Tuesday 20 March 2007

Creating our Own Agenda

In an earlier post on this site Johnny Roberts makes the important point that Independence needs to be put on the political agenda. He is, of course, totally correct.

One of the things that have amazed me in recent years is how the percentage of people who support independence has risen without the issue being on the agenda. Before the 1997 devolution referendum a BBC poll found that 11% of the people of Wales supported independence. The Richard Report found that in 2003 14% supported independence and another BBC poll commissioned in January of this year found that the figure had risen to 20%. One cannot but wonder what the figures might be like if independence had been a central issue on the Welsh political agenda during the past 10 years.

Johnny, in his article, suggests that Plaid should put independence firmly on the agenda - I agree with him entirely, but somehow I doubt that this will happen in the short term. Saying so isn't intended as a criticism of Plaid it is just a reflection of current political reality. With so much to say about "bread and butter issues" during the forthcoming assembly elections such as health, education and public order it would be political suicide for any party to try to veer away from that agenda and create a "new" agenda.

In our days political parties are rarely responsible for forcing any issue onto the political agenda. Focus groups decide the agenda and pressure groups influence the focus groups. The fact that all four parties are trying to out green each other in the present election campaign has nothing to do with capitalist, socialist, liberal or nationalist philosophies, it is due entirely to the fact that green campaigners have focused the minds of the electorate onto green issues.

The only way for independence to be put on the political agenda in Wales is for those of us who support independence to form a non-party campaign group to raise awareness of the benefits of independence.

It won't be an easy task. Many similar attempts have been hijacked by what I can only describe as the "nutty" side of nationalism. Staunch Plaid members may see forming such a group as an attack on Plaid. Supporters of independence in other parties (and there are many) may see it as an attempt to promote Plaid. Many nationalists expend all their campaigning energies in other groups CyIG, CND, Greenpeace etc.

Such people may see a Campaign for Independence as one campaign too far. However I sincerely believe that a Campaign for Independence is the only realistic way of putting independence on the agenda, and I would appreciate views from readers of this blog about how we can make such a campaign a reality.

14 comments:

Penddu said...

We need to create a 'Wales-First' type grouping similar to the Scottish group. A multi-party grouping which can campaign for independence while letting the established parties concentrate on their bara & menyn.

To maximise their impact, the group should campaign firstly for a parliament, before turning their attention to full independence. This will allow some nervous parliament supporters to step off before the final leg of the journey, but will also develop a winning team who will have gained first hand experience of a succesful parliament campiagn.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

I disagree; Penddu, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have already put a Scottish type parliament for Wales on the agenda with support from some members of the Conservative and Labour parties. What Wales needs is a Campaign for Independence to put the argument for independence on the agenda rather than the half way house of the evolution of devolution

I believe that Wales should be independent. I will not be satisfied by any "settlement" that offers less than that. I will, of course, accept any step in the right direction such as a Scottish type parliament with half gratitude, but it won't be enough for me. I think that campaigning for devolution or federalism when what you really want is independence is duplicitous and dishonest. If we believe in independence we should form a Campaign for Independence

sanddef said...

Dafydd Iwan already suggested a "Wales-First" type idea when addressing the Ta Ta Tory rally by Cymdeithas yr Iaith back in 1996. Rhodri Morgan was there (unless my memory's playing up) -all nods and smiles- but as soon as Labour were in government any serious consideration to cross-party co-operation was ditched. The fact that Labour opted in 2003 with a so-called "majority" of only 1 seat and the subsequent return to a minority government only serves to heighten how politically unflexable Welsh Labour is. But I digress. Plaid Cymru is the only party in Wales whose representatives are free to support independence without finding themselves out in the cold.

Penddu said...

Alwyn,

I agree with your goal - but I personally belive that we need to build up to it - remember that Scotland have had their practice Parliament for the last 8 years, while we have only had a toy version to play with.

My worry about having a group fighting hard for indpendence now, is that it may get in the way of establishing an interim parliament, which I believe that we will need first.

But I will fully support an Independence Now campaign, as we have waited long enough.

Lenin Cymru said...

Dear All,

I need your help on Wikipedia. I have started an entry about Welsh Independence but I need people to add info to it. Please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_Independence

Lenin Cymru said...

By the way, I disagree with Penddu and agree with alwyn ap huw. We need a pro-independence group. It was in the 1950's that a Parliament for Wales campaign started. We don't want to go back there. We need to push the agenda forward. I will help launch this group if needs be.

Penddu said...

Just a thought...

National Alliance for a Welsh Republic - NAWR

Wales Now - Cymru Nawr

???

Martin Eaglestone said...

But we all need to know who the "nutty" ones are so we can isolate them, and make sure they don't infiltrate the braod church. Names please !!

Alwyn ap Huw said...

As you well know, Martin, there are members of the Labour party who have nothing to add to the political debate in Wales, they just sit on the sidelines making stupid and irrelevant comments - the "nutty" side of the Labour Party. There are one or two similar people who support the national cause. I don't believe that it is right to "name and shame" such individuals - there is little point in doing so they tend to make themselves known!

Martin Eaglestone said...

Chicken !

Independence4Celts said...

Please follow link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ASj84C9yX4

stefan larder said...

Before considering pushing for independance politically it is important to create a desire amongst the welsh people (including those who consider themselves english). When I speak of independence I am usually met by a general consensus of 'we don't care.' Nothing can be done untill this is changed. Agitation is needed to create a grass roots movement. Mobilisation of the masses is the only way to create an independence movement. Today's politicians will jump at independence if they think it's popular. They'll even probably pass it off as their own burning ambition. We need to start holding open nights in pubs and colleges, lecturing on the benefits, creating publicity and rallying the masses. It may sound cynical but the best places for this are areas of economic discontent. If people are convinced that their standard of living may be improved they will support independence regardless of cultural motives. With no desire, there is no change.

A Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gethin 'Iestyn' Gruffydd said...

See SOFRANIAETH at http://sofraniaeth.blogspot.com
Enough Said, over to you and out!
'Sofraniaeth'is just some stimulation towards action speaking louder than words but I have been reading some other good ideas on your blog,worth considering too. At minimum get out of blog world and gather to D&D on 21 - 06 - 08 at Machynlleth? then decide what to do and which way to go. Choose the best of all contributions,then get on with it. Just Do It - Not only Talk About It! The matter of sovereignty should be above all squabbling Political pettiness, so maybe it is making SOVEREIGNTY a big issue as a practical platform from which to move Welsh Independence forward.

G.Gruffydd.