discuss how Wales becomes independent.
The event comes amid further discussion about uniting the island of Ireland and all recent polling showing majority support for Scottish independence.
A recent ruling from the UK supreme court denying an independence vote also raises questions about how people in Wales could have their say.
Among the speakers at the Swansea summit will be Welsh Green Party Leader Anthony Slaughter, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS, Cllr Rachel Garrick from Welsh Labour for Independence, Sam Coates from Undod, YesCymru’s Gwern Evans, Senedd Member Luke Fletcher, Joseph Gnagbo, Mirain Owen from Cymdeithas yr Iaith and Amanda Burgauer of Common Weal.
Talat Chaudhri, Chair of think tank Melin Drafod, said:
“We are coming together because Wales needs to discuss its strategy to become an independent state. There is no time to lose – with the UK quickly unravelling, Wales needs to be ready for its future as a progressive, independent country.
“Wales’ independence is in touching distance, but we need a plan to ensure that we can use the powers of independence to build together a society that is fair, green and progressive. If we get the plan right, we can be a beacon to the rest of the world.
“We cannot rely on others to shape our destiny for us: we, the ordinary citizens of Wales, need to take the lead ourselves.”
The independence summit will be held on Saturday 28 January in the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea. Further information can be found by clicking here.
Recording from a discussion held in Cardiff on 30th September 2022 with Leanne Wood, Eric Ngalle Charles, Mirain Owen, Tessa Marshall and Elin Hywel.