Westminster’s too-late lockdown shows that Wales would be better off running itself
I’ve been ‘indy curious’ for years. I wrote my first few pieces exploring Welsh independence a couple of years ago but since then have swayed a little.
In truth, the prospect of a genuinely socialist Labour running the UK Government party turned my head. Perhaps there was hope of reforming the British state, after all.
However, the leaked report into the Labour party, showing how hard the party’s centre tried to scupper Corbyn’s chances of winning the election, along with evidence of institutionalised racism and antisemitism, shows how deep-seated the problems are.
The appointment of Keir Starmer as leader does little to persuade me otherwise. Welsh Labour persuade me even less, particularly with their handling of the coronavirus. We may as well have the Tories in charge, given the Welsh Government has largely moved in lockstep with the UK Government’s disastrous policies.
The other hurdle that obscured my path to support Welsh Independence is that I’m not a nationalist. I don’t want to create a hard border between England and Wales. I spent several years living in England and I feel as much in common with English people as I do Welsh.
But being pro-Wales isn’t being anti-English. An independent Wales is for people of all nationality. And let’s face it, Brexit has unearthed the worst of Britain.
The British problem is that the British state is an intrinsically violent, imperialist and hegemonic state, and I think it’s beyond redemption. Inequality is too heavily inbuilt into its makeup.
The position of the monarchy, the power of the upper-class elites, the presence of the Tories - they can’t be escaped. They will always come back, and they will always impose austerity or some other violent political agenda in order to further intensify the wealth of the rich. The right wing newspapers of Britain will always support this.
The British state, by its very design, aims to transfer wealth into fewer and fewer hands, at the expense of the many. I now believe it is beyond reform.
In Wales we have a different option. We can choose to start afresh. We can reject the monarchy, reject the power of the House of Lords, we can choose a new form of economics.
We can embrace universal basic income, we can place high taxes on the wealthy, we can prioritise the rebuilding of the NHS, we can tax fossil fuels to invest in green energy, we can implement proportional representation, we can improve our public transport infrastructure, we can scrap tuition fees, we can support small businesses not large corporations, we can invest in local communities rather than offshore profits, the list goes on.
We will never achieve this under the British state. The UK has contempt for Wales.
The Covid-19 crisis shows that the British state will do whatever it can preserve the wealth of the elites. They were abysmally slow to order the lockdown, even when seeing the disastrous consequences in countries such as Spain and Italy (who we passed last week in daily Covid-19 deaths).
Instead they went for a herd immunity plan. No 10 have denied that the plan was “protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad” as reported in the Sunday Times. However it’s hard to conclude anything other than that fear of crashing the stock market (the stock market ended up crashing anyway) held them back an earlier lockdown that could have saved the lives of thousands of people.
The ideological pursuit of so-called ‘herd immunity’ — a double-speak term for laissez-faire or ‘do nothing’ — proves the malice at the core of British politics.
Even when No. 10 eventually sprang into action there is a strong argument that Wales and Scotland would be better off handling the crisis themselves. On testing kits and PPE Welsh and Scottish governments and care services have been left in the lurch by a Westminster government who have insisted on running everything centrally – badly.
Meanwhile smaller, nimbler nations have more readily adapted to the crisis. Wales has the opportunity to join the other small nations of Europe and pursue a progressive form of politics.
The desire for Welsh sovereignty and the importance of self-determination is not the other side of the coin to the ugly nationalism of Britain. The liberation of Wales is in part a defensive act against a violent state, but more than that, it’s the ambition for a better future for our children.
That’s why I now support independence for Wales.