“Mae’n rhaid i ni ysgrifennu ein straeon ein hunain a bod yn asiantau newyddion ein hunain”
Mae Adam Price AS yn ysgrifennu ar gyfer ‘Wales Online’ am annibyniaeth a phŵer sgwrsio
Cyhoeddwyd yr erthygl hon yn ‘Wales Online’ ddydd Sadwrn 4 Chwefror 2023
“We must write our own stories and be our own agents of news”
It's been a week since the Melin Drafod independence summit in Swansea (Saturday 28 January 2023) and Adam Price MS, Leader of Plaid Cymru, exclusively writes for Wales Online about the power of a face-to-face chat, and the need to reach Welsh citizens not currently part of any national conversation
Standing on the picket line alongside members of the Royal College of Nursing earlier this month reaffirmed one thing for me – independence is the only route to real fairness for our workers. Even if Labour win the next UK election a few years of brief respite will be followed by a pendulum that will take us further to the right.
Yes, there is more, far more that our own Welsh Government can and should be doing to save our NHS and pay a decent wage to its workforce as we have argued this week. But when so much of the financial power still lies at Westminster the most powerful person in Wales will always be a Prime Minister and a Chancellor that do not even live here.
The general strike emerging across our public services shines a light on a vacuum in our democracy. Health and education are devolved – but where does the responsibility lie for the underfunding of our key public services and the workforce that delivers them? With the Welsh Government that runs them or the Westminster Government that largely finances them? The truth is both are to blame, but the game of political ping-pong between Labour and Tories has no winners. Certainly not the young family struggling to juggle the cost of childcare with rising bills, nor the striking public sector workers whose pay-packets have been shrinking for a decade and more.
That is why the timing of this weekend’s Melin Drafod independence summit could not be more critical, and why the inspiring line-up of speakers fills me with hope about Wales’s future.
This conference represents a confluence of ideas and individuals whose common ground is the common good – but one of the things at the heart of our debate will be how do we reach the people outside the conference hall. The fellow Welsh citizens not currently part of any national conversation.
Making the case successfully to them that independence is the way to achieve a better life is hampered by a lack of Welsh media. As a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group shows, more than a quarter of a century since Wales said ‘yes’ to an Assembly, more than one in three people (38%) still don’t know that responsibility over health rests with Welsh Government.
We can’t currently depend on our current news providers to create the platform for that civic conversation – which is why devolving broadcasting and creating a shadow broadcasting authority for Wales is part of the Cooperation Agreement. But in the meantime, we must write our own stories and be our own agents of news.
When it comes to winning hearts and minds, it has been proven time and again that there is no tool more powerful than a face-to-face conversation.
I have been inspired and energised by the many independence marches held in recent years and of course they must go on and grow, but our banners will fly higher still when our collective voice is louder.
This means taking more people with us on the journey from indy-cautious to indy-curious to indy-confident. It means “deep canvassing” as it’s called across the Atlantic – meaningful, empathic conversations that focus on using a combination of fact and feeling to shift perceptions and challenge misconceptions. ‘Too small, too poor and too stupid’ must be met with the positive case for independence – set out in tangible terms that will make a real difference to people’s lives and using that most powerful currency of all - hope.
The Labour First Minister likes to laud the UK as “a great insurance policy”, but in truth, the union which he claims enables us to “draw out” does nothing but sell Wales short. The Tories will always treat our nation with contempt, but what use a change of government in Westminster when Starmer follows in Sunak’s anti-strike, pro-privatisation footsteps?
Devolution is unstable and unsustainable. With Labour and the Conservatives perpetuating the myth that we inhabit a voluntary union of nations, the conversations that dispel this delusion are more important than ever before.
Call by call, street by street, open doors will lead to open minds. It will take time and it will take toil, but I have never known a movement so determined nor a vision more desired.
A hundred years ago Welsh women collected a petition of almost 400,000 signatures to try and persuade America to join the League of Nations in the search for a better world. A generation later a quarter a million signatures were collected in support of a Parliament for Wales. The first step in any campaign of persuasion is to ask that simple question: are you yes yet? If everyone gathered in the conference in Swansea this weekend and the rally later in May begin to have that conversation, we will soon have a country of indy-converts. Not for independence’s sake, but for the sake of the struggling families and the under-paid public sector workers for whom a fairer future is in our grasp.