Audio: Labour for an Independent Wales ‘opening up discussion within the party’

Sandra Clubb, Ben Gwalchmai and Huw Williams. Picture by Mark Mansfield.

If First Minister Carwyn Jones wants a federal UK he should push for Welsh independence, according to the group Labour for an Independent Wales.

Speaking at a Yes Cymru event to discuss the independence movement within Welsh Labour, Ben Gwlachmai said that if Carwyn Jones wanted federalism “he’s going to have to push for more”.

Dr. Huw Williams said that a poll which showed that 29% of Labour voters were in favour of independence was very encouraging.

“It’s about opening up a discussion within the party,” he said.

“Even if the idea of independence is too radical for most Labour AMs at the moment, we’re making a start.

“It’s important that the push for independence is not something that’s partisan. That it’s not something that’s divisive across party lines.

“This is something that has been a problem in Scotland where independence has been driven by the SNP. But if you look at Catalonia it’s something that’s owned by different parties, so that’s something we could work towards in Wales.”

He suggested that based on their own engagements it was younger people that were most ready to engage with the idea of independence.

“So what we want to do really is to legitimise the idea that it’s OK to be a Labour supporter and say, ‘I’m in favour of independence’,” he said.

The entire discussion can be listened to above.

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  1. Paul Luckock

    Neither Nationalism or Colonialism. I want an independent Statethat works through the consequences of self government and has mutually supportive relationships with other independent states. The first consequence is to acknowledge we will need to borrow big, raise some taxes and move expenditure from some presently protected areas before moving to a more steady state.

  2. Benjiman L. Angwin

    There of course must be a socialist left of centre voice for this.

    It merely seems that Liberalism, and small ‘c’ conservatism, are not being given a place in the independence discussion. Where do Liberals fit in an independent Wales?

    Labour’s values, are centralised socialism.
    As a Liberal, I campaign for Plaid because its decentralised socialism is more tolerant of other viewpoints than Labour’s.

    If centralised and decentralised socialism become the two major parties in an independent Wales, we Liberals have to ask a serious question. Are we part of it? Will we have a voice?

    Anyone else who is pro-independence and Liberal (that it not right-wing in any way), you are free to contact me and we will get organised.

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      “Anyone else who is pro-independence and Liberal (that it not right-wing in any way), you are free to contact me and we will get organised.”

      When Britain spread its Empire across the world it took special care to educate people in a certain way. That is to influence them to a British way of thinking. Now we’ve been under that sway for some time… it means our concepts of Socialism, Republicanism, Left-Right, Liberal and all the rest of it are British. Where Ireland went wrong was that even though they secured their Independence they still thought as British people (hence the stagnation of their national identity). This is incompatible with Welsh Nationalism. The entire point of what we want here is to not be Britain. That goes far beyond a declaration of Independence, being able to speak Welsh but in that moment where our nation is truly born just seeing where we all land. Now there does need to be some plan for Independence – structure of government, maybe a constitution but beyond that you’ve just got to let the dice fall where they may… and there in that moment the fledgling ideas of Welsh Liberalism, Welsh Socialism and all the rest of it. Because thats where our way of doing things will deviate from the British/Emglish way.

      • Benjiman L. Angwin

        I do not think we agree on what being Welsh means.

        British/English, after 7 centuries, is part of what Welsh is.

        Any independence must acknowledge this.

        • So what….new ideas come and old ideas leave.

          I dont feel the chains of 700 years of English rule on me….the land and government might…..but my brain only emerged 30+ years ago … Im not binded to anything apart from the laws of physics and evolution

  3. Glyn Roberts

    If Carwyn Jones is still seeking to promote a federal constitutional solution then could the federal options include a different configuration than merely working within the constraints of the current UK? A ‘Celtic Federation’ comprising of Wales, Eire, Northern Ireland and Scotland would result in a joint federal population of around 15 million – similar to the population of the Netherlands.

    If this type of loose federal configuration sounds unlikely then consider how strategic new infrastructure links between Ireland and Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland could alter perceptions. In the past the main trade routes focussed on the sea – in our case the Celtic (or Irish) Sea and the inter-related kingdoms surrounding it. A Celtic Federation might have the potential to provide a more robust economic context for Welsh autonomy within a loose federation, together with a more effective counterbalance to the dominance of London politics and finance.Perhaps it might even provide a means of making progress towards resolving some of the tensions in Northern Ireland.

    Following the referendum and a lengthy period in office the SNP has been forced to recognise some of the economic and political challenges that small countries face in its campaigns to win over the voting public in Scotland to the idea of independence. Scottish Labour is also faced with the fact thaat the majority of Scottish voters would prefer to be further apart from England than at present. Eire has gone through difficult economic times. An independent Wales would have to face similar challenges and economic threats. All these countries with potential interests in a federal or confederal affiliation would seem to have strong shared interests and political philosophies – and strong bases in the politics of community.

    In my view this kind of federal solution is certainly worthy of serious consideration, technical assessment and public debate in Wales, Scotland and both parts of Ireland.

    • Absolutely agree with this comment. Independence is a helluva challenge on our own, and will take a lot more than just screaming about it louder, as some commentators on this site seem to want. But positively working with other Celtic nations (as opposed to occasionally backing each other up on social media when it seems to suits us) could open new possibilities and start to change perceptions and the balance of power in these islands.

      • Red Dragon Jim

        Really? I think it’s naive. Ireland wants to be in the EU. Their federation is with Germany and France, not parts of Brexit Britain.

        We could perhaps form a Celtic group like the Nordic Council, but not a federated state.

  4. Graham John Hathaway

    We as Welsh Nation are clearly not ambitious enough. Febrile, nervous, insecure. The core values are socialist. I will always remember the referendum on devolution on 18th Sept 1997 with the cliff hanger of the last two Counties to declare. RCT who took us over the threshold, and Carmarthem who confirmed the majority in favour of our own Assembly. The heart for freedom and change is alive and well.
    Make no mistake. There is confusion about what independence means to the many. Sadly we have not expressed it well enough. There’s a fierce rivalry between the political parties to make the bread of heaven.
    The notion of a United Kingdom is finished. It’s served its purpose. The rape of the fair country is over.

    What’s left is the picking of the white bones. Bare except for our resources left uninvested. We have a great future in prospect but not in a sterile UK. Whatever the democracy by popular consensus provided its the will to be separate and free standing.

  5. Graham John Hathaway

    All political parties in Wales should have the aim of creating a fully functioning, self determining Welsh Government, with its own jurisdiction and sovereign status. It’s not owned by any one person or group.
    It transcends all politics and gives life to a proper Nation. Not to do so is duplicitous and undermining the rightful existence of the means of self worth, national pride in your history, culture and protection of its assests in its own interests and those countries in alliance.

  6. CambroUiDunlainge

    I think this is a great idea. Problem with Labour is that the Unionist path its on makes it a “British Socialism” which has stereotypical British ideas and views. Hopefully this will be the start of a deviation and the birth of a “Welsh Socialism” by having ideas more inclined towards making Wales work as an Independent nation and not a dependent one.

    Will be a bumpy road though – it’ll be worth watching how Brexit effects the traditional Labour and Tory parties to see how Independence and the move towards it could effect the integrity of the party itself. Also of course I’m sure you’re aware that Labour is painted as the big bad here and there may come a point where you need to let people know you’re different from those elements that have brought Labour and as a consequence Wales to this low point.

    Though as for the Monarchy aspect… personally more interested in its potential function in achieving Independence. I think we should all be campaigning against the title of “Prince of Wales” no matter how you feel about the Monarchy. Should be abolished, it’s disrespectful and its very much like the Iron Sphincter. I’m sure there’s the potential for an Investiture over the next 10 years and last time around Plaid did very little… and now is the time to protest it. If they don’t listen and they force such a thing on us I believe we have the right to choose our own in defiance of that. As I said… functionality. Giving people the right to choose and letting WM seem as if they are removing that right.

    • Red Dragon Jim

      Wasn’t the One Wales government an example of “Welsh socialism” and indeed Welsh liberalism? It’s fading from my memory now but Wales did stand up to Westminster under that administration, even in the part of it where Westminster was run by Labour and not the Tories.

  7. Graham John Hathaway

    It’s interesting and positive in the seeking to differentiate British Socialism and Welsh socialism as a means of identity and avoidance of corruption/ contamination with, to many eyes, a less than virtuous recent pedigree.
    I doubt if this will work with everyone but it’s certainly a reach of the mind to join in a noble cause of fighting for self rule, however it comes. The issues are complex in determining which policies to advance in support, but I ask that interested parties, of any colour, should begin cross party talks, to seek common ground and agree strategies in a grown up manner.
    The prize is worth it. If it moves on the idea we are not stuck in the lower percentiles of interest in greater powers, strengthens the powers of the Assembly, gives direction and influences voting in favour of Wales and not the Union, at Westminster, ( a history of voting there has been less than favourable for Plaid led amendments). But most of all takes the arguement to the people of Wales by a major Welsh led Party, that was so instrumental in the voting to create the Assembly, and whose early history of Kier Hardy, and more recently in the setting up of the Welsh Office and the preservation of a fledgling Assembly, aided by a coalition with Plaid, that Adam Price has recently written about, deserves serious consideration.

    I for one with liberal views, as a pacifist, anti monarchy, and a pragmatist, feel excited by this brave move called Ymlaen, Ymlaen, and wish it success.

  8. Perhaps someone from LFAIW can explain to me how you can be both Labour and for independence.

    • Easily, you have a want of independence and feel labour is the party that represents the majority of your views best.

      • But the Labour Party is a British nationalist party, it’s run and controlled from England and has ideological and self interest reasons for thwarting a desire for Welsh independence within it’s membership in Cymru.

        The Labour party keeps saying that it’s a broad church which includes those that have opposing views on major issues like economic systems and nuclear deterrents. The Party can easy accommodate a few Welsh nationalists and still function as a British nationalist party in principle and practice.

        Labour for an independent Wales will only be effective in it’s stated aim if it either breaks away from the Labour Part or its supporters are expelled from it. Maybe those involved already realize this and their efforts are to first build up a sizeable break away group. However the Labour Party will also already know this. The Labour Party has been successfully thwarting those in its ranks who have ideas about Welsh independence using carrots and sticks, promises and diversions for generations.
        What’s different now?

    • I hear there’s an UKIP for Welsh Independence being set up too. 😉

  9. Thankfully as 71% are against independence, it’s not going to happen any time soon. I am not one that will defend the Tories over the electrification of the London line past Swansea, the Severn Barrage or the Swansea tidal lagoon and the list goes on, but anyone that thinks that we would get a better deal if independent is deluding themselves. The Assembly has not covered itself in glory by any criteria that can be measured or in perception that points to improvements on the horizon. That along with the rates of interest that any type of borrowing would make an independent Wales a prohibitive indulgence that only has just one painful ending. One that Yanis Varoufakis could describe with his usual witty insight.

    We have some serious issues to tackle here in Wales, self indulgent kite flying such as this only puts back the improvements that are desperately needed. Nationalist have fantasized over such scenarios for many years, whilst Labour have benefitted from the lack of scrutiny. Labour now eats your breakfast, but has no chance implementation……….So now what purpose do Fundamentalist Nationalists now have?

    • CambroUiDunlainge

      For one some of us realise (if Tony Blair not actually confessing it) that Devolution is a Westminster sham. Point is we were to have powers to take care of our own affairs… but those powers are limited and abstained on by the very party that actually – as I’m sure you are aware – runs the WAG. So whats really the point in devolution if the Westminster parties are just doing what the head office tells them? Yes the Carwyn vs Corbyn separate campaigns… but only one winner (covering all my bases).

      I’ll be blunt: Issues in Wales are not going to get better. Brexit will give us a kicking. On top of that we’re already the most impoverished place in Western Europe. Thats intentional – its not something thats developed since the Tories have been in power. If you visit other nations who are essentially colonies like us you’ll find much the same situation, much the same attitudes. Thats a little much to be a coincidence.

      So either way remain as we are and in poverty inflicted by another nation… or break free. Sure it’ll be a struggle but I actually believe in my people as well as my nation. We’re getting to the point where things can only get better: See Scotland.

    • Nigel bull, think deeper.

      Power + Land/Materials + education = wealth creation

      How is power and ownership locked up by the few mainly in London ever helped Wales.

      Wales is poor for lack of self rule….for being dependent like children

      How is a temperate region with access to sea, an educated workforce and plenty of resources……unable to be self ruling?

      Yet 250,000 population of Iceland is self ruling and doing well especially on democratic indices

    • Nigel , fatal error … judging the token Westminster branch you call “the assembly”.and its performance….with all future possibilities and real empowerment … is saddening…

      Its almost like many people are suicidal in their lack of confidence ….many countries are doing well with less favourable conditions

    • Have you checked lately how the Greek economy and it’s stock market is doing?

  10. Graham John Hathaway

    I have only one sensible comment to the notions that whilst acknowledging the failures the Assembly, the lack of infrastructure investments, the under utilisation of critical environmental initiatives, poor prospects post Brexit. “That continuing to do the same things that impoverishes Wales is a sign of madness”
    I suggest the question that needs answering most and neatly avoided is why nearly 30 % of Labour membership in Wales is pro independence. At least the very thing that brought Labour to power in Wales and that was a fight for justice and equality, is stirring again, and not before time. It’s the right path, and now it needs full discussion and an open mind. The radicalism of labour in Wales isn’t dead, it’s been sleeping.

  11. To start with, Unity is everything. Wales will never get the chance to have an independence vote if it doesnt get a plaid majority in Cardiff bay.
    Labour voters that want independence will still vote for a labour who are dead against independence.
    Its great seeing these groups, it really is but i cant see how this will result in wales getting a chance to vote for Indy.
    Like i said, we need a majority party in government to push a vote though, There is no other way. I hope im wrong though.

  12. Graham John Hathaway

    The issue Kevin is two fold. First the vote to have a referendum, as you point out. But even more importantly is winning the vote for an independent Wales. And that is the will of the Wesh voters. In the ballot box is placed your own vote but if the interest is led by a Westminster view then what’s the point. If it’s about socialism directed to deal with Welsh issues based on self rule then that should be another matter.

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