A national movement can give Wales the hope it craves
Aled Gwyn Jôb
Most of our attention since the election has been paid to Theresa May’s defeat in the election ‘she called but failed to turn up for’, as Green MP Caroline Lucas put it.
But it was also a stunning defeat for the UK tabloid newspapers which have been virtually dictating government policies for the last forty years.
The Sun and the Daily Mail threw the kitchen sink at Jeremy Corbyn during the election.
But despite their apocalyptic warnings, the indefatigable Mr Corbyn achieved a remarkable 40% of the vote.
With the declining tabloids now neutralized as an electoral force and other forms of alternative media emerging all the time, there is a real opportunity to craft a new political future for our nation.
As someone who has experience of depression and anxiety, I have found that social engagement is a key part of one’s recovery.
When you reach out to other people and engage in new social/political activities with others, your whole mindset changes.
You start to see yourself differently and you start to see life differently. You see opportunities and possibilities where previously problems and limitations reigned supreme.
And when you think about it, Wales is a country pretty much plagued by depression and anxiety at this point in time.
There is, after all, a lot to be depressed about. Our industrial base was wiped out during the 80es and a whole generation consigned to the scrapheap in scores of valley communities.
The poverty and a myriad of social problems associated with drink, drugs, and gambling which plague these former industrial communities speak for themselves.
And the immediate future seems to better. We live in an increasingly anxious nation; unsure what Brexit holds, and at the complete mercy of a Westminster establishment which may well decide not to replace the monies that Wales received from the European Union.
But we’ve lost more than jobs. We’ve also lost a part of our national character.
Our language has retreated further and further over the past generation. The census of 2011, showed even Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire falling under the threshold of 50% Welsh speakers.
Such a decline has obvious social and cultural implications. But what about the psychological implications of seeing your mother tongue – the very core of who you are as an individual- slipping away every day?
What about the deep personal hurt felt by thousands every single day of not being sure whether they can use Welsh in everyday transactions in communities which have been Welsh-speaking for 1,500 years?
There is surely some correlation between this phenomenon and the significant increase in mental health issues in Welsh -speaking Wales since 1979.
The same goes for our tradition of faith, which has always co-existed with the development of this nation over time and served to preserve our traditions for hundreds of years.
Its retreat leaves more and more individuals of all ages at the mercy of a completely individualistic and materialistic culture.
The progressive atomisation of society and soaring levels of loneliness reported amongst all ages in Wales has created a fraught, alienated and hopeless nation.
What’s the answer to depression and anxiety on a personal level? Social Engagement.
What’s the answer to depression and anxiety at a community/national level? Social Engagement.
I believe that Yes Cymru, the new non-partisan grouping campaigning for Independence for Wales, has the potential to promote this sense of social engagement throughout Wales.
It can provide a cause that can enthuse people, inspire people and energise people to engage with each other and with our communities like never before.
New groups are popping up across the country (there are 18 at the last count).
Yes Cymru’s strength is that they recognise that different parts of Wales will have different ideas about what Wales means for them.
They allow each group the freedom to promote the case for independence in their own particular way.
What’s particularly encouraging is that many of the people in these groups are completely new to the national movement, with fresh ideas and creative ways of looking at and promoting independence.
Yes Cymru seeks above all to encourage and empower individuals in all parts of the country to talk to their family, friends, neighbours and co-workers about Independence for Wales.
The newly published handbook “Independence in Your Pocket” is full of concrete facts and arguments for independence.
But that’s just the start of what is meant to be an animated and continuous national discussion about Independence in both Welsh and English.
Plaid Cymru have obviously achieved a huge amount for Wales over the years. They continue to be served by dedicated and hard-working representatives at both Cardiff and London.
But it has always been a top-down party, fixated on winning parliamentary/assembly seats for specific candidates at specific elections.
Yes Cymru presumes a much more co-operative way of persuading people of the merits of independence.
It’s not about thinking that particular individuals at particular elections are the answer: it’s about saying that all of us are the answer, and that by working together as people in communities all over Wales we can come up with creative answers to meet whatever problems come our way.
It’s a grassroots and participative approach far removed from the “we know best” mentality that so bedevils Westminster and Cardiff Bay.
Wales has huge untapped natural resources in wind and water, a burgeoning food and drink industry, cultural potential, international tourism and economic enterprise.
These will obviously be at the core of the Independence campaign over the next few years which will seek a national plebiscite, probably in the wake of the next Scottish Independence referendum in 2019.
But, the main resource and treasure that Wales has is its own people, all 3 million of them.
This social capital – the close links that individuals have with each other and our communities and the trust that this social capital engenders amongst people – will be the main driver for independence.
If Yes Cymru can tap into this rich vein of social capital in Wales, and persuade people that they can truly be part of the new political terrain we now inhabit, an Independent Wales could be upon us sooner than we think.
I sense there’s a real thirst for fresh involvement, engagement, participation, and meaning in our communities at this time of great change.
And dare I say it, a spiritual longing for a more cohesive, a more equal, and a more people-centred country, free from the venal, money-orientated and the class-riven Westminster model which has long lost all its integrity.
Let us hope that more and more will now join up with this independence project so we can lift the heavy cloud of depression and anxiety which has hung over this nation for too long!
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First thing first! Leanne Wood needs to be removed as leader of Plaid!!
The depression Wales suffers from is a form of PTSD, similar to that experienced by child abuse victims. The neglect and Self harm shown can also be compqred to that of someone in an abusive relationship.
In the English language, dependence is a synonym for addiction. Were Wales a person, a psychologist would analyse her history and have a clear roadmap in how to move forward. As the article hints at, its time to talk about Wales in our social and family circles, stop paying attention to institutions that neglect her and deny her abuse the air of silence.
This is true. From Adam Price’s ‘The First and Final Colony’; ‘Colonialism in any society and in any period is an act of violation which results in a kind of trauma whose effects are felt for many generations. Hence the most long-lasting and deep-seated legacy of colonialism is psychological. It was the mixed-race French-speaking Caribbean Frantz Fanon, practising psychiatry and preaching revolution in occupied Algeria, who first realised this and began to write painfully but eloquently about the psychology of colonialism. Welsh psychologists and psychotherapists by contrast have been almost completely silent on this theme. Dr Dilys Davies of Guy’s… Read more »
A big YES for YesCymru!
As long as YesCymru does not get hijacked by the Left and excludes centrists and centre-rightists and more capitalistic types I will fully support them. But with Welsh movements, that exclusion of other economic-political opinions is always a concern.
“Welsh movements” – That’s quite a generalisation – did you have anything in particular in mind?
“Yes Cymru’s strength is that they recognise that different parts of Wales will have different ideas about what Wales means for them.
“They allow each group the freedom to promote the case for independence in their own particular way.”
Otherwise known as saying all things too all people. Very much like the Lib Dems then
Like it Gareth,
Spot on as far as the first two comments go and partially there with the first half of the third. However, whether Tory, Labour or Lib Dems YesCymru is nothing like them at all they are a Cymreig founded and based organisation not a foreign and British based one.
Let’s not take away from its founder or the perople invloved at this very early stage by comparing it to anything outdated, divisive and decrepid as what the British have to offer.
‘Otherwise known as saying all things too all people. Very much like the Lib Dems then’. Think you’re being a bit harsh there Gareth. It’s more a case i think of uniting as many people as possible around the aim of independence for wales.
An independence movement HAS to be “all things to all people” though doesn’t it? Otherwise what we’re campaigning for is a one party state!
Sorry, when I said ‘all things too all people’ I probably should have said say this in the north and that in the south.
It was a bit tongue in cheek of me to reference he Lib Dems, but they famously say one thing in Labour seats and one thing in Conservative seats, one thing in rural areas and one thing in urban areas.
What YesCymru need is one solid coherent message that’ll resonate with everyone in Wales, regardless of geography, wealth, political affiliation, etc. and I don’t see that message at the moment.
Gareth, the message is – independence is best for Wales. As you correctly point out, many political affiliations, doctrines needs welcoming.
Not enough, not soon enough? Have you joined YesCymru? Because non of us can do anything form the outside looking in, you have to join and commit to an Independent Cymru. I’ve joined and I’m not home yet, but later this year I’ll be there! Just remember Gareth each YesCymru group is local and deals with all local issues within their specific area. This is obviously without the pressure from Westminster or their Llackies within Cymru. You have nailed it on the head when you talk about the geographical and traditional differences, but we have to remember the British have… Read more »
If by coherent message you’re after party style “message discipline” on policies on e.g. tax and spending then I think it’s unrealistic. Yes isn’t going to have policies on those sorts of things because it’s not a political party – it’s about offering choices. The key message IS “We should have the choice”. Not “We should do X”
Dafydd ap Gwilym. I like what you are saying, but being the pedant I have to point out that it is the Cymreig who are actually ‘the British’. The Angles Saxons Vikings Scots et al came over to Brython and pushed the natives back into what we now call Wales. It’s not Britain, or the British who are your ‘enemy’ but Whitehall and the Westminster government. That said I would offer some advice to fellow Celts seeking national self determination, gained from bitter experience from indyref#1 here in Scotland. Do not accept or believe propaganda from the state broadcaster brainwashing… Read more »
Being a pedant, I have to point out that amongst the Weksh, the English word “British” can gave lots of different meanings. You can get people using “British” as in “Welsh, not Scottish or English”, but using it to mean “covering the whole island of Britain, and by implication the culture dominating that island at present and the government in Westminster” is perfectly normal. There’s quite a complex history of the words we have used to describe ourself, in both our languages, but this probably isn’t the time to go into it! Suffice it to say that how Dafydd used… Read more »
iantoddu I admire your resolve but can I point out a wee bit of the experience that the Yes movement in Scotland has found and that is that networking on social media was an absolute godsend in breaking the monopoly that the state broadcaster and its acolytes in the MSM has had over news & current affairs. Facebook & twitter can expose government misinformation and mendacity within minutes and spread amongst social networks far quicker than public meetings or pamphleting ever could. One reason they are putting out so much false news is to undermine confidence in social media. They… Read more »
Annwyl iantoddu, Totally agree and yes it is very complicated. However, that complication has always come from the, I would say, ‘British establishment which is controlled by the English elite via Westminster and their Llackies (as I call them) within Cymru and other regions, in recent years. Obviously, Anglo-Norman Winchester, other royal sites, itinerant courts and other places further back in time. I am glad more people are seeing what YesCymru are all about, good to hear other voices (okay read other texts, but ya know what I mean) than me own! I am about to reply to Gordon as… Read more »
As mentioned an Independence campaign HAS to be closer to “all things to all people” – it’s not a political party 🙂 You can’t run a Yes campaign by alienating people on divisive issues. Different people have different reasons for wanting independence, and for recognising the benefits. For example, I’d prefer to be in the EU. But that’s a small matter to me compared to out the UK. Given choice of OutEUOutUK or InEUInUK – i’ll happily take the former. The banner is Independence and sovereignty. When that is achieved, the political parties get on with the democracy like in… Read more »
Rydw’i w di mwynhau darllen y erthygl yma yn fawr iawn, diolch Aled! This is a powerful testimony linking personal experience to a vision of a future for Wales that really resonates. Your description of an atomised society starting to be healed by grass roots social engagement is exactly what has drawn me to yescymru. The idea that the answers to our problems lie within our own gift to collectively solve, is empowering and exviting. I think we have an opportunity not to be missed, to co-create something better out of the current shambolic status quo.
WILL BELIEVE THIS TO BE FOR REAL WHEN I SEE YOU ALL RUSH TO BOLGOED ON 9TH JULY TO LAUNCH LIBERATION OF MYNYDD Y GWAIR, IF YOU CANNOT DO THAT THEN NOT AN HOPE OF LIBERATING YOUR COUNTRY, THAT IS REALITY FIGHT BACK FOR REAL. NO MORE FB FANTASY AND WISHFUL THINKING – TIME TO GET REAL! GETHIN.