Cool heads and detailed arguments must win out if the independence movement is to succeed

Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones / Llinos Dafydd. (CC BY 2.0)

Rhodri Williams

This week, YesCymru’s membership hit a staggering 15,000 – having doubled in just under a month.

There is no doubt that the Welsh independence movement has a real ‘buzz’ to it and there is no reason why that momentum cannot be sustained.

However, we must also be aware that the jump in membership for YesCymru will also bring with it a new level of interest and scrutiny in the cause of Welsh Independence.

We must also be aware that despite more people signing up than ever polls show support at some 30% of the electorate – there is plenty of work yet to do.

Both these factors mean that how supporters of Welsh independence conduct themselves and what arguments they present will be of key importance over the next few months.

A lot of people will be tuning in to the discussion who haven’t been part of it as of yet and many, despite potentially being indy curious, will start from a place of opposition or even hostility.

On the one hand, social media is the movement’s greatest strength as it allows it to reach out to people in a way that would have been impossible if it needed to bypass the gatekeepers of the old media.

However there are dangers too in the unfiltered, anything goes medium, where anyone can portray themselves as a representative of the movement.

The political discussions around the movement have become relentless, and at times, out of control.

Unless those involved remember that their mission is to convince people, not defeat them in a debate, the buzz around independence will remain just a buzz – a temporary phase of public excitement ending in no actual progress and, soon, a sense of stagnation and disillusionment.

 

Detail

If we’re serious about independence we must realise that if and when a referendum comes then people, families and businesses across Wales will be putting an awful lot on the line.
This means that if the Yes campaign are serious about winning then its adherents must have at hand detailed, well thought through and practical solutions to tough questions about issues such as transition periods and borders.

Independence cannot be achieved just by the flying of flags, marches and slogans. Feeling good about being part of a movement will only get it so far.

So far, the history of Wales’ national movements has been of glorious moral victories built on a shoddy foundation of vague promises and a lack of detail.

If we don’t want YesCymru to be another fondly remembered near-victory like Cymru Fydd or Glyndŵr’s rebellion then we all need to take it seriously.

Nations are built on a foundation of detailed planning, preparation for the unknown and what would be the biggest change in Wales’ national history.

If independence really has the best interests of the people of Wales at heart then we owe it to them to provide them with the detailed vision they deserve to make an informed choice.

If we want to place ourselves at the steering wheel of the nation then we need to spare a thought for the passengers – is their futures which will be affected by every turn we take.

Honesty

This also means being honest that while answers to a good number of these questions on independence have already been developed, there is still some ambiguity.

With the tectonic plates of the UK shifting so rapidly what might work now might not work in a few years.

There are also issues within the independence movement, such as the currency and membership of the EU, on which there is no internal agreement.

We have to be honest that there is room for debate on these issues and where solutions cannot be found or agreed upon currently, the population can trust those who are looking to find one to be honest with them about the solutions and potential problems.

If we don’t as individuals have the solutions to problems we must not try to save face in the heat of the moment.

To maintain a cool head and public composure in the face of increased scrutiny will become ever more necessary as the Indy movement progresses.

As well as set an example for the ambition we expect to see for Wales’ future, we must also set the example for what political discussion in Wales should look like.

Too often, many people (myself included) have been drawn into arguments which neither contribute to the conversations of Independence positively.

They have also at times turned people away from asking questions about Welsh independence or discussing the issues because of a barrage of negative responses.

Travel

This must lead to a concerted effort to re-evaluate the way in which we deal with one another and how we react.

So far much has been achieved in a very short time in building the case for Welsh Independence. The direction of travel is good.

A national movement has been created. 30% of the population supports independence already. Double that, and Wales will be independent.

History is within our grasp. Let’s remember that every one we talk to online is a potential supporter, and not an enemy.

A movement of people looking for change and a better future for Wales cannot be broken, apart from within.

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