…and that’s a good thing
In recent weeks a couple of Twitter accounts and groups have sprung up in favour of independence linked to either party or other loyalties. Labour for IndyWales is one such and IndyWomen Cymru another.
While the Labour for IndyWales prompted a worthwhile debate on Labour’s historic approach and current attitudes to independence, and the effects of the current Labour admin’s efforts in the devolved government, the very first post on the Facebook page when IndyWomen was mentioned was a snark.
Now this is absolutely standard – every women’s network on the planet is used to this. I’ve been involved with women in flying, in IT, in STEM, in other activities and every single time you get the same pout: “Huh, why don’t we have a special group for men.” I went as far as making up a bingo card for it once.
But where IndyWales is concerned this sort of thing deeply undermines the objective.
You think we can win this without female half of the population?
You think we can win this with just Plaid Cymru members?
And frankly, even speaking as a Plaid voter and paid up member, it’s right that we can’t. A one party state, however benevolent it may start out, is not healthy. That’s not what Wales needs, for certain.
We need diverse opinions. We need groups like IndyWomen and Labour for Indy.
We need the people who only got interested in Welsh independence because of Brexit. We need the people who are interested because they want to get back into the EU independently of England and the people who want it because they want to be free of both EU and Westminster influences. 52% to 48% are simply not big enough margins for us to expect to win an independence referendum without votes from both sides on that argument.
We had a long debate about it at the last YesAbertawe meeting – about whether YesCymru as an organisation had or should have, a ‘position’ on the EU. We reached no consensus other than honesty – that some members are in favour (anecdotally that seems to be the majority and includes me) and some are against.
We’re part of a network, not a political party, the “position’ is that it should be Wales that decides. And decides on the basis of accurate information from a Welsh media not the mutant amorphous blob of EnglandAndWales coverage which leads to the vast majority of our population not even knowing which powers are devolved and which aren’t.
In the meantime it seems likely the process of leaving the EU will be a done deal well before IndyWales is and so, in many ways, it’s just a sideshow.
We don’t need sideshows, we need common ground.
“Wales decides” is that common ground.
I posted a rather exasperated reply to the original snark which probably bears repeating…
See, this is why we can’t have nice things…
Look, guys, here’s a simple fact: There are not enough of us on the left, the right, feminist, anti-feminist, pro-EU, anti-EU, or any other partisan group for us to win this on our own.
To win this you will have to work with and vote with people who hold sincere socio-economic and political opinions different to yours.
You can listen and learn why they think those beliefs have led them to the IndyWales route, uncomfortable as that listening is certain to be, or you can keep quiet.
What you can’t do and hope to win is name call and dismiss them with ‘fluffy lefty’, ‘shouty feminist’, ‘ranting Nazi’.
That’s what the other side do with their sneering ‘Damn Welsh Nats’. We can not afford that.
Yeah people will form special interest groups, that’s natural and healthy. But we don’t need and can’t afford for those groups to do anything other than cooperate at best or leave each alone as a minimum.
Since the days of the Princes the fraternal infighting in this country has been a gift to those who’d deny us independence and here we still are arguing about whether a particular group of women are the right sort, really want it enough, are really on our side, want it for the right reasons.
It’s a gift to those who’ll say ‘see, they can’t even agree among themselves.’
We can’t do it. We need networks, people, no one wants a one-party state when we win do they? We want a healthy democracy, that means bringing different views and different people with us.
I was going to post why I think IndyWales would be good for women. But that’s not the important point. (And IndyMan has already done it better!)
The point is that people are going to have different reasons for wanting independence and we won’t get it without a level of tolerance and civility over that.
So the more sub-groups and splinter groups the better as far as I’m concerned.
If previous independence referendums and the Brexit campaigning (and for that matter huge swathes of Welsh history) is anything to go by the anti-indy side will use divide-and-conquer routinely as a weapon.
We can’t afford to let it work.