Gareth Ceidiog Hughes
The indy Wales movement has enormous capacity for growth.
The latest YouGov poll commissioned by YesCymru has demonstrated that there is a rich seam of potential supporters for it to mine.
According to the poll, with ‘don’t knows’ removed, 65 per cent trust the Senedd to look after the interests of the people of Wales but only 28 per cent trust the UK Parliament to do so. Only 35 per cent did not trust the Senedd while a whopping 72 per cent didn’t trust Westminster.
When you put this in the context of a recent poll putting support for an independent Wales at 32 per cent, you can see that there is an awful lot of room for expansion. The message from the people of Wales is perfectly clear. They do not trust Westminster to look after their interests, and quite frankly, nor should they.
It is also pretty clear from the polling that the potential for growth for the anti-democratic and unpatriotic forces who want to abolish Welsh democracy and take away the right of the Welsh people to control their own lives and make their own laws, is far smaller. It is not so small that it can be casually dismissed either, but they are at a distinct disadvantage to the pro-independence movement in many regards.
The present gap in trust between the Westminster elite and the Senedd isn’t even close. Welsh democracy wins handsomely. To say Westminster loses by a country mile would be to describe it as far closer than it is.
I’ve been on record as saying that Wales needs to wake up and wake up quickly. The UK is falling apart, and Wales is still far behind Scotland in terms of the independence debate. I’m still worried that the union will break apart without Wales having prepared for it properly. But the recent polling does at least show that there are reasons to be optimistic.
Even most of those who have not converted to be supporters of full-fat independence are at the very least adherents to a kind of semi-skimmed form of autonomy. We should also remember that it wasn’t so long ago that support for independence was at a lowly 7 per cent. The movement has come a long way in a short amount of time.
It needs to go further, it needs to do so, quickly, and the clock is ticking. But those within the independence movement understand the urgency with which the cause needs to be pursued in the current climate, and the challenge is to get that message across to the general public, most of whom do not think about politics all that often and are busily getting on with their lives.
This is purely anecdotal, so its significance should not be overstated, but I took part in YesCymru’s National Banners on Bridges Day recently, and the feedback from the public seemed overwhelmingly warm and enthusiastic. Though for balance, I should also admit I did spot one guy sticking up a V sign. That said, there does seem to be something in the air. There is palpable enthusiasm for the cause. Veterans of such campaigns have told me that such enthusiasm for the cause from the public is a relatively new development.
It does also chime with what we’re seeing in the opinion polls. Were I a Welsh unionist, I would be very worried indeed.
The thoughtful Conservative Member of the Senedd David Melding said today that: “My view is that the UK will end in the 2020s unless it is artfully reformed and again inspires an idea bigger than national independence.”
The likelihood of an artful reformation of the UK does not seem particularly high, and even if it were to happen, the way things are going in Scotland, the chances are, it wouldn’t be enough to keep the union together anyway.
Therefore, the decision Wales makes about its national destiny should be made with that context in mind. Scottish independence will transform the debate in Wales. The union will no longer exist to remain a part of.
It has been argued persuasively that the demography of Wales is more challenging for supporters of independence than it is in Scotland, and perhaps it is indeed the case. That said, it seems to me, within the figures contained in the latest opinion poll lies the potential for hegemony in favour of the pro-independence side.
The leap from trusting the Senedd to look after Wales’ interests more than Westminster to believing in full-blown independence is not an enormous one. It would not astound me to see an increasing number of my compatriots take the next step.