[WSMDiscuss] In Wales, interest in independence simmers ahead of polls

francine mestrum mestrum at skynet.be
Thu Apr 1 23:00:59 CEST 2021

As if a Welsh independance movement were synonymous with a 'Celtic 
revival'! On aura tout vu, as they say in French.


On 01/04/2021 20:53, Jai Sen wrote:
> Thursday, April 1, 2021
> *Britain in movement… ?, Wales in movement… ?, **Peoples in movement…, 
> **Sovereignty in movement…*
> [Reading this, it’s interesting to think back a few days when a writer 
> on WSMDiscuss questioned the seriousness of an assertion made by 
> someone from Ecuador – that along with rise of Indigenous Peoples and 
> Indigenous consciousness on Abya Yala, the Celts in Europe are also 
> rising…
> [The recent rise of the Scottish independence movement has been 
> impossible to miss.  But is what this article says, about Wales, also 
> happening ?  (Or is this fake news, or just fishing news ?)  Comments, 
> anyone, and especially from of course anyone from Wales ?  Or other 
> parts of Britain ? :
> *In Wales, interest in independence simmers ahead of polls***
> More are warming to Welsh independence after witnessing Westminster’s 
> management of Brexit and the COVID crisis
> Chris Kelsey <https://www.aljazeera.com/author/chris-kelsey>
> https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/1/in-wales-fervour-grows-for-independence-from-the-uk 
> <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/1/in-wales-fervour-grows-for-independence-from-the-uk>
> Welsh flags are seen at a closed holiday park in Towyn as the spread 
> of COVID continues [File: Carl Recine/Reuters]
> *Cardiff, Wales –* Something is stirring in Wales.
> This second-smallest of the four nations that make up the United 
> Kingdom, with a population of three million, has for years trailed 
> behind Scotland in its demands for independence.
>   * UK could become ‘failed state’ without reform, former PM warns
>     <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/25/uk-could-become-a-failed-state-without-reform-former-pm-warns>
>   * UK: Is Scotland on course to leave Britain?
>     <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/19/uk-is-scotland-on-course-to-leave-britain>
>   * Can Scotland become independent?
>     <https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2020/12/26/can-scotland-become-independent>
>   * In Northern Ireland, a ‘shift in enthusiasm’ for Irish unity
>     <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/9/irish-reunification-debate-looms-large-as-ni-nears-centenary>
> Now all that is changing.
> A little under two years ago, in May 2019, thousands of people marched 
> through the streets of Cardiff in support of Welsh independence. It 
> was the first in a series of rallies and marches in towns and cities 
> across the country over the following months.
> COVID-19 put a stop to the rallies. But it has not stopped the 
> interest in independence.
> At the beginning of 2020, Yes Cymru, the non-partisan campaign group 
> behind the rallies, had just 2,000 members. Today it has more than 18,000.
> In February, one opinion poll put support for independence at 39 
> percent. That was an outlier, with most polls showing support closer 
> to 25 percent. But even that is twice as high as it was six years ago.
> There is no doubt that more people support independence in Wales now 
> than at any time in recent history.
> So what is behind this change in mood?
> Progressively invaded and conquered by a succession of English 
> monarchs from the 11th century onwards, Wales was more thoroughly 
> integrated into its larger neighbour than Scotland or Ireland ever were.
> Its devolved government in Cardiff still has less power than its 
> counterpart in Edinburgh.
> Once an agricultural backwater, Wales’ population boomed during the 
> Industrial Revolution when its coal, iron and steel captured world 
> markets. But the decline of its heavy industries has seen Wales slip 
> to the bottom of the UK wealth table – and stay there, despite 30 
> years of devolution.
> Now its per capita GDP is only approximately a quarter that of 
> Ireland, and parts of Wales count as some of the poorest regions in 
> Europe.
> But it is recent events that have swelled the ranks of the 
> independence movement.
> Although a majority in Wales voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, 
> the chaotic handling of the UK’s departure from the EU has undermined 
> belief in a strong and stable Westminster government, according to 
> Roger Awan-Scully, professor at Cardiff University and chair of the 
> Political Studies Association of the UK.
> “That’s the period, 2018 to 2019, when you start to get this uptick in 
> support for independence,” he said.
> Then came COVID. With health devolved, the Welsh government was free 
> to impose its own lockdown rules.
> The pronouncements of the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford loomed 
> larger in the country than those of Boris Johnson – often to 
> Drakeford’s advantage.
> “The handling of the pandemic has very trenchantly exposed the 
> differences in policy choices between the governments of the UK,” 
> Laura McAllister, professor of public policy at Cardiff University’s 
> Wales Governance Centre, told Al Jazeera.
> “The Welsh and Scottish governments have had consistently higher 
> approval ratings from their nations than the UK Government. It’s 
> elevated the visibility and profile of the Welsh Government and first 
> minister.”
> Awan-Scully, referring to a scandal which saw Johnson’s top Downing 
> Street adviser Dominic Cummings accused of breaking the government’s 
> own lockdown rules, said: “Since Barnard Castle, people have 
> consistently said they evaluate the Welsh government’s handling much 
> higher than the UK government’s.”
> The first test of this new support for independence will come in May 
> when the people of Wales get a chance to vote for a new Welsh Government.
> The latest opinion polls indicate a three-horse race between the 
> ruling Labour party, the Conservatives and the pro-independence Plaid 
> Cymru, with a Labour government dependent on Plaid Cymru support seen 
> as the most likely outcome.
> Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price has responded to the growth in 
> separatist feeling by announcing a dramatic shift in the party’s 
> policy: if elected, a Plaid Cymru government would hold a referendum 
> on independence within its first term.
> Conservative ministers in London fear that if Labour returns to power 
> in Cardiff relying on Plaid Cymru votes, it will be forced into 
> holding an independence referendum, according to a report in The Times.
> First Minister Drakeford has maintained a difficult balancing act, on 
> the one hand describing the union as “fractured”, on the other saying 
> that he believes in the UK and that he would not hold an independence 
> referendum if elected, because there would not be a democratic mandate 
> for it.
> Labour’s own voters are split on the issue, with 51 percent in a 
> recent poll saying they supported independence, despite Labour being 
> officially a unionist party.
> Sion Jobbins, chair of Yes Cymru, said this was partly due to the 
> perceived rightward drift of Conservative governments since the Brexit 
> vote.
> “There’s a section of people on the left in Wales who feel the British 
> state they thought they knew is different now,” he said.
> “There’s also a constituency of Labour voters who feel they vote 
> Labour here in Wales and get a Tory (Conservative) government in London.”
> ____________________________
> Jai Sen
> Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of 
> International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University 
> of Ottawa
> jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>&jsen at uottawa.ca 
> <mailto:jsen at uottawa.ca>
> Now based in Ottawa, Canada,on unsurrendered Anishinaabe 
> territory(+1-613-282 2900) and in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325)
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