As England entrenches itself in the past, Welsh activists eye an independent future

Welsh independence supporters waving banners in front of a castle in Wales, YesCymru
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On Saturday 6 May, Charles Windsor became the latest monarch of Great Britain. While the world watched Britain squander the money we apparently don’t have on his bedazzling, activists in Wales looked to the future. On 20 May, they’ll hold another march for independence, and according to Naomi Hughes of campaign group YesCymru:

This is going to be a great march with outstanding speakers in the rally afterwards. The marches are a wonderful opportunity for those of us who have realised that Independence is the key to a better future for Wales and for the children of Wales, to come together and share our passion for our nation and to campaign for the freedom we need. I’m really looking forward to it!

A growing movement in Wales

All Under One Banner Cymru (AUOBCymru) and Yes Cymru are organising the march, which will include speakers such as Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts and writer Mike Parker. The Canary covered the march in 2022, with writer Tom Anderson noting:

Read on...

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At the beginning of October 10,000 people marched in central Cardiff calling for Welsh independence. Marches like the one on 1 October are becoming a more frequent occasion. An increase in support for an independent Wales went alongside the UK’s final exit from the European Union. …

In 2019, the year running up to 2020’s Brexit, people held at least three mass marches for Welsh independence. Over 5,000 people marched for independence through Merthyr Tydfil. In 2019, a majority of councillors in Gwynedd County Council in North Wales voted in support of independence. During the same year a YouGov survey of over a thousand people showed that 21% of respondents would support Welsh independence if there was a referendum.

The thousands that marched in Cardiff on 1 October show that the movement is still strong.

Anderson also quoted former leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood, who argued that a progressive independence for Wales is:

something that we all want. It’s something tangible and it’s doable, but it’s not going to just happen automatically. And I think there’s a danger of creating just a smaller version of the British state… and what would be the point of that? We have to build something that enables people to be better off than they are now. We have to build something that enables people’s lives to be tangibly improved. Otherwise, we’re wasting our time. So I think we have to think very carefully about the kind of independence movement we are, and the kind of Wales that we want to build. I don’t think we can divorce ourselves from other struggles like the climate crisis, and the cost of living crisis.

A ‘fantastic weekend’

Kat Watkins, one of the organisers from Swansea, said:

As a disabled member of YesAbertawe I felt it was important to get the voices and visibility of disabled people heard and seen. Making this march accessible and putting disabled people as the leaders of the march, has ensured that they will most certainly be seen and heard!

Speaking of the upcoming march, Hedd Gwynfor of AUOBCymru said:

We’re really looking forward to the independence march in Swansea. It’s an opportunity to show everyone in Wales and beyond that there’s a huge demand for independence across the whole country, north to south, and east to west. It’s extremely important that we build on the momentum from the marches last year – so join us in Swansea on the 20th of May, and make the most of what’s going to be a fantastic weekend.

All Under One Banner also operate in Scotland, with pro-independence marches taking place on the same day as the coronation:

In opposition to the positive expectations of the independence march, YesCymru pointed out what happened to activists at the coronation:

The police arresting republican protesters were making use of the extreme new powers granted to them by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act. The Canary has reported extensively on this legislation – Emily Apple wrote in 2022:

In March 2021, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill crashed into our lives. A mammoth and draconian piece of legislation, the bill attacks protesters, criminalises the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities, and entrenches racist policing strategies with measures such as Serious Violence Reduction Orders.

YesCymru: a different direction

Given the state of the UK, it’s not hard to see why Welsh people would want to walk a different path.The latest independence march will start at Swansea’s Wind Street at 1pm on 20 May, and will finish at the National Waterfront Museum Green where a rally will be held with a large stage and screen with speakers and music. Several fringe events will also be held over the weekend, along with the ‘Indy Market’ at the Waterfront from 10am to 4pm.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Llywelyn2000 (image cropped to 770 x 403)

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