On Sunday, January 3 2020, a letter was published in the Powys County Times labelling Welsh Independence as a “Step too far”, which had mixed reviews.
In this letter, written by Bruce Lawson of Montgomery, the author highlighted the need for renewed international relationships in a post-Brexit Britain.
It cannot be disputed that good relations in the international field is imperative for the survival of Welsh trade, but neither can the rapid increase in support of dissolving the asymmetric union, in all four nations of this “United” Kingdom.
In this response, it is my intention to respectively debunk some of the myths brought up in the letter itself and in some of the reviews and reactions.
There is no doubt that it is the will of the Scottish to leave this union in favour of an independent republic within the EU Signal Market.
Similarly, in England, YouGov polls suggest the support for independent is around 38 per cent, increasing up to 48 per cent in those aged over 65.
Irish Unity hit 35 per cent in favour with 34 per cent preferring to remain a part of the UK.
Here in Wales, 33 per cent said they would say yes to an Independent Wales if there was a referendum tomorrow.
Similarly, membership of YesCymru has soared to over 16,500.
This figure makes the non-party political campaign the second largest political group in Wales after Welsh Labour.
On the topic of Welsh Labour, Labour4indyWales released figures state that 48-51 per cent of Welsh Labour members support an ‘indyWales’.
In fact, Welsh Labour members from all over mid and west Wales have even elected their first openly pro-independence candidate, Ben Gwalchmai to run as a regional candidate in the democratically superior Senedd elections next May.
All these figures are the highest polling to date in Wales and reflect the changing mood towards Westminster rule with support highest amongst the young.
We must take into account that all these figures are before any full-scale referendum campaigning.
On the topic on independence, there were many comments made about the economic stability of Wales of it were an independent nation.
Wales exports twice as much energy as it needs and we have a higher GDP than 130 other independent nations.
We have a higher GDP than Croatia and Spain, and they’re more than twice our size.
Small, independent nations can prosper, and many of the unionist argument made against an independent future are similar to those targeted towards Malta before they gained independence back in 1964.
An editorial in the Times in 1959 stated that Malta could not “live of its own” and their economy would “collapse”.
Malta, nor any other country that has gained independence from Westminster have asked to re-join.
The Tax Justice Network studies if 2019 showed that London extracts wealth from Wales and all the peripheries of the UK.
Westminster holds Wales back, prohibiting huge energy project such as the Swansea Tidal Lagoon.
Wales has one of the best global track records for environmentalism and recycling, allowing us to prosper into a greener, prosperous future.
Combatting climate change was something briefly mentioned in the letter, yet I cannot see how staying apart of this union would allow Wales to substantially do this.
There’s a misconception that Independence across the four nations would be bad for cross-nation relationships, but this not true.
If we were all independent nations, we could work together, and not be controlled by one dominating contender.
In this union, there is no doubting that England dominates. I previously referred to the Senedd elections as democratically superior but this is because on a UK-wide scale, whatever England wants, England gets.
Ever since universal suffrage, Wales has never voted a Tory/Conservative majority, yet we are always subjected to the English vote, as are the other Celtic nations.
Our First Minister, Mark Drakeford recently expressed his disappointment at the decreasing significance of the Welsh voice in Westminster.
We can’t forget his announcement of the lack of communication between the Welsh and UK Parliaments during the first peak of Covid-19.
In addition to this, Wales is set to lose eight MPs in Westminster by 2023 after the Parliamentary Act Commission was given Royal Assent.
This will lower our number of representatives from a mere 40 to a dismal 32, which is less than we had back in 1965 when English MPs overpowered the Welsh to drown Capel Celyn.
How can we “stand together” as described in the letter, if others choose to stand over us?
The nations of this union deserve an equal say, and not to be treated like second class citizens.
But, as long as we are in this union, it will always be England centred.
The railways are a metaphor for this, as they all lead into England.
The Westminster Conservatives refuse to give Wales its legal share of rail investment under the Barnett Formula, labelling HS2 as an England-And-Wales project.
Not a single piece of HS2 track will be laid in Wales, but our MP, Craig Williams, recently told me that he believes that this English/Scottish rail line will benefit Wales, somehow.Our Montgomeryshire MP who voted against free school meals for English children, despite the Country Times reporting that nearly a third of children in Powys live in poverty.
Luckily, this was provided in Wales through reallocation of funding by the Welsh Government; although more can be done, but as long as we are tied to a Government who limits our borrowing limits, whilst underfunding services;
The Senedd can’t give all the support that is necessary to improve the lives of those living in poverty in Wales. I want to live in a country that proudly takes care of citizens from cradle to grave, and this includes the increasing number of people that are living in poverty.
The author mentions the fact the UK will no longer be subject to “approval” of the 27 EU Nations, but more or less, Westminster controls what we do here in our nation, and even more so with the power grabbing Internal Market Bill.
In their letter, the author described the Senedd as “too expensive”.
Many say that the £18b is the cost of the Senedd, but it is the budget, compared to the £720b yearly expenditure of Westminster. We get two per cent of this, despite having five per cent of the population.
Devolution is cheaper than Westminster and the unelected House of Lords alone is one the most expensive Houses of Parliament in the world.
I support devolution, but can still recognise the mistakes that they too have done during this pandemic, but whenever Westminster make mistakes, there aren’t calls to abolish it.
So why do people feel that a mistake qualifies the Welsh Parliament for abolishment? Do people see Welsh democracy as disposable?
The YesCymru movement is not an anti-English campaign, it is campaign for an ‘indyWales’, away from the archaic shackles of Westminster. I believe in a better future for Wales.
David Leah, co-chair of YesCymru Llanfair Caereinion