Labour for an Independent Wales to hold first event

Mike Hedges. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

A group calling themselves Labour for an Independent Wales will be holding their first event this Friday.

Mike Hedges AM, Lord Elystan Morgan, and Dr Sophie Williams will be joining the event at Caffi’r Atom, Carmarthen at 3pm.

The group has been formed by members of the party who wish to debate and campaign for the idea of an independent Wales.

One of the group’s founder members, Ben Gwalchmai, said that there were many Labour supporters who were coming around to the idea of Welsh independence.

“The threat of Brexit, and the intransigence of the British state in face of austerity, insecurity and a lurch to the right has left us in a situation where we must consider all our options,” he said.

“As a poll back in May suggested, between a third and almost a half of Labour supporters now consider independence to be a genuine option.”

‘Particular resonance’

It was particularly exciting that Mike Hedges, the Assembly Member for Swansea East, would be joining the event, Ben Gwalchmai said.

“He is someone who will never shy away from the difficult issues and who is willing to discuss radical proposals,” he said.

“We are equally pleased that Lord Elystan will join us to set out some of his ideas about why Wales should aim for Dominion status, and what form of independence this represents.

“His presence is of particular significant, of course, because of his lifelong commitment to Welsh independence, and his role in moving devolution forward as a politician and his efforts during the referendum of 1979.

“We feel his contribution will have particular resonance as a former Labour MP, who in the 60s and 70s was a strong advocate of independence.

“He serves as a reminder that there has always been a place for advocating these ideas in the Labour Party, as other names such as SO Davies and Keir Hardie bear witness to.”

International context

They will be joined in discussion by Dr Sophie Williams, who in recent years has studied issues around identity and politics in the Basque country.

Dr Huw Williams, another of the organisers, said that it was “vitally important” that Wales’ situation was studied “in the wider, international context”.

“We hope to be able to reflect on our position here in view of what Sophie has to tell us about her insights into another sub-state nation,” he said.

“We’re hoping that with this combination of speakers, who will no doubt have their own views on the idea of an independent Wales, we will have an open, informative and constructive debate about what this idea means from a Labour perspective.”

Huw Williams added that everything would be open to debate at the event.

“Even the concept of independence itself, of course, is a disputed one, and we need to be open to the idea that in the Welsh context this may mean something very different in comparison to other countries.

“We will have to recognise the extent to which we share in historical structures and relations with our neighbours in certain areas.

“As we are ultimately interested in pushing forward the cause of socialism in Wales, this should hopefully allow us to develop our own particular view of the issues.

“What we are certain about is that we can no longer live in the hope that the British state will serve that cause; given where we are in Wales, and some of the severe, ingrained difficulties that our communities face, it is high time we asserted our autonomy and took our fate into our own hands.

“Given the challenges we face and the extent to which we are hamstrung by our lack of power, it is our belief that the burden of proof for remaining in the UK now lies with British Unionists.”

Ideas

Ben Gwalchmai denied that there would be a clash of interests between the group and the wider Labour movement.

“Our position is that these are ideas that many Labour voters are clearly attracted to and so there is a duty to explore and pursue them,” he said.

“Moreover, our First Minister is on record as stating his desire to see Wales move to what might be described as DevoMax.

“In articulating ideas for greater autonomy for Wales, we see ourselves as working in line with these aspirations.”

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30 Comments

  1. Dominionists ?

    Intrigued, suspicious and trying hard not to be cynical. It’ll be interesting to watch this unfold. I’d like to learn more before deciding if this is a welcome new thing or wolves in sheep’s atire.

    Could be some nice new ideas though to toy with. or maybe not?

  2. Capitalist and Welshnash

    I am intrigued by this as an alternative to those who would push for a socialist republic and will speak with them as soon as I can.

    A Dominion could preserve our ‘British’ traditions, Lords, our evolving Anglo-Welsh legal system, and maintain connections with the countries of the Commonwealth in a mould closer to England than even Canada, whilst fostering our Cymreictod and ensuring we do what’s most important, promote the growth and expansion of our Welsh Language heritage and affiliated cultural traditions.

  3. I have no real faith in the Labour party but if this brings Labour supporters to independence it is a good thing. Not something to be critical of, for me.

  4. After hearing Alun Cairns speech today, highlighting the aim to bind Bristol, Cardiff and Newport into a powerhouse and some unclear comments about more powers fkr North Wales, I feel to have an urgency to set a Welsh agenda that prevents the Tory splintering of Wales.

  5. Dafydd Thomas

    Excellent article on the BBC today on labour handling of Welsh economy. Here are some quotes…. My words in brackets. Look at the graphs in the article, shows SNP Government does well compared to previous labour administration.

    “With Scotland’s oil and gas industries declining it is perhaps surprising that Scottish economy has performed so much better than Wales since devolution.” (Nothing surprising Scotland had SNP Wales had Welsh labour. When Bill Clinton said “It’s the economy stupid” was he ….a)talking to Welsh labour, or b) talking to the SNP)

    “We must not ignore the fact that devolution gave tools to the Welsh Government to steer the economy (but no one asked if they could drive) to a certain extent but the big economic levers – setting income tax, interest rates and benefit levels – stayed with Westminster.”

    “The challenge for Wales now is to learn from the past 20 years, use the tools it has, and be bold about the future.” (By removing labour. As Einstein defined insanity “when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result”)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-41419469

    seriously we have been let down badly. Let’s hope labour for independence is a cure for Labour.

  6. Jonathan Edwards

    Trailorboy you say you are “Intrigued, suspicious and trying hard not to be cynical.” How well you speak for so many in Wales, especially the “suspicious” bit. After all, Wales is a zero-sum game, so if someone gains, you will lose, won’t you? Oh dear, oh dear!
    But like all of us, Trailorboy you’ve been round the block before, and probably seen the lean years, so lets try something more positive.
    What is happening is a resurgence of ideas which have been right for OVER A HUNDRED YEARS and only need the political wind behind them.
    1. Dominion Status: this was offered to Wales in 1905, the site for the Parliament was earmarked in Cathays Park, and is still there, the memorial garden, and could still be used. It would be have been fantastic. And it only didn’t happen because England too the rest of us to yet another war, WW1. In which the Welsh earned their own Guards Regiment, but did not get Dominion Status. Never forget how clever the English were at running an Empire.”
    2. Little changes in English Law, and Dominion Status would be a great advance for Wales now. Me, I’d like the UK or Europe to be Federal like the US, so that Wales would get Statehood. Nice, clean sovereignty, no messing, with a proven Constitution like 50 US States, and republican into the bargain. But Statehood isn’t going to happen in Englandandwales so, yes, Dominion Status will do fine.”Dominion Status” sounds archaic, but “pretty much independent except for very few things” and within the Commonwealth would be a tremendous advance, and keep the Queen happy. So Elystan is right.
    3. Ah yes, Elystan. Wonderful orator when he was on his game. Does anyone else remember this star of Welsh politics? Took on Kinnock in the 1979 referendum and outshone him by miles. Look at the black & white archive footage.Pity Elystan he threw in his lot with Labour and disappeared. But that’s Labour for you. Then, And now?
    $. Dear old Labour. The Basques and their Mondragon Coops tugs at every soft left heartstrinig. Plaid went on and on about them. In the 1980s. No matter that Labour are 30 years late on this one. Better late than never! But should we hold our breath now?
    Labour have this terrible “its Labour way or the highway” arrogance. I have never never voted for them, or UKIP for this reason. Voted for most the others. But only Plaid fought for Wales. But now Plaid fights its own members…..Labour converts…… McEvoy for example…..sad.
    OK, Labour, I will do you a deal: Labour, you must
    – come out fighting to Remain in the EU, get off the fence
    – come out fighting for Dominion Status
    – do for Wales what the SNP has done for Scotland
    If you do I will
    – vote for you eg in Pembrokeshire, where you’d have won the Westminster seat in the 2017 General Election if you’d done my deal for me
    – vote to put Plaid Cymru out of its misery. End its sad downward spiral which must make its founders weep, AND
    – get Cons and Lib Dems into the fold as well AND
    – not block you when you do all your pet Laboury projects in your Laboury way, like the ridiculous Black Route round Newport.
    Because then you’d have united all Wales, and got the Congress Party of Wales, like the Congress Party of India, which got its Dominion Status and more.
    Will you do this deal?
    But Labour – you won’t do it will you! You use Welsh voters to win elections to Westminster, because your rulers are obsessed with getting power in London, and then you dump on your Welsh voters. You arrogantly suppress power anywhere else, such as in Cardiff or the Atom in Carmarthen. So Wales will have to wait yet another hundred years because of your arrogance. No, don’t hold your breath.

  7. Hopefully some of the more academically minded here can help define and explain Dominion for mere plebs like myself. Apparently Wales was generally referred to as a Dominion from 1535 to 1801.

    I would assume by Dominion it means being autonomous and having its own legislature, having equal status to England under the realm of the monarch, yet having sovereignty over its territory.

    Is that along the right lines??

    • Dafydd Thomas

      Good question. If Wales and Scotland had Dominion status (whatever that means at the moment) would that mean that England had dominion status. Would this mean ‘federalism’ where we would be paying for ‘world power’ defence status i.e. £1.7billion a year instead of £0.5 billion like Ireland. Independence sounds, less complicated, cheaper and a better deal. ASAP.

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      We were autonomous between Edward IV and I think William III. That does not cover the dates you’ve pointed out though.

      • I was being a bit lazy – those dates are on Wikipedia for some reason for “Dominion” – the person who introduced the edit in 2014 appeared to be someone who writes a lot about railways, expecially ones in New Zealand, but no-one since has changed it or questioned it.

    • “dominion” an outdated colonial /monarchy name not suitable for the rapid tech and social changes coming this century…zzzz

  8. There is a discussion in this recently published pamphlet that touches on the concept of Dominion Status: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B19fKWZtAE1SWUJrR25mR1lJU1U/view
    One of its advantages would seem to be that it allows for many forms of independence – so potentially it could allow Wales to maintain some of the ties that many are reluctant to discard, whilst over time it could lead to a form of sovereignty that’s typical of most nation-states.

  9. If it works on Labour from the inside and convinces more peple to support us, then all good. I would encourage them to post regular articles on thus site and help us create a broad church, which is what we have always been missing, and which Plaid are unable to provide.

  10. Clearly something needs to change to move things forward – it’s good to have new ideas.

    I sense an urgency. On the BBC Wales news tonight yet more talk of South Wales (meaning Newport and Cardiff) linking to Bristol and North Wales to Liverpool. This time the story was about stroke patients. This is a constant drip, drip thing to move people’s opinions and beliefs along to where they are being steered.

    This truly is a very serious issue for the very existence of the country we all live and cherish.

    The BBC truly are the government agents of change – we have to somehow bind Wales together solidly to avoid beung splintered.

    If thats a Dominion with our own legislature, a shared ceremonial monarch and equal stature with England under the realm so be it. If it provides some means of addressing our manipulation thrn great.

    If it means being little more than the colony that we already are then obviously not.

  11. Dominion is a word – a relic of imperial supremacy where “white” colonies were given some sort of intermediate status ( en route to more independence ) while retaining a notional subservience to the Crown. It’s all about retaining some sort of supremacy for London, don’t fall for it. Diversionary tactics being promoted by the subject nation – pathetic.

  12. The old saying ‘I wouldn’t trust them further than I could throw them’ is what comes to mind with me.

    Until proven otherwise i’ll believe that they are picking up on the independence bandwagon that appears to be gaining momentum and looking to derail it by splitting it in different directions. Many people have talked about a new party to replace PC who appear unable to appeal to the majority. That party, if it came about, may be seen as a threat to Labour hence the splitting comment.

    Just me being cynical for very good reason.

    • Perhaps this is freedom of choice – the freedom to choose whatever message appeals. Perhaps there’s a hint of a tongue with many forks. Future deeds and actions will reveal all.

  13. Perhaps an electoral pact could be considered between “Labour for an Independent Wales” and Plaid Cymru, if it becomes an established group.

  14. The independence movement must incorporate all political ideas. Having said that, the Conservative party and the Labour party still have a UK London based structure.
    Whether this is sincere from Labour or just an attempted vote grab from Plaid remains to be seen – I don’t trust the Westminster based parties.

    There may have to be new parties re-constituted for the centre-left and the centre-right in Wales (and possibly elsewhere).

    The Conservative party is NOT a true centre-right liberal capitalist party – their UK parties direction is in support of a global monopolistic capitalist system run centrally from London (and the western world) – it has never promoted mass individual share public ownership (truely) of local industries with accountability and has instead promoted self-interest multi-national companies over small companies.
    The Labour party is NOT a ‘democratic socialist’ party, just look back to the Blair years for proof. – it is centrally controlled.

    At the present time Plaid Cymru is still the only Wales based party with Welsh interests at heart.

  15. An interesting project an Independent Wales ! Wales a renewed country free from the contortions of confidence tricksters in a Westminster Parliament & its elitist House of Lords . A real future project for the people of Wales methiks ! From little acorns great oaks may grow !

  16. Capitalist and Welshnash

    I have seen many subtleties since the EU referendum suggesting a soft-Welsh nationalism emerging in Welsh Labour, which I very much support.

    An immediate, violent rupture is not what is needed. The more ‘British’ elements we keep post-independence the better. The Welsh Language is too weak to go through any kind of revolution and survive, and that should be the only consideration from pro-Wales camps.

  17. If the Labour party in Wales promoted some form of self-governance for Wales this would be a huge boon to the Yes Cymru movement. My only concern would be that they (Labour, Plaid Cymru, Yes Cymru) would use this shift in power to try and pervert the Welsh result in the 2016 EU referendum.

    In that respect, perhaps the structure of our politics, even political parties themselves, are part of the problem. We need a genuinely democratic and decentralised Welsh nation state, not just more power in the hands of the Cardiff Bay bubble. Ditto for all European nations, apart from Switzerland perhaps.

  18. Tame Frontiersman

    I too am intrigued by this. In the magazine “Golwg”, 31.8.17, Lord Elystan Morgan is reported as saying that he believed that independence was something impractical. Are they talking about independence or rebranding devolution?

    The history of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the original “Dominions” of the British Empire named in the 1931 Statute of Westminster, makes for interesting reading in regards constitutional development, particularly if you like stories about devolution or self-government going into reverse!

    This is 2017. How does “Dominion of Wales” sound? Does it not create an instant impression of Welsh caps being doffed to the east? If Mr Ifan Morgan Jones’ “Nation . Cymru” was set up to answer the question: ‘How can we become a better nation?’ Then, if words have power, Lord Elystan Morgan’s “Dominion . Cymru” would almost seem to ask: how can Wales become a more subservient one?

    Words are just words and unfortunately words may be used to obfuscate rather than enlighten. The constitutional position of Wales within the UK needs to be clarified in the direction of a recognition that sovereignty lies with the people of Wales. It is up to the people of Wales alone what powers they want devolved (though that may turn out to be a two edged sword; it could mean devolution going into reverse) but more importantly there is an absolute right, “a clause 50”, to leave the UK at any time the people of Wales choose. This is particularly relevant in regards what’s being going on in Catalonia and Kurdistan.

    • One advantage we have over Catalonia and the Kurds is that it couldn’t be declated illegal because it opposed the constitution. Britain doesn’t have one and also Wales is already a country.

      We would still have to ask permission to draft an act of Parliament, but the Scottish precedent would make that very hard to refuse – well in an honourable and consistent world anyway.

  19. Red Dragon Jim

    Between them, Labour and Plaid have enough voters to win an independence referendum.
    Labour is not there yet, this seems like a small group of members. But it’s a start. Give it time.
    It is possible to imagine Labour and Plaid in the future calling an independence referendum. But we can’t say yet whether it would be in the EU or not.

  20. Many questions about this.
    Is this concept of “Dominion status” just an attempt to sneakily redefine independence in such a way as to pacify those who want independence without having to give them what they want?

    On a more immediate level, are Hedges and Morgan actually interested in independence or are they just showing up to the event to speak against it?

  21. Define “independence”. That’s your problem right there.

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