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Politics of division – 14.07.23

Here in Wales we have the knack of being our own worst enemies. We have long been masters of internecine conflict, of criticising each other, of the politics of envy when someone succeeds locally.

We can argue that this is an outcome of big neighbour dominance. Challenging the biggest person on the playground is too hard and we no longer have the confidence to step up and do so. Centuries of cultural oppression and economic domination will inevitably beat you down and impact on all aspects of people’s lives, individually and collectively, in a myriad unseen and unrealised ways.

No one needs to divide and conquer in Wales as we will do it to ourselves…

This expresses itself as an inability to come together and stand shoulder to shoulder even on issues where there is broad agreement. It makes us by nature polarised and partisan, it militates against a united front, it prevents us from making progress, it holds us back. It is the easy road to blame ourselves and each other, to make excuses based on our history, to avoid responsibility for our own actions by disempowering ourselves.

This is not good enough. These excuses are nothing more than nails to build a house of failure. Time to set such childish things aside and work for success, with confidence and maturity.

We’ve seen a microcosm of this folly within the independence movement recently, with a small number of organisations objecting to the inclusion of a centre-right pro-independence party in the Yes Cymru conference that was held in June. One of the guilty parties involved is a nominally apolitical single issue campaign group which will have centre-right members in its ranks, what does it say to these members?

Extrapolating current polling data in Wales suggests that up to a million people are now broadly in favour of Independence.

Pointless posturing, pandering to a few dozen ill-informed individuals, is reductive when the time has come for the Independence movement in Wales to be expansive. We must appeal to the length and breadth of Wales. We must have the ambition of bringing 60%, 70% of the population to a belief in the strength, viability and success of Wales as an Independent democratic nation on the global stage.

You don’t do this by cancelling yourselves or attempting to cancel others because you have a distaste for their politics. Yes Cymru is an umbrella organisation that welcomes all supporters of independence – regardless of their political (or lack of) persuasions. 

No more of this. Time to grow up. Time to look up. No more navel gazing and talking to ourselves in a tiny circle of exclusion, redolent with echo chamber narcissism.

We must address the millions in Wales who will decide the future of our nation. It is they who will take us to Independence and, when we get there, it is they who will decide what shape that Independence takes. It most certainly won’t be a few dozen dogmatic, naive and narrow minded individuals with a grudge and an iron belief that their way is the only way.

Have the courage of your own convictions, yes. Express that courage by being ready and willing to defend these through debate and argument in an open, public forum.

We must ask ourselves whether it is more important to attack other groups campaigning for Welsh Independence or to actually campaign for Independence. It is time to get on board or get out of the way.

Written by YesCymru CEO, Gwern Gwynfil. Another version of this article was published by Nation Cymru on 8thJune 2023. 

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  • Simon Hobson
    commented 2023-08-16 11:40:32 +0100
    A nation state – a political unit bound together by a communities commonality of language and culture – does not need to be a nationalistic state. But it must be patriotic. There is a difference. Best expressed by Charles de Gaulle, “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first”.
    The later is driven by fear and ignorance of the ‘other’ – cynically used by politicians with their own self-serving agenda. The former speaks of self belief and a vision of a different future. Yes Cymru exists to bring people together. People who want Wales to be put first. Independence – it is about putting you and your future first.
  • Ian Hunter
    commented 2023-08-13 10:23:07 +0100
    Organisations objecting to any political parties sharing YesCymru events are sticking to YC’s principles. It is revealing that Gwynfil describes them as ‘guilty parties’ – no doubt because they are treading on his own politics. Either YC remains politically neutral or it runs a strong risk of being seen to favour nationalist views. There are many committed and uncommitted citizens of Cymru who can be persuaded to vote for independence but not against this background when the CEO of YesCymru leads a politically biased charge.
    Ian Hunter