Sunday 6 July 2008

Plaid’s ‘party within a party’ will argue case for Wales to become independent

Article from Western Mail, June 24 2008:

Plaid’s ‘party within a party’ will argue case for Wales to become independent

Jun 24 2008 by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

PLAID CYMRU has approved the launch of a new “party within a party” aimed at arguing the case for an independent Wales.

The Independence Initiative, which will be officially announced later in the summer, is the brainchild of Plaid MP Adam Price, who says it is essential that the party’s long-term aspiration is articulated for the benefit of a new generation.

Although the new group has been endorsed by Plaid’s national executive, some in the party’s hierarchy are likely to see it as an unwelcome distraction. Opinion polls consistently show support for Welsh independence hovering at little more than 10% of the population. Only last month a poll said only 25% of Plaid supporters favoured independence, with nearly twice as many preferring a Scottish-style Parliament with law-making powers.

But Mr Price said: “We need a forum within the party where we can debate our long-term constitutional aim. It’s difficult for the party leadership to focus on the goal of independence because it’s not seen as relevant to the current state of Wales’ political development.

“One day, however, the time will come when we do have to focus on that question, and we need to debate within the party what an independent Wales would look like.

“We also need to create a new generation of nationalists. The majority of people joining Plaid are enthused by a passion for Wales to become a full nation, an independent state. The Independence Initiative will provide a forum where ideas can be developed and articles published.

“There won’t be a separate membership, and of course people will be encouraged to take part in the wider activities of the party.

“The message we need to get across is that Wales is only being held back by a lack of self-confidence. Many younger people do have that confidence, and that is what we need to tap into.”

Mr Price said Wales could take inspiration from many small countries which had thrived because of decisions they had been able to take because they were independent: “Iceland, with the population of Cardiff, has achieved a very impressive economic growth rate of 10% thanks to an imaginative use of the tools and resources available to it.

“It has developed a lucrative tourism industry and is a world leader in ‘bioinfomatics’, using genetic memory to diagnose health conditions.”

The MP said that in the past, it was large nations that had driven economic progress because of their privileged access to overseas markets and their military might.

“In a world of global markets, that is no longer the case. Small countries have the opportunity to be more nimble than the lumbering giants. Often, when we from Wales visit successful small independent countries, we have mixed feelings of admiration and regret. Admiration because of what they have been able to achieve, and regret that we aren’t in the same position.

“Another reason small nations do very well is because they don’t tend to be riddled with the kind of class tensions that exist in bigger countries. There isn’t the same contrast between the very rich and the very poor but a greater sense of social cohesion, with people being more prepared to all pull together.

“I strongly believe that Wales has been held back. It’s possible to argue that we’ve been in economic decline as a nation for over 80 years, since the slump in the price of coal in 1924.

“Sometimes people use the argument that we’re too poor to be independent. Instead, we should turn the question round and ask why we are so poor, and what can we do about it. There’s nothing in our genes that makes us incapable of running our own affairs effectively, and I am convinced that if we had the economic tools available to us that come with independence, we could create a more prosperous, self-confident Wales.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here I am, an American who lives on the west coast of the US. So I can only give an outsider's point of view. This post was made way back in June, before Iceland found itself on the brink of bankruptcy. I think that bankruptcy turns the arguement that smaller countries are more nimble on its head. When the times get tough, it might be nice to have the backing of a big country. Such as the British government.

The United States was initially a confederation of 13 colonies which were established by different founding groups. Federalism has defined the powers of the states and the federal government. Indeed, our first party, the Federalists, dealt with that very question. Later, our Civil War crushed the South's assertion that it had the right to secede, although I think that had more to do with a need to obtain agreement by the national government to which those states had already voluntarily entered into union with.

Wales, perhaps, historically had no choice in its union with Britain. But, since it is inseparably a part of the island of Britain, its economy is also inseparable. Therefore, I would argue for some form of federalism with the London national government, if this is possible.

Yes, I am an outsider, but I have fully European ancestry, and a keen interest in Europe. I certainly wish the best for its people. I am horrified by Europe's past wars, and believe that democracy is truly the only way for humans to rise above their feudal past. Putting up walls between nations makes them poorer. Spreading Welsh culture throughout Britain and the world will make the world richer.