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All the speeches, photos and reaction from the March for Independence in Swansea

20 May 2023 6 minute read
Image by Christopher Evans

Christopher Evans

Over six thousand people took to the streets of Swansea earlier today for the first march for Welsh independence of 2023.

Organised by All Under One Banner Cymru and YesCymru, it is the first event since October 2022 when an estimated 10,000 people marched through Cardiff.

There was a positive and cheerful atmosphere as the sun shone over Wales’ second largest city. People of all ages marched with flags and banners, whilst renditions of “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, “Calon Lân” and “Yma O Hyd” were belted out by the crowd.

Starting at 1pm, the march left Wind Street, snaking through Castle Street, College Street, The Kingsway, Dillwyn Street, Oxford Street, St Mary’s Square, and Princess Way, before finishing on the Waterfront.

There was an Indy Market at the Green with numerous fringe events also taking place around the city that included panel talks, poetry, comedy, and live music. Following the march there was a rally at the National Waterfront Museum Green.

United

Speaking to Nation.Cymru at the rally, the Chief Executive of YesCymru Gwern Gwynfil said: “It’s such a great occasion. It’s a lovely day out. The number of families I’ve seen is incredible, people of all ages from all over Wales and further afield.

“There’s normally a guy who comes all the way from the Netherlands, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it today.

“The march is an opportunity for everyone to get together and feel united. There’s a growing and expanding feeling in favour of independence, which obviously the data is also supporting.”

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Priorities

Gwynfil continued: “Wales would be much better off as an independent nation. Being able to set our own priorities, being able to have a government that reflected our own culture and our population and the beliefs of that population.

“It’s not just Wales that benefits from independence. Scotland and England would also be better off as independent nations and we often forget this. England would have a chance to refresh itself, to revitalise and reinvigorate itself. Everything feels very tired.

“It’s the end of an empire. There’s no innovation. Westminster frankly appears to be a cesspit. All of that could be renewed, refreshed and revitalised by transformative change. And independence for everyone gives transformative change, for the good.”

Real substance

Author Mike Parker made a rousing speech to the crowd at the rally.

The self-proclaimed adopted Welshman said: “The campaign for independence is about real substance. And it is urgent.

“Right now, with the world in such a dark and difficult place, with fascism and dictatorship on the rise, fuelled by imperialisms ancient and new, and rapidly widening inequality; with the climate collapse threatening to unleash horrors we haven’t yet dreamed of, the need to do things differently could not be more pressing.

“The world needs Welsh values – strong community, kindness, sustainability – and it needs them on the widest possible stage. It’s as simple as that.”

Tinkering

He continued: “This country has so much to share, so many conversations to be part of. But that cannot be until we have found our own voice and are able to use it. No amount of tinkering around the edges of the current settlement will give Wales its real voice.

“The UK has shown time and time again that it cannot and will not reform itself. Gross inequality is hardwired into it, and as times get tougher, the proof of that is only going to become more extreme, and more obscene.

“So yes, Wales needs independence, but not just for the sake of those of us fortunate enough to live here.

“Our neighbours in these islands also need an independent Wales, to help hasten the much-needed rebalancing of power and wealth. Most importantly of all, the world needs an independent Wales.”

Collective ambition

Naomi Hughes, of YesCymru, said: “If Slovakia can be independent, why can’t we? If Lithuania can be independent, why can’t we?

“If the Luxembourgers can be independent, why can’t we? And if Iceland, with a population only 30% greater than Swansea itself can be independent, why can’t we?

“We must seize a collective ambition to make this positive change to the future of our nation and the generations to come.

“To build a fair and tolerant society for everyone in Wales, North, South, East and West.”

Confidence

Anthony Slaughter, the Leader of the Wales Green Party said: “This is a fantastic day and thanks to each and every one of you for turning up today. We can feel this movement growing, every time we get together. The sense of confidence is palpable.

“The idea of an independent Wales is becoming increasingly credible to more and more people.

“People can see the society we live in isn’t working. The Union isn’t working. Westminster isn’t working. Wales deserves better.

“We need the power of independence – to work and to build that small, fair, progressive, green, independent country that Wales can become.”

Animated

Addressing the crowd, the Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville-Roberts MP was animated: “We are all united against the injustices we face as a nation. We have made some noise today. They’ll hear it in Westminster!

“We are not just here to dwell on the challenges and describe the status quo. We are here to outline our vision of a better, richer, fairer country.

“To convince others that Wales isn’t destined for eternal poverty. It doesn’t have to be like this. We are more than just a footnote in another people’s history.

“We are a vibrant, resilient, and proud nation, with more than the capacity to thrive on our own. We know this. And we are here to carry on that proud Welsh tradition. Not just of standing tall against injustice, but rising above it to create something so much better.

“It’s not normal to have a third of our children living in poverty. It’s not normal that people are dying younger, that our living standards are worsening, and that is despite the fact that apparently we live in the sixth wealthiest nation state in the world.”

Greed

“It’s not normal – because the United Kingdom and its institutions are not normal. This isn’t a cost of living crises, it’s a cost of greed crisis! And this crisis is the result of the choices consciously made in Westminster.

“We can build a modern, thriving and inclusive European nation. We can be a sanctuary for those seeking refuge, where diversity is celebrated and embraced.”

Saville-Roberts finished her speech with the crowd joining in with chants of “Annibyniaeth!” (Independence).

Stirring

Other speakers at the event included stirring speech from Angharad Owen, Rachel Garrick for Labour for an Independent Wales and the founder of Scotland’s Common Weal think tank, Robin McAlpine.

Rachel Garrick

Robin McAlpine

For more information about future events visit the YesCymru website and the All Under One Banner Cymru website.


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Wynn
Wynn
9 months ago

Great stuff. Good to see so many supporting the march and nice to see Robyn McAlpine speaking. I know from my own experience that external views of our own politics can be puzzling or angering (eg folk thinking Sturgeon was a good leader) but Robin wrote a nice article about Scotland framed around Adam Price’s resignation from Plaid Cymru recently:
Adam Price and why Scotland needs a ‘political #MeToo’ moment | RobinMcAlpine.org

Jeff 501
Jeff 501
9 months ago
Reply to  Wynn

Nicola Sturgeon was a good leader, she won election after election in Scotland. She was the standout political leader at all of the televised leader debates I’ve watched over the last few years. In my ignorance I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make about Nicola Sturgeon sorry.

Wynn
Wynn
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff 501

Hi Jeff I don’t understand how you cannot see the abject mess that this woman has made of the yes movement and indeed the party. However, this is not the place for me to push Scottish stuff I am just glad to see such energy in Wales. But, if you want to enlighten yourself you could try this for a start:
The Sturgeon Era: control, paranoia and vanity | RobinMcAlpine.org

Julie Jones
Julie Jones
9 months ago

Wonderful day with a great atmosphere. Fantastic to see so many young people on the march. Our future is bright.

Richardo
Richardo
9 months ago

“The world needs Welsh values – strong community, kindness, sustainability ”

These values are not exactly unknown in the world. Not exclusively Welsh, and given the recent Plaid report, “kindness” is severely rationed. Wales is going to need a lot more than this recycled warm bathwater.

Glen
Glen
9 months ago
Reply to  Richardo

Independence will only be won by economic arguments.
Social justice warriors are a hindrance.

Siôn
Siôn
9 months ago

Nice day in Abertawe. I support independence but struggled afterwards with the lack of ethnic diversity at the event, I also struggled with the focus on the past. We need to look forward to a modern and new Cymru. This should be at the forefront of any intellectual discussion on independence. To create a better, happier Cymru, not to fall backwards in time.

CJPh
CJPh
9 months ago
Reply to  Siôn

What was the nature of this struggle?

wayne
wayne
9 months ago
Reply to  Siôn

Plenty of diversity. There were friends from all parts of Wales, All gender mutations and orientation were there. Wales is predominately a nation of white people and I saw quite a few non white friends joining in. There were disabled friends enjoying the day. Were you wearing sun glasses Sion?

Jeff 501
Jeff 501
9 months ago
Reply to  wayne

I agree Wayne, I saw what you saw at the march.

Bethan
Bethan
9 months ago
Reply to  Siôn

From everything I’ve witnessed from the organisers they’ve always sounded very inclusive and have spoken extensively about the future of Wales. Yes Cymru posted a video a few days before the event basically stating that everyone was welcome and broke down the economic potential of independence.

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