Today we march towards a better future as an independent country

Adam Price. Credit: Euan Cherry/WENN

Adam Price, Leader of Plaid Cymru

Something is happening in Wales.

Today, our capital city will play host to the first-ever March for Welsh independence.

It will see people from all across Wales will come together in their hundreds and thousands to proudly declare that Wales’ brightest possible future is as an independent nation at the heart of Europe.

The march has been organised by AUOB Cymru (All Under One Banner), the sister counterpart to Scotland’s All Under One Banner movement who held their independence march a week ago which drew in a 100,000 strong crowd.

Wales has been let down by the Westminster government. We have seen projects abandoned and investments slashed. We have been ignored by a government that can never really truly represent us.

We realise that Brexit will have a devastating impact on our communities and industries. We understand that the loss of vital EU structural funds will never really be replaced by the UK Government. We reject the hostile environment and right-wing British nationalism that Brexit has brought into the mainstream and instead embrace the outward-looking, progressive civic nationalism that Wales can offer where EU citizens and refugees are welcome here.

The last three years of Brexit chaos in London have laid bare for all to see that Westminster is not fit to govern Wales.

The two largest political parties in the UK are in freefall with the European elections likely to see them sink to even further electoral lows.

While Labour and the Tories squabble amongst themselves, our communities and our industries wither on the vine.

Solidarity

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Like Scotland, Wales is headed in towards a better future as an independent country and that future is getting increasingly closer.

The rebuilding, repainting and reproduction of Cofiwch Dryweryn across Wales. The sold-out Yes is More gig which drew in a thousand attendees. The grassroots organisations Yes Cymru, Undod, AUOB Cymru and Welsh Football Fans for Independence and a newfound confidence in engaging and discussing with the citizens of Wales on what an independent Wales could actually look like.

People are waking up to the idea that independence is normal and that Independence isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a necessity. Westminster has ignored us for generations, and people are starting to see that.

Decades of neglect have resulted in poverty and under-investment. A third of our children are living in relative poverty. Our citizens suffer under an unjust and unfair justice system with the highest number of imprisonment in western Europe. Homelessness is epidemic. We’re in a climate emergency and yet we have little to no control over energy and environmental protections.

These reasons alone should be enough to seek our independence from Westminster.

There is another way. There is another future. And the only way to solve the problems we have in both Wales and Scotland is to take our future into our own hands.

We’ve already seen through devolution of powers to Wales, what we can achieve. We were one of the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency and one of the first countries in the world to declare our solidarity with the Kurdish hunger strikers protesting human rights abuses in Turkey and the continued solitary confinement of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Imagine then, what an outward-looking, fairer, progressive and welcoming country – where anyone who wants to be Welsh can call Wales their home, contribute to the world with all the powers we need?

Independence isn’t the end. It is a beginning.

Future

All of this is happening, of course, to a European election backdrop and I believe that a vote for Plaid Cymru in Wales in these elections could be another significant step on our journeys to a better, independent European future.

Some people will say this election is pointless but they are wrong. This election could send a more powerful message than any other.

Plaid Cymru’s message is simple – we will make Wales matter.

Plaid Cymru is the only party in Wales that unequivocally supports holding a People’s Vote to remain in the European Union. It is the only Remain party that has a chance of winning seats in the European Parliament.

I understand why people voted for Brexit. I understand the exasperation and the frustration and I don’t blame anyone who voted Leave.

It was the wrong answer to the right question and I do not believe that leaving the European Union is the answer to our democratic deficit as nations. It is Westminster, not Brussels that has ignored Wales over the years.

Joining the EU as an independent member would double our number of MEPs, give us the Presidency of the Council on a rotating basis and a Commissioner, and billions of Cohesion Funding until we are brought back up to decent levels of prosperity. When did Westminster ever offer us that?

For many years, our desire to see an independent Wales has seemed distant. But the tide is turning, the marches are growing, and the voices are louder.

Today I will be proud to march alongside my fellow citizens under banners and banging drums, as we walk hand in hand towards a better, brighter and bolder future for Wales and its people.

It is time to make Wales matter and take our future into our hands as an independent nation.

The march organized by AUOBCymru (All Under One Banner), will start at 1.30pm at Cardiff City Hall.


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