Growth in ‘nationalist feeling’ over-reported to a ‘ludicrous’ extent, claims Labour MP
The growth of nationalist feeling in Wales has been over-reported to a “ludicrous” extent, according to a Welsh Labour MP.
Chris Bryant, the Member of Parliament for Rhondda, hit out at media coverage of the rise in support for Welsh independence in POLITICO.
A recent ComRes opinion poll, on behalf of ITV, put support for Welsh independence at 39%, which is the highest ever recorded. Another by ComRes put support for it at 28%.
It has been polling higher than support for independence in Scotland before the 2014 referendum.
In the past year, membership of the grassroots pro-independence group YesCymru has also grown from 2,000 to over 18,000.
Bryant also argued that Mark Drakeford’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted Welsh Labour ahead of the Senedd election.
He said: “People have looked much more this time at the quality of the leaders, because they know that the Welsh government has an effect in their life all the time.
“We’ve had it at door after door, people saying: ‘well, he [Drakeford] is just being calm and serious’”.
Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said the election in Wales is taking place in “a different environment altogether” to that in Scotland.
But a senior figure in Scottish Labour said unionists should be taking the rise in support for Welsh independence seriously: “If you want to stop what’s happened in Scotland happening in Wales, you need an argument for the union of both the head and the heart.”
“We’ve relied far too heavily in Scotland on the argument of the head, which is the rational economic case against independence.
“We’ve been slower at making a case for the heart. What does the union of the United Kingdom mean in the 21st century? Wales needs to find that answer if it wants to stem divisive nationalism.”
Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru’s candidate in Caerphilly, has argued that Wales’ handling of the pandemic has boosted the argument for Welsh self-determination.
She said: “There have been aspects of the pandemic that have shown that we don’t have to follow Westminster and actually, if we make decisions based on our own needs in Wales, then we benefit.”