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Opinion

YesCymru needs to move forward – members should vote for the new proposals at the EGM

06 Dec 2021 6 minutes Read
Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones / Llinos Dafydd. (CC BY 2.0)

Meic Pattison, member of the YesCymru Gweithgor

I would like to thank my colleague and neighbour Dr Dyfrig Jones for his opinion piece arguing that people should vote against the new proposals at YesCymru’s EGM on Saturday.

However, as a member of the Gweithgor, who has stayed the course, I cannot agree with his opinion that members should vote against the new proposals – for the following reasons.

We do not need to rehearse the issues that led to the implosion of YesCymru’s Central Committee during 2021, but it is clear hard lessons have been learned. The response has been a full consultation with members and groups resulting in the root and branch reforms now being proposed for approval by the members at the online EGM this Saturday, 11 December, Diwrnod Cilmeri. The Gweithgor, being the properly constituted task force of the movement responsible for constitutional reform, has completed its task and is now seeking the democratic approval of the entire movement for its proposals.

The transformation of YesCymru to an incorporated not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee suitable for a growing mass-membership grass roots campaigning movement is supported by Dr Jones. He is familiar with the clear arguments in favour of this transition, as he states: “This would provide YC with a legal and regulatory framework that will help guard its members interests, while also limiting the liability of those elected to its executive.”

To this can be added transparency, accountability, legal identity, continuity, good governance and the latest best practice across a range of policies. And limited liability for all YesCymru members.

Diversity

Instead, Dr Jones frames his opposition mainly as issues of democracy and diversity. His claim, which needs to be examined carefully, is that the proposals undo a change to the composition of the Central Committee in the 2021 YesCymru constitution that ensures that 50% of the members of the Central Committee must be female or non-binary, and at least one member must be from a Black or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.

However this provision can itself be criticised as it contains no clear mechanism for achieving the desired gender balance, diversity or equality on the committee, or whether it be a reserved seat quota, a candidate quota or voluntary quotas.

More importantly, Dr Jones fails to appreciate that the acronym BAME (Black, Asian, and/or Minority Ethnic) contained in the 2021 constitution is increasingly being rejected by those it seeks to label. Consider these statements in the recent article ‘Don’t call me BAME’ online here: “In truth it does more harm than good.”

“I mean, it was a white term, if we’re being honest,” says Tosin Attah, 20, from Lagos, Nigeria. “White people made it so they don’t have to say ‘black’, because they feel weird saying black for some reason. I feel like BAME is just their safe word to not come off as racist.” What’s more, racial and other discrimination is a far more complex problem than the label BAME suggests as it excludes some of the most marginalised groups in our society.

It’s a pity Dr Jones resigned from the Gweithgor before it had the benefit of receiving independent legal advice. By virtue of his admirable and extensive public and community service he will appreciate the new YesCymru constitution will be not just the bespoke Articles of Association but also the comprehensive suite of byelaws which will be laid before the Board of Directors, (the new National Governing Body).

Byelaw 2.18 of the draft byelaws provides: All Regions electing Directors must encourage gender balance and a diverse slate of candidates. All Regions should aim to return at least one male and one female Director.

If members feel this needs to be changed in the future, the directors, or the members in a meeting by a simple majority vote, may do so as the provision is in the byelaws rather than the Articles of Association.

Dr Jones claims, quite erroneously, that the Gweithgor seeks to remove any reference to internationalism, to Europe, to inclusivity, to race, religion, ethnicity and gender from the constitution. I would respectfully refer him to Byelaw 1 containing the Objects of the movement, it’s Mission, Vision, Values and supporting statements which, for the avoidance of doubt are set out in full below:

1. Mission: To achieve independence for Wales through non-partisan campaigning.

Vision: An independent Wales which is safe and welcoming to all.

Values: As an inclusive organisation we welcome all, however they identify themselves and will reach out across Wales to all of its citizens to achieve our mission.
2. YesCymru is a non-partisan campaigning organisation which has the aim of gaining independence for Cymru in order to improve the way the country is governed. YesCymru believes that Cymru would be better running its own affairs, as part of a wider European and international family of nations.
3. YesCymru trusts the people of Wales to make democratic decisions about the way an independent Cymru will be governed and does not prejudge what those decisions should be.
4. YesCymru believes in an inclusive citizenship, which embraces the fact that all who choose to make Cymru their home – regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or preferred language – will be full citizens of the new Cymru.

Move forward

It is widely accepted the 2021 constitution is no longer fit for the purpose. Simply electing a new Central Committee will only put YesCymru back in the same position it was in following the last ill-fated AGM, with none of the benefits Dr Jones mentions in his opinion piece.

The way forward is to embrace change, change for the better, and be part of the future, and I would urge all members to vote YES, to vote in favour of the proposed reforms.

As Dr Jones says in his conclusion, “This would allow us to finally close the door on this unedifying episode in YesCymru’s story, and move forward to build a new organisation, and a new nation, that represents the best of Wales.”


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Lolly Mountjoy
Lolly Mountjoy
5 months ago

Thank You Meic Patterson for your words today giving us clarity. Also thank you and other members of the Gweithgor for all the time you have spent over the months in bringing together all the proposals to form a positive way forward. I will be voting for this as to revert to the old way will not be moving forward and that is what we have to do as an organisation.

Steve Lake
Steve Lake
5 months ago

Well said! We need clarity and structure to ensure our growing movement is fit for purpose.

Arwyn
Arwyn
5 months ago

Clywch, clywch. Amser symud ymlaen.

Andrew Murphy
Andrew Murphy
5 months ago

A personal view. The Gweithgor  was established by the Central committee at the last sitting  of the National Council and consists of representatives from the constituted groups under YC’s current constitution,38 in total all of whom were invited to attend.  Of the 38 groups 32 sent delegates, 25 of which have consistently taken part in work streams, plenary sessions and voting.  Six groups have remained within the Gweithgor  receiving all emails proposals and voting records. Only one has withdrawn from the process. The Gweithgor delegates come from groups who supported the VONC, groups opposed the VONC and groups who abstained. It is reflective of… Read more »

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
5 months ago

I’m voting YES!!!

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas
5 months ago

Diolch Meic, fel cyd-aelod o’r Gweithgor alla i ddim cytuno mwy. Dyma’r cyfle ola’ sydd gan YesCymru i roi’n gorffenol anodd tu ol i ni. Mae’r dogfennau y mae’r Gweithgor yn eu cynnig i’r aelodaeth ben ac ysgwydd uwchlawl yr hyn sydd yn bodoli ar hyn o bryd. Rhaid oedd rhoi cyfansoddiad mewn lle fyddai’n sichrhau dyfodol y mudiad am flynyddoedd i ddod, gan ganiatáu i’r aelodaeth dyfu ar yr un raddfa ac a welwyd yn ddiweddar. Mae pob un o aelodau’r Gweithgor wedi trafod a chymodi wrth lunio’r dogfennau, gan roi ystyriaeth fanwl i’r holl gynigion a ddaeth i… Read more »

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
5 months ago

Bring on the scrutiny and discussion of the proposed constitutional changes – certainly.

But let’s remember we are all different and have different priorities, values, concerns and styles.

So let’s live and let live. And cut out any personal attacks and abuse.

Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins
5 months ago

Diolch yn Fawr Meic! I’m very grateful for this rational & clear exposition. YC members should vote in favour & allow us to get back to doing what we do best. Joining together, to drive, as one, our path to independence. We have to be totally inclusive of ALL! This will ensure we are but not at one sections expense.

defaid
defaid
5 months ago

I imagine the message has got through by now but just in case…

From YC’s website:

“Online voting will be open from 8am on December 10th and will close during the EGM on December 11th so don’t worry if you can’t make it to the event you can still vote on the proposals.”

So you can vote on Friday and still attend at Cilmeri on Saturday 🙂

Last edited 5 months ago by defaid
Grayham Jones
5 months ago

Just get fighting for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 a Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and don’t get involved with British politics and start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh

Argol Fawr
Argol Fawr
5 months ago

Just move on from the image of a passionate school club into a movement the majority, non interested street folk from wherever, living in Wales, will recognise as a better choice.

Last edited 5 months ago by Argol Fawr
j humphrys
j humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Argol Fawr

You got it right, diolch!

Ian Hunter
Ian Hunter
5 months ago

It’s very gratifying to see the support Meic’s well-argued piece has prompted. With no disrepect to the people who spent a long time drafting YesCymru’s original constitution, it has now lost its usefulness. The new structure can be developed if experience shows both the new National Governing Body and the Members of YesCymru Cyf, that tweaks and tuning are needed. But surely, having spent best part of a year restructuring our organisation we are not going to spend another twelve months navel gazing while our organisation haemhorrages members who are rightly looking for the pathway to Annibyniaeth – not starting… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago

Lets vote to adapt the 4 points and get the show on the road as soon as possible.
YesCymru job is to unite all of Wales to get independence both economic and political.

Other politics should be left to Plaid Cymru, Gwlad and all future post independence parties that will and must be formed to build a new Wales.

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