What is an independent Wales for?

April 5, 2017

By Sandra Clubb - Wales

If I’m honest, I’ve been one political crisis away from rebellion for a while now. I may like to chalk all of this indytalk down to the whole ‘leaving the EU without so much as a plan on the back of a fag packet’ malarky, but really, it started a long time before that.

And it doesn’t even have that much to do with Wales. Not by necessity.

A wise friend asked me several months ago, why I want independence for Wales. Is independence the end? He asked. Or the means?

Both, I replied. Definitely both.

I have thought about this question a lot since. What does this really mean? I have come to the conclusion that it means everything.

I emphatically believe that we need to change course. Take this at whatever scale you like, but whether that scale is the UK, or Western capitalist countries, the global economy or Wales, things are screwed up and they need to change.

Our economy doesn’t work for people. It is destroying the planet. We are pitted against each other in desperate competition for jobs that destroy our souls and keep us from our families for ridiculously long hours, all on the promise that it will help us buy more, and make us happier. For jobs that are disappearing, or based on zero hours contracts, or that don’t pay enough to live on.

In the process we are succumbing to mental illness in epidemic proportions. We have accepted the doctrine of free market economics and allowed it to privatise our lives. Loneliness is the new obesity. The mainstream media, speaking from the pocket of corporations and billionaires, instructs us to batten down the hatches and worship at the shrine of individualism.

The irony is that none of us see the profits from any of this, but we all pay the price.

These are the real reasons that Wales voted for Brexit. And if we don’t address them, it will all be for nought.

Instead of protesting in our thousands against the injustices of a system pitted against the many in favour of the few, we are instead slaves to Netflix.

We have forgotten how to connect. We have forgotten how to organise. How to protest.

Really protest. The kind of protest that isn’t just placard waving, but that shows up armed with genuine alternatives, with radical ideas.

We have forgotten how to rebel. And in the absence of any tangible, credible alternative outlay for their anger and despair, many people in Wales voted for Brexit because at least it felt like a way to register that they have had enough.

And those of us who voted remain? We may march in the streets now, but we didn’t do it when it might have made a difference. We may be able to list a hundred and one things we will miss about European Union membership, but are we willing to call out the problems with our global economic system, that it seems the EU may accidentally have taken the fall for?

Because much as I would rather have stayed in the EU, and much as I think that many aspects of our lives are going to be the worse for leaving, perhaps now we will finally have a conversation about whether the current allocation of wealth and power is working out for most of us.

Because it is pretty fucked up that the richest 1% of people on our planet own more than the other 99%. When are we going to talk about that?

None of this knowledge is new. My heart has been breaking over all of this for a long time. I have tried to keep up a pretence of normality. Gone about a normal job. Raised my children. Made do with bits of activism when I could, community projects, the odd petition. I have rebelled in my own way. My refusal to own a television has finally stopped raising eyebrows.

But I couldn’t shake off this feeling. This feeling that there is something else. That if the stakes are high enough, and there are people with sufficient determination, then rebellion is possible. That if there is a vision clear enough, and inspiring enough, to rally around, then we can make change happen.

That maybe we can actually change the system.

Well, guess what. All of those conditions now apply.

Welcome to #indycymru.

Because all we really need for rebellion is a place to start, and it turns out that there are lots of places.

When we look for these starting places, the smallest common denominator is the scale of a community. And a community can be anything, it can be me, you, and your mate Fran, if we all share an interest in common and are willing to connect.

And now of course, connecting is easy, because I am here, and so are you, and we have the power to reach practically anyone anywhere.

As well as to simply talk to those around us.

So what is new?


You know, and I know, that we are at a crossroads. Define it how you like, on the basis of whatever parameters you like (environment, economy, equality, humanity) we are going one of two ways from here.

These directions are called ‘better’ or ‘worse’.

Which one are you going to pick?

It’s important to acknowledge at this point, that the cavalry is not coming. Politicians are not going to fix this, they have (with notable exceptions) thrown themselves in with the problem, or are waiting for someone else to make the first move.

So guess what.

The machinations of formal democracy are not going to fix this, because democracy has been kidnapped and is currently tied, bound and gagged to a chair, by the oligarchy owned press.

We could be forgiven for thinking after all, that the Daily Mail writes Theresa May’s speeches (when you consider that Rupert Murdoch practically lives at Number 10, I heard he keeps a pair of slippers there, the kitchen tiles are notoriously cold).

How do you think that austerity has gone on so long, despite the fact that it is quite literally killing people, in order to make rich people richer?

So given that no one else is going to fix this, we are going to have to.

And we are in Wales.

There are a lot of very special things about Wales. I could list them, but I’m not going to. Because the most important thing about Wales is that it is no more or less special than anywhere else. We don’t have any special right to self determination compared to other countries, but then nor do we have any less.

We don’t have any special imperative to solve any of these massive problems either (problems like an economy that doesn’t work, or loss of biodiversity on a mass-extinction level).

No more imperative than anywhere else, and no less.

There are people in Wales who live in poverty. There are people in Wales who are lonely. There are people in Wales whose community has been ripped apart and who are left with little material wealth and precious little hope.

This is also true of many people in other places.

It is true of people in Merseyside. It is true of people in East Kilbride. It is true of many people all over the world.

But we don’t live in those places, you and I (well maybe you do, if you are reading this internationally, hello).

We live in Wales.

And so this is where we can start.

Because when I imagine an independent Wales, it’s not a destination. It’s not something that I want to happen overnight, or even next year or in three years. It’s a process.

The means are as important as the end, maybe more so.

Because along the way we are going to ask a lot of questions. Questions like, what kind of economy do we want in Wales? Who should the economy be for? Should it make people better off, healthier and happier, rather than just growing for its own sake? What price are we willing to pay for material goods? Are we willing to pay the price of birdsong, and butterflies? Are we willing to sacrifice happiness for stuff?

Would we rather work less, consume less, but have more fun? Shall we consider a universal basic income for people in Wales so that no one falls below a minimum standard of living, and people are freed from meaningless dreary work that doesn’t pay the bills?

Will we discover along the way how many artists, musicians and writers have never used their talents because they are stacking shelves at Tesco or queuing to sign-on?

Starting to have the debate about whether Wales should or could be independent is going to bust open a whole load of conversations, and that’s going to be incredibly good for our democracy, and our self esteem, and also for our media.

Yesterday, there was an #indymedia fringe event in Cardiff, organised by YesCaerdydd. Its aim was to create a space for people to imagine and start to create an independent, #indyconfident media for Wales and to discuss projects that are already underway.

I wasn’t at the event, because one of the young citizens of a future independent Wales was throwing up in my care.

But if I had been there, one of the points I would have raised is this.

I don’t want an independent media in Wales just so that we have a platform to debate independence, although it’s unlikely that we will achieve independence without a strong thriving independent media, certainly.

There are other compelling reasons to want an independent media.

A new, independent media for Wales, free from the editorial dictat of billionaire media-moguls, will be able to speak the truth. It will be free to call out injustice. It will, if it is brave, be able to call into question some of the most basic assumptions that prop up the current, broken global economy.

And there is every reason to assume that those motivated enough to strive for an independent media will also be brave, independent of spirit, and radical at heart.

So if you think you might be curious about the alternatives, that you might have just a smidgen of interest in discussing something more radical than the ‘more of the same’ status quo, maybe you should hang out with some local indycurious types and chat about your vision for Wales.

If you aren’t sure if you know any indycurious people, there are ways you can spot them. They usually ask a lot of questions, they won’t take any bullshit about Wales not being good enough, and they may well have a habit of saying Wrexham when they mean Wrexham (rather than North Wales).

Or they may do none of those things, but you won’t find them if you don’t look.

But watch out because once you do start finding each other, soon you won’t be able to move for indycurious types and you’ll have to start hanging out in bigger pubs.

A lot bigger.

And not long after that, you’ll find that you look back nostalgically at the days when you were indycurious, and that you feel pretty indyconfident. And you’ll know when that happens because you will be surrounded by people who feel that way too, and you will know that you are on a roll. It will be exciting, and things that once felt improbable, will feel likely.

So go on, what are you waiting for?

Because it’s your future, and mine, and all of ours. And I want the birdsong, and the butterflies, and the meaningful job with the work life balance and the thriving local economy that hasn’t been bulldozed to make way for an out of town shopping centre.

And I want my children to grow up in a world that values connection and compassion.

To be able to live in the moment.

To be who they are, and value other people.

If we want to change the world, no one can stop us.

Let’s start in Wales.


To be part of the rebellion, join YesCymru.

You can get involved with rebellious antics as part of YesCaerdydd. We are on Twitter and Facebook @yescaerdydd, get in touch.

There may be a branch of YesCymru rebels more local to you, or if not you could start one…

All you need is the desire for change (and beer helps – YesCaerdydd can next be found upstairs in the Tiny Rebel, Westgate Street, 8pm on Thursday the 27th April).

You can Follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at indymam.wordpress.com

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