This has been an interesting fortnight for those of us who take an interest in Welsh politics. Well, it’s been getting increasingly interesting since June but the past couple of weeks have seen a shift of some sort. For me, this started with the Plaid Cymru autumn conference when Leanne Wood, a leader who stands apart from the main body of scared vote grabbing politicians (who compromise their integrity in their quest for power at any cost), incorporated this appeal for tolerance and compassion into her speech.
(Apologies for Telegraph link)
I make no apologies for the fact that her speech made me teary but I really could not have been prouder than to have Leanne leading us that day – a person who is kind enough, strong enough and principled enough to withstand the ugliness surrounding the whole post-Brexit narrative. Far better than having my and other members’ support though is the fact that her words have given rise to some interesting conversations over the past fortnight and with that, an acknowledgment that these sentiments spoke to many, not just the party faithful, and that there is a great longing in Wales for this kind of reassurance.
People now ask me about Plaid Cymru and appear to take a greater interest in what the party represents. It’s no longer viewed through the skewed lens of the cynic who believes it to be a party for a Welsh speaking few but rather, and under Leanne’s leadership, is more broadly recognised as a hard working party of inclusion, equality and fairness. As all around, from UKIP through to the Labour party, politicians lose their heads and minds, Plaid Cymru stay on message and remind us that there is a better world available to those of us who choose it.
Beyond that, but not excluding it, her message of a fairer, kinder Wales, and our desire for it, is starting to resonate as highlighted in part by two polls run last week, one in WalesOnLine and another courtesy of UK Elections, both of which demonstrated exciting results which might, at last, show that the dragon is rising from its slumber.
I’m not getting silly excited about these polls but it has to be said that they are indicative of a change of outlook. It’s not so long ago that I’d hear people say ‘Silly Welsh Nat. Only 3% of people agree with you’ and my responses would fall on laughing ears. Nowadays there is less ridicule and more genuine interest. I broach the subject whenever the opportunity arises because the more it’s spoken about, the more normalised the idea of Welsh independence will become, and now that Plaid Cymru have recommitted to it as a part of their constitution, it has become current. When these polls are compared with those of a year or two past, the difference in result is startling.
Brexit has changed the United Kingdom and has made it a most unpleasant place to live. The right wing rhetoric, especially that of the further right who whip their band of supporters into a tribal spirit of hatred, punishment and violence is unpalatable to me and, I believe, to most others too. This is certainly true in Wales where our socialism has always been greater than our right wing leanings, and yet here we are being manipulated by a punitive Tory government and a malicious right wing Anglocentric media. When we live in a UK where such vile misreporting is unchallenged and when the government of the day chooses not to condemn it, here lies the evidence that we are living within a venomous culture, one where toxicity undoubtedly threatens our social cohesion.
There is a way out of this darkness and it involves a leap of faith and a huge amount of confidence. Wales can do better than this. We deserve better than this. We are not right wing Tories and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be influenced by the narrative that surrounds us from the largely English and xenophobic gutter press.
We are Wales. We are small, we are strong. We have withstood years of English rule and still retained our national pride and identity. We need to dig deep right now and muster up even greater strength if we are to hold onto our core principles of socialism and equality. Would you let Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru lead the way? In a world that’s losing its mind, theirs is the voice of reason. We are all better than this and I want to live, and have my children live, in a country which knows it.
Nothing irritates me more than listening to the likes of the hapless Andrew RT Davies criticising Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru. He and people like him are willing to sacrifice us all at the altar of Westminster rule. Last week he gained himself some more tedious column inches with his declaration that being a proud Brit didn’t stop him being a proud Welshman. However, with that what he did was draw his line in the sands of politics and make an unecessary observation – one which you will never hear discussed by Plaid Cymru. I suspect that his aim was to let us all know that he and his party of fools in Cardiff Bay are as Welsh as Plaid are. Plaid Cymru, meanwhile, never tell anybody that they are more ( or less) Welsh than anybody else. Theirs is a civic pride, not a competition for who has the more Celtic genes. This Tory obsession with heritage is what got us into this god awful mess and Andrew RT Davies’ response showed a great ignorance. He scored no points with that rubbish and if he thinks his reasoning ( or lack of) will resonate with Plaid Cymru, he is fighting a non existent battle.
I disagree with RT on many, if not all, levels and believe that no proud person with self belief and talent would ever allow their neighbor to run their affairs while doling out cash like pocket money but again, that’s about self respect and pride, not heritage. Similarly, wanting to distance myself and Wales from the punishing negatives currently being espoused from London is also about self respect. These people speak neither to me or for me.
This isn’t about our past, it’s abour our future. It’s about seeing a better way to live our lives, a life that I know will never be wholly satisfactory when the likes of Theresa May and the Daily Mail lay down the societal rules.
Nowadays when people tell me that Wales is too poor to be independent, I remind them that we are already poor under the Union, and while we may never reach a top ten comparison table of world wealth, at least an independent Wales will never be the cruel, punishing, nasty, intolerant place that it is currently viewed as within a wider UK framework.
I’m not IndyCurious; I’m IndyCommitted. Many people are now starting on this same journey – are you one of them?