Morgan Bowler-Brown, with contributions by Sioned James (co-chairs of Plaid Ifanc)
On Saturday I joined 8,000 other people and their flags on the maes of Caernarfon, within the walls of its famous castle, to march for Welsh independence. If you weren’t there, you missed something special.
Of all the great speeches I’d heard that day, one line in particular by YesCymu chair, Siôn Jobbins, had stayed with me as he described gaining momentum for the movement:
“We want you – we want you as you are.”
These words are foundational to the All Under One Banner campaign: one goal, all voices. Yes Cymru also state proudly that they are an organisation “open to all who believe in independence for Wales”.
With this understanding, it can be expected that what an independent Wales looks like will be different to each of the 8000 people who marched for the cause. These visions cross political divides, share and exclude differing values, and rest upon unique experiences.
All individuals and organisations have a part to play in the independence movement. To Yes Cymru we owe the launch of the campaign, the momentum, the growing rhythm of the pendulum dial, #indycurious, meme pages, and dozens of groups and communities popping up across the country standing up for Wales.
They are the 8,000 pairs of feet on the ground and flagpoles held to the sky – the broad church of Welsh Independence.
It’s the role of Plaid Cymru within that movement, and all its members and sections, to stand firm and proudly present our vision of the Wales we want to see. There should be no mystery box – it should be crystal clear.
When the time comes, like Scotland, we must be ready and waiting with white paper in hand, built by the evidence and ideas of people from all walks of life, all societies and all communities.
It’s therefore important to keep at the forefront of our minds that Independence isn’t the end of the story. What will a Post-Yes Wales look like?
As Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, has said, we must employ people’s imagination and move their ideas from the abstract to the concrete. We must help others design their vision of a Free Wales.
How do we do this? As my nan used to say “it’s better to be early than late”. Why should we wait for a yes vote when we can start living by our principles now? We need to act according to the blueprint of our independence manifesto.
This means sexism, racism, transphobia, fascism, climate change deniers, anti-refugee rhetoric and the opinion of “independence uber alles” is not welcome in the Wales we want to see. Our Free Wales will be radical and life-affirming, not a tinkering at the edges.
As has been said numerous times in discussions across Wales, including with supporters of Yes Cymru, those who are #IndyCurious, and members of the Plaid Cymru at all levels, there is absolutely zero point in going for Indy unless it’s a country worth living in.
I don’t want to be independent if we are just a carbon-copy of the British-state with all the same problems.
A recent article by Adam Price marks the end of internalised separation of ideas within our party. The days of populism and bigotry are behind us. We now stride towards a Plaid Cymru government backed by progressive and inclusive politics.
Mirroring this demonstration of core values, this weekend Plaid Ifanc, a section of Plaid Cymru dedicated to members under 30, launched a new membership campaign.
Its purpose is to help grow our base of young activists who can contribute to our outward looking vision of a just and equal future.
I’ve designed a series of posters, stickers and flyers emblazoned with a simple messages and pattern:
“Our members are” … “if you are too, why not join us?”
The campaign is a call to arms, clearly stating the issues most important to the youngest members of our party, ranging from climate change, to the rise of right-wing groups in Wales.
A Plaid Ifanc member, Polly Manning, wrote last year:
“Plaid Ifanc are feminist, environmentalist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT and BAME rights, anti-imperialist, and anti-classist. Yes, that’s a lot of ‘ist’s. Do I see that as a problem? Of course not.
“All inequalities within a society are inherently interlinked, woven of the same cloth. What I most admire about my peers in the youth section is their ability to perceive intersectional struggle, to recognise the way in which the protection and promotion of these values is not only ideal, but completely critical to the achievement of our ultimate aim: namely, that of an independent, socialist Welsh Republic able to be a force for good on the global scale.”
Plaid Ifanc are not afraid to stand up for what we believe in, simply put I see it as being up to us to lead and let others follow.
We’re eager to welcome those who share our stance, I hope that our new campaign is a beacon for anyone in search of a community and a home.
Truly our arms are open wide and we want to welcome all.
Our hope, as a movement, is to solidify our role in the road to independence. Our messages will be seen in rallies all over, on placards, on walls, on flags, on clothing. More importantly the words will be matched by our actions.
We can be a counter-voice to fascism and intolerance, we can pressurise those with a stage to ensure all voices are heard and represented, we can empower others to do the same.
Plaid Cymru is proud to have a hugely varied membership. Growing our party sections and displaying our diversity is vital going forward if we are to shake off the old stereotypes of Welsh Nationalism.
The youth are our future as they say. The ideas, energy and enthusiasm that comes from “y Genhedlaeth Annibyniaeth Newydd” – “the New Independence Generation”, will be that final push helping us over the last one inch of the final mile we are now in on Plaid Cymru’s 94 year long journey to a Free Wales.
It’s because of this that I’m so proud to be a co-chair of Plaid Ifanc, right at the heart of ‘Y Genhedlaeth Annibyniaeth Newydd’ where I belong.
So say it with me “What do we want? Independence. When do we want it? Now.”