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Opinion

We need to remember why we’re fighting for independence

22 Aug 2021 5 minute 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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48 Comments
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Shan Morgain
11 months 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
11 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

Do they pay anything to Wales?

Richard
Richard
11 months 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
11 months 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
11 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

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

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
11 months ago

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

Dewi Davies
Dewi Davies
11 months 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?

Dewi Davies
Dewi Davies
11 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Davies

Doesnt make any impact on the scenery though does it.

defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Davies

An irrelevant point: you could say the same about stilton. In any case, the general trend is to get away from fossil fuels.

Aqua Britannica
Aqua Britannica
11 months ago
Reply to  defaid

It isnt irrelevant when you get it from the people you are constantly bad mouthing.

Nor is it irrelevant when it keeps people warm.

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 months ago

How much gas does england produce?

Aquae Britanniae
Aquae Britanniae
11 months ago
Reply to  j humphrys

How much gas does the UK produce?.

Lots

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Davies

So does england!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 months ago

Right on all counts…

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months 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.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Benefits and social welfare are not devolved to wales – nor does wales have the macro economic powers needed to seriously tackle economic and social i equality in Wales. All those powers reside at westminster – it’s the policies of successive uk govt’s which has led to 200,000 children in wales living in poverty.

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Are you a new “sniper” or just one of the old ones with a new identity ? If you think Wales is such a burden on the poor old English just cut us loose and pay for all those vanity projects yourselves. You’ll need to erect turbines on your unspoilt landscapes too instead of extracting energy from Wales. Your lack of resources is evident hence the need for colonialism and now neo colonialism, or is it colonialism mk2. ?

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Ignore it – it’s just another Wales hating cowardly brit nat troll who hasnt got the guts to post their wales hating claptrap under their real name.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Like all anonymous brit nat trolls you specialise in ignoring relevant points which undermine your specious anti- wales claims. Youve completely ignored the points i made regarding major powers being with westminster – youve also completely ignored the ream of vetifiable statistics supporting the case for welsh indy in the article itself. Furthermore, and as Professor Mark Barry of Cardiff University stated last year, the idea that Wales might be too poor or too small to be independent is unsustainable claptrap. If that was true, he said, Wales would be unique, the only place on earth where an independent country… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
11 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Just how many fake names do you need, boy?

If the thought of Wales having an economy of its own frightens you, just admit it and stop wasting people’s time.

Aqua Mercia
Aqua Mercia
11 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

You people – and you personally – have no ideas on child poverty. You would happily see the poorest in the country live with less to satisfy your own hateful xenophoboc views.

How many names do you need?

I know who you are and what your UserIDs are on other sites.

If what you are all saying makes a better country, why are you all becoming a laughing stock of ignorance?

defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Aqua Mercia

On the subject of child poverty, I wonder how many people in this thread have read through the piece to which you linked. The situation is worse in London, NE England, Humber, West Mids and Yorkshire than in Wales. I don’t see the current UK government doing much about it. Given the tenor of your posts, calling others here xenophobic is a bit rich. Devolved governments have a degree of latitude in the treatment of refugees, migrants and foreign students. At least two of them are showing more tolerance and generocity than Westminster. Further, it’s arguable that the “bigoted pensioners”… Read more »

cadi
cadi
11 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

England has a habit of dumping a portion of its social problems over the border to Wales instead of dealing with it where it is happening, that reduces child poverty figure in England and contributes to the figure (and cost) in Wales.

CJPh
CJPh
11 months ago
Reply to  cadi

Wales’ child poverty cannot be solved whilst our economy, most services and legal system is tethered to a larger system we have no ability to change. Now, we’re we an independent state, we could do something for the many impoverished families in Wales. Right now, we have only a pretty worn begging bowl. With a hole in it. It is also possible that child poverty (as well as any number of metrics) could worsen in a free Wales. That’d be our lookout, entirely our responsibility to amend. That’s what indy is about – maximal responsibility.

defaid
defaid
11 months ago

Hello again Mark. I’ve missed your posts 😂. I wonder how long this one will last.

The article makes it quite plain that hundreds of years of Westminster is what’s making Wales poor. I think even you would benefit from independence, if you’d only contemplate the opportunities it would present. The time to argue about party politics is after we’ve gained it.

Last edited 11 months ago by defaid
defaid
defaid
11 months ago

I wouldn’t say there’s much democracy in having your country run by… another country.

Certainly many people wouldn’t get what they as individuals voted for but, if you consider Wales’ general leftward leaning and Westminster’s increasingly right wing trajectory, Wales as a whole very definitely would.

Last edited 11 months ago by defaid
Daniel
Daniel
11 months ago
Reply to  defaid

If regions of an independent Wales consistently voted for a party that didn’t become the government, then would they have the right to secede from Wales?

defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

Are those regions currently separate countries being dictated to by another country?

Wales is a country, not a region.

To take your question to its absurd conclusion, you’ll soon be arguing against me by suggesting I’m in favour of independence for individual people who did not vote for the incumbent government.

Daniel
Daniel
11 months ago
Reply to  defaid

If you get to decide Wales is a country, then why shouldn’t someone else get to decide there’s a another country in Wales? Has Wales really never had multiple kingdoms in it? The NIP are trying to bring back Northumbria.

Also it’s not an absurd conclusion. It’s just the logical one.

Daniel
Daniel
11 months ago
Reply to  defaid

It’s what your Wales didn’t vote Tory so Wales should leave the UK argument would lead to. You’re just too close to it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Daniel
defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

Go back and read my comments properly then please state where I mentioned any political party. “Wales didn’t vote Tory so Wales should leave the UK” is your line. It’s not something I’ve ever argued, which you’d know if you’d really read any of my comments on any N.C article. I’m in favour of independence for an entirely different reason to party politics. Your confusion over countries, nations and regions, and your inability to distinguish between (probably anglo) party politics and (specifically Welsh) national identity shows a lack of insight into the nature of this country. “You’re just too close… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by defaid
Daniel
Daniel
11 months ago
Reply to  defaid

You replied to my comment, where I quoted the article. At any rate the ‘Wales got a government they didn’t vote for’ is a tired line I see again and again. The whole take the ball home thing.

As for the region and country thing, It’s a distinction without a real difference. Wales has been a part of the UK for so long that there is no legitimate reason for them to leave the UK.

Last edited 11 months ago by Daniel
defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

A tired line? It’s only tired on your side of the border. If any complaints anywhere are persistent then there is something that really needs addressing. Taking the ball home is what you are attempting to do by wilfully refusing to acknowledge a big social problem that the entire UK has been suffering for decades. Being dismissive of any such problem is always both arrogant and apathetic. Arguably, in this case it’s also undemocratic. The article provides several compelling reasons for this country to leave the UK. For you to state that there is “no legitimate reason for them to… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by defaid
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago

Er for most of those 100 years wales was entirely controlled by govts at westminster – which included a decade and a half of rule by that famous ‘quasi marxist’ margaret thatcher.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 months ago

Wales continually having economic and social policies imposed on us by govts the people of wales didnt vote for is hardly ‘democratic’. Furthermore Wales is a nation and like every nation on the earth we have the right to manage all own affairs.

Daniel
Daniel
11 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

So you’re going to pretend labor has never been in government? Come next general election the Torys will have been in power for only a year more then the Blair/Brown government. In any democracy you’re going to get people and regions that don’t always vote for the winner. When those people try to take the ball home with them is when democracy dies.

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel

We are a country, not a football team, and we will have our independence.

Alastair Naughton
Alastair Naughton
11 months 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
11 months ago

You mean Yes Cymru,

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 months ago

Well let’s get Indy and have a mixed economy, with heavy schooling on private initiative, teaching kids in school how to start a business and get their ideas out into the market?

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 months ago

It’s the god damned pesky Americans that started it all, then came India…………..

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
11 months 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
11 months 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 11 months ago by Wrexhamian
CJPh
CJPh
11 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Oh hi, Britain’s colonial past still undetgirds a portion of her economy – sections of banking, some services, petroleum and other natural resources, all ‘gained’ via conquest. Now, I disagree with my friend from Wrexham that the current UK economy can be characterised as a ‘colonial’ economy, but Wales position within the current system is secondary – unable to attract inward investment, unable to govern her own industries with any degree of generative control, unable to set her own laws, unable to forge trade relationships, unable to move away from any state-level facet that is not suited to her territory… Read more »

R W
R W
11 months 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
11 months 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
11 months ago

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

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
10 months ago

Westmonster is the mother***** of all parliments

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