The political landscape in Wales is shifting. With recent polling showing strong, consistent support for an independent Wales, the increasing number of those who could be described as ‘indy curious’ is also a significant development.
Devolution has undoubtedly enabled the Welsh government to sometimes be bolder and more forward-looking than its Westminster counterpart, the introduction of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act being one example. But the implementation so often fails to live up to the ambition. In many ways, devolution can be seen to have failed the people of Wales.
Wales deserves better
After 24 years of a Labour government, the levels of regional inequality in Wales are beyond unacceptable. We have the highest levels of deprivation in the UK, with one in three children living in poverty. The housing crisis is acute, impacting communities across the country. As winter approaches, we again see a vast proportion of the population facing fuel poverty. On the environmental front, the recent State of Nature report showed Wales to be one of the most nature-depleted nations on these islands.
And those gains that have been made under devolution are increasingly under threat by a centralising Westminster government intent on clawing back powers from the devolved nations. The post-Brexit power grab is most clearly seen in the Internal Markets Bill and the Shared Prosperity Fund, undermining any attempts to protect environmental standards and workers’ rights.
This shows a determination to override Welsh democracy. And we see no indication of things being any different under a future Keir Starmer government. Westminster is holding Wales back.
Independence is meaningless (without)
This is why the Wales Green Party believes that an independent Wales is vital for creating a fairer, greener society. We are proud to be part of the progressive movement in Wales working towards this goal.
As an internationalist party that believes in localism, we believe that independence is an important step towards devolving power to the smallest possible level and empowering communities across the country. An independence that simply shifts the Westminster power base to Cardiff Bay is not an independence that I would campaign for.
Equally important, the campaign for Welsh independence must be driven by the urgent need to build a truly equal and fair society. Independence is meaningless if people can’t afford safe, secure, and warm homes. Independence is meaningless without radical reform of institutionally racist public bodies. Independence is meaningless if society continues to tolerate transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, and all forms of bigotry.
As Greens, we know that independence is meaningless without climate justice, social justice, economic justice, and racial justice. Our vision is of an independent Wales working together with other nations, including our nearest neighbours, to build a truly equal and sustainable future.
A new kind of politics
This must be a nation committed to a zero carbon future, in control of its abundant sources of clean, renewable energy. An independent, diverse, welcoming, cosmopolitan nation committed to equality, free of the archaic rituals and undemocratic institutions of the tired British state that is failing on so many levels.
In the face of the multiple and challenging crises (climate, nature, equality) facing our communities, both locally and globally, there is an urgent need to build a new kind of politics. To create a true grassroots democracy in which those affected by these challenges are directly involved in decision-making processes at every level.
This could include local assemblies to help identify and debate local issues, citizens’ juries, and people’s assemblies to help with deliberative democracy. Democracy must be about more than simply having the right to vote every few years.
Independence will be an exciting opportunity for Wales to lead the way in creating a new people-led democracy fit for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Working together with other small independent nations, Wales could and should be part of the solutions needed to create a safer and fairer future for all.