Opinion

We need to remember why we’re fighting for independence

22 Aug 2021 5 minutes Read
Lluniau gan / Pictures by Lluniau Lleucu

Rhys ab Owen MS, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for the constitution

As I write this, almost a third of Welsh children are living in poverty.

Let that sink in.

200,000 children in Wales living in absolute poverty.

A damning indictment of the legacy of Westminster. If that isn’t a reason to fight for Welsh independence, I don’t know what is.

For Plaid Cymru, it’s never been about independence for independence’ sake but rather for the thousands of families whose futures depend on Wales becoming a fairer, more prosperous and equal nation.

That was true before the election and it’s true now.

Independence for Wales remains our long-term raison d’etre simply because we want to make the lives of people better.

That better future will not be served by being a member of an unequal nation.

An unequal nation where universal credit payments given to support the most vulnerable are set to be cut by £20.

An unequal nation where we don’t get the Government we vote for.

An unequal nation where the cost of living is rising while people’s incomes are falling.

An unequal nation where the Conservative Government at Westminster continues to undermine Wales and our Senedd.

An unequal nation where the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider and wider.

An unequal nation where most of the wealth is centralised in one city – London.

An unequal nation where Welsh taxpayers’ money is spent to pay for expensive projects like HS2 that won’t ever benefit us, whilst projects such as electrifying our railways or the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon are ditched.

An unequal nation where the cronies at Westminster stumble from one mismanaged crisis to the next – the Coronavirus pandemic, dodgy trade deals, Afghanistan.

But if Wales became independent, we wouldn’t be bound by such inequalities.

We’d get the Government we voted for every time.

We would have the power to control our economy – and make it thrive.

We would have the power to make our own decisions over our future.

We would have the power to enact real change to benefit the most vulnerable in our communities.

I have no doubt that we could do it.

Advantage

GDP of Wales is approximately £73bn (2018), this makes Wales the 70th richest country in the world, out of around 200 independent countries. GDP per capita of Wales is approx. £21,000 (2018), the 36th highest in the world (out of around 200) meaning Wales has on average higher wages than Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic & Greece.

On a global scale, Wales is therefore relatively wealthy.

Our tax revenue per head is higher than New Zealand.

In an article in early 2020 Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University rejected the idea that Wales might be too poor or too small to be independent. If that was true, he said, Wales would be unique, the only place on earth where an independent country of three million people could not survive.

The key question is whether our economy and well-being is best served by the Westminster elite, or by something more common across the world – i.e. taking control of our affairs as an independent nation.

We’re also an energy rich country with 15 percent of the whole of Europe’s tidal power.

We already export twice as much electricity as we use and are the world’s 6th biggest electricity exporter.

We could do more, but Westminster consistently fails to invest in Welsh projects such as the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon which would generate even greater economic benefits to the country.

An independent Wales would not have to wait for the Westminster Government to fund our ‘green’ projects and we would be free to take advantage of record low interest rates to pump prime our economy and invest in green energy projects.

We could take full advantage of our wonderful natural resources which could deliver significant tax revenues and income to the Welsh nation.

Belief

Also, what about transport? In transport terms the UK has failed Wales badly.

Wales has 11% of the UK rail network but only 1% of investment in recent years.

Transport spending per head in Wales is less than half that in London, which has seen a succession of multi-billion pound rail projects over recent decades.

Welsh tax payers are contributing billions towards HS2 despite the damaging effect on the Welsh economy. Meanwhile, there will be no Carmarthen to Aberystwyth or Aberystwyth to Bangor rail link – we’ll still have to travel through England to go from south to north Wales.

We could develop a Swansea Bay and Western Valleys Metro too – but the Westminster Government simply don’t provide a fair share of funding to deliver it.

Investment in infrastructure is vital towards improving economic performance. It’s time that Wales took full control of our transport infrastructure with the freedom to invest and prioritise our infrastructure.

I truly believe that Wales can be independent, and we’d all be better off because of it.

So, whether we are marching all under one banner or engaging in conversations on social media, we need to take that energy and belief we have in an independent Wales and translate it into conversations with our fellow countrymen – street by street, community by community, to those who remain unsure or nervous about independence but are willing to listen.

Independence is possible. Independence can happen. Independence is the norm. It is time for Wales to join the international stage.

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Shan Morgain
1 month ago

I was particularly disappointed the  Swansea Bay tidal lagoon was dropped at the last minute. Plus thank you, I did not know we already export twice as much electricity as we use and are the world’s 6th biggest electricity exporter. There’s also water which we export to the Midlands on a grand scale at low cost.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

Do they pay anything to Wales?

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

Do they pay anything to Wales for the water? Maybe they’d argue that they gave the Welsh economy a tourism boost by so generously paying for those picturesque reservoirs.

Dim problem
Dim problem
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

You’ll be amazed to discover that no-one pays the English for their electricity or water either. That’s the result of the privatisation of natural resources and utilities, which can be changed whether we have independence or not.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

So, why do we need any more of these damned white electric trees?

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
1 month ago

Very well said, Rhys – it’s time for independence now.

Dewi Davies
Dewi Davies
1 month ago

I agree with everything that’s written.
The electricity export is the one that really raises my hackles.So much being exported from Wales and yet theres constant applications for new turbines almost weekly.Whos getting the benefit of that.Certainly not us.Our beautiful countryside is being ruined by these monstrosities but I’ve yet to see an application for one being placed any near the Cotswolds.,Lake district or peak district. I wonder why that is?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Right on all counts…

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Good piece of work. Plaid needs to be attacking the entire economic and social underperformance consistently, some aimed at the Cardiff Bay regime while the rest can rightly be aimed at Westminster.

Alastair Naughton
Alastair Naughton
1 month ago

I see that Plaid Cymru has done the honourable thing and resigned rather than cave into the bullying of the transactivist agenda. Please let the Welsh independence movement not be hijacked by this poison the way the SNP in Scotland has, to the extent that they have completely taken independence off the table, gone multilateralist instead of unilateralist (without consulting anyone), and under Sturgeon, the poverty gap between an adult male in Drumchapel and Bearsden (two areas of Glasgow just a mile apart from each other) has risen from 10 to 17 years!!!! Furthermore, the Rebuttal Unit that was supposed… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

You mean Yes Cymru,

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

We need to remember that there are a host of potential reasons for supporting independence. And each of us has a different mix of reasons. And resents being told what are THE reasons for supporting independence.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

In other words, a transition from a colonialist economy to a mixed econmy that works for specific benefit of Wales. Sounds very reasonable.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wrexhamian
R W
R W
1 month ago

Good to know that PC have the imagination to see what an independent Cymru could look like. What a a tragedy it is that the electorate keep voting for an unimaginative and unambitious Welsh Labour party at Senedd elections.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

I agree wholeheartedly with this article. For me independence is about our children, their future and dragging the poor amongst them out of poverty.The UK is the 5th or 6th biggest economy in the world – there is no justification for any child poverty at all ! It is an utter disgrace. We must strive to stop it through independence – today !

Lorcán Mac 'a Bruthainn
Lorcán Mac 'a Bruthainn
24 days ago

I agree , we just need to convince the old industrial heartlands so we can get an independent political party in power .🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

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