Saturday’s march is an opportunity to set a political route map for independence
Aled Gwyn Jôb
Note: Aled Gwyn Jôb is YesCaernarfon Treasurer and Ein Gwlad Communication Officer. However, the author wishes to make it clear that he is writing in a personal capacity and not as a representative of Yes Cymru, AUOB or Ein Gwlad.
This Saturday only the second ever march for Welsh independence will take place in Caernarfon.
When the decision was made to stage the march at Caernarfon, that wholesome Welsh competitive spirit was immediately invoked.
The first march in the capital city Cardiff in May, proved to be a glorious, technicolour occasion which defied the naysayers and all their doubts about Cardiff’s receptivity to such a cause.
The mantle was well and truly laid down that day by AUOB, the organisers of that brilliant march which attracted around 3,500 people to the city centre.
Caernarfon, the capital of Welsh-speaking Wales, had to pick up the mantle and respond in kind!
The YesCaernarfon group, one of the most active YesCymru groups in Wales have (along with AUOB) sought to build upon the foundations laid down in Cardiff and take it to a whole new level by arranging a day-long Independence festival in the town this Saturday, July 27.
So, the march itself has become a cultural festival across the whole town, with local bands playing in different locations during the afternoon and the evening. The festival atmosphere along the sun-lit and tight and winding streets of Caernarfon should be spectacular.
But, the politics of Independence will also be placed centre stage by means of a discussion forum to be held at Y Copa, on Y Maes in the town at 3.00pm.
This discussion will concentrate on transforming the growing awareness of and support for independence into political power that will eventually lead to the Senedd passing a Welsh Independence Referendum Act and the holding of a referendum on the matter.
‘A road map to Independence’ forum will be chaired by Dr. Carl Clowes, and will feature the three pro-independence political parties, Plaid Cymru (Councillor. Elin Walker Jones), Gwlad ( Gwyn Wigley Evans), and Cymru Sovereign (Gruff Meredith).
The forum will discuss the next practical steps towards Independence and explore whether the different political parties can co-operate to achieve this goal.
One question to be discussed is whether the three parties could consider sharing some sort of broad ‘pro-independence platform’ in time for the next Welsh General Election of 2021.
At first glance this would appear to be fraught with difficulties. Plaid declares itself to be a socialist party. Gwlad (formed last year) describes itself as a small c (common sense) and large N (nationalist) party, whilst Cymru Sovereign (formed in 2016) describes itself as a ‘real independence’ party committed to leaving both EU and UK unions.
So, there would seem to be some clear ideological differences between the three pro-independence parties, which can’t just be wished out of existence.
But then exceptional circumstances call for exceptional responses.
It goes without saying that the political earthquake of Brexit has rendered the whole political terrain in the UK almost unrecognisable to what preceded it. Nothing can ever be the same again.
And with Boris Johnson’s ascension to the role of UK prime minister this week – the ultimate personification of the entitlement and arrogance of the south-east of England and its presumption that it can rule and dominate the whole of these isles – this only intensifies the sense that if ever there was a time for nationalists in Wales to come together, beyond the sterile and futile Remainers v Leavers culture war – well this is it.
One option to be discussed at the forum is the possibility that the three political parties could also support a Welsh Independence Convention to include all the various groups and parties who support Independence.
This could be modelled on the Scottish Independence Convention which has been in place for some years and which has served to build up the Independence cause over and above party lines in Scotland today.
These are undoubtedly dangerous times for Wales, with everything seemingly falling apart at the seams in so many ways. But then breakdowns can often lead to breakthroughs.
YesCymru’s inspirational campaign over the past two years or so has led to breakthroughs in areas of Wales which have hitherto proved to be totally inhospitable to the nationalist cause. YesCymru’s lead has also encouraged local councils to enter the fray, with around 20 having declared for independence over recent weeks.
This momentum is starting to normalize independence quicker than anyone could ever have anticipated.
It was said of the Gaelic League in Ireland, and its emphasis on a revival of all things Irish at the end of the 19th century: ‘It spread like wildfire throughout the nation’.
It would seem that the independence idea is catching hold of the public imagination in Wales in exactly the same way.
The discussion forum at Copa will further stimulate this imagination and provide another small indicator that Wales is starting to normalize itself as a democratic country as well.
That is, having more than one national party in existence as is the norm in other small European nations.
If Catalunya can have five independence parties, and Euskadi (Basque Country) can have four, why can’t Wales have three?
This will allow for more, discussion, more participation and more engagement in the whole independence debate and in the democratic process in general.
And ultimately, more choice for Welsh voters as to exactly the kind of post-devolution, Independent Wales that could be created in the years ahead.