Welsh Independence Is Closer Thank You Think – This Week's Elections Are Another Step Down The Path

While Brexit deliberation, equivocation and disinformation has come back to bite the two big parties, Wales is ready throw open the doors of our future and take our seat at the table.
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The two largest political parties in the UK are in freefall. Thursday’s English local elections were just the start of their nightmare. In less than three weeks’ time, the European elections are likely to see them sink to new electoral lows.

Their Brexit deliberation, equivocation and disinformation has come back to bite them. The two-party consensus has been ripped apart by new division lines. The question I have heard over and over out on the campaign trail is, if not them, then who?

You will not be surprised by my answer.

Plaid Cymru are the only party in Wales with a chance of winning seats in the European Parliament that is unequivocally supporting a People’s Vote.

As I said at the launch of our campaign this week, for that reason we are appealing for support across the political spectrum.

These elections are a bridge across which thousands of people can venture to make the change that Wales needs.

We are saying to progressive people across the political spectrum: join us.

Our appeal is especially to Labour supporters who, for years, have been in a state of permanent disappointment with the leadership of their party.

They’ve seen their leaders oversee decades of economic decline – Wales is going backwards in terms of the statistics and indicators that mean a third of our children are living in poverty.

They’ve seen their leaders complacent while our education system underperforms, and our health service struggles. They’ve seen their leaders take the UK into an unjust war in Iraq, despite a million people marching against it.

Now they see their leaders vacillating over Brexit, despite, once more, a million people marching to demand a People’s Vote.

Some people will say this election is pointless. A distraction caused by a delay that does not affect our departure.

But they are wrong. This election is about the deep-rooted divisions, disquiet and discontent in our society. This election will send a more powerful message than perhaps any other.

And our message is simple – we will make Wales matter.

We know that Wales matters. Wales matters to millions of our people, in their daily lives. But in the corridors of power, it doesn’t matter one bit. We are an invisible nation, that was once even left off the map of Europe and isn’t on the radar in Whitehall or Westminster.

This election is not just about putting Wales – our lives, our problems and our dreams – at the heart of Europe, but bringing Wales in from the margins and out from the cold.

If we want the new Wales that a new politics will bring, in less than three weeks’ time we must vote for it.

We are unequivocal in our support for Europe, and our mission to see an independent Wales is equally unequivocal.

For many years, our desire to see an independent Wales has seemed distant. An aspiration to which we were getting no closer, despite our perspiration.

But the tide is turning. The marches are growing. The voices are louder.

Welsh independence is closer than you think and these elections could be another step down that path.

Leaving the European Union is no answer to our democratic deficit as a nation.

Rather, we want to join the European Union as an independent member, trebling our MEPs, giving us a Commissioner, the Presidency of the Council on a rotating basis, and billions of Cohesion Funding until we are brought back up to decent levels of prosperity.

When did London ever offer us that?

One of those countries determining Britain’s fate during that late-night session last month was Ireland. It has a larger population than Wales, but not significantly so when compared with the larger member states.

And the experience of Ireland over the past three years of negotiations between the UK and the rest of the EU provides Wales with a valuable lesson.

It is simply this: when it was part of the United Kingdom, Ireland was poor, peripheral, neglected and had virtually no influence on the world stage.

But as part member of the European Union in its own right, Ireland has prospered and basked in the continued close attention of its European neighbours.

And, not only that, Ireland has levered enormous influence in defense of its national interest. In the process it has completely turned the tables on the previous 700 years of its colonial relationship with England.

Who can deny that over the last three years’ psychodrama of Britain’s failed withdrawal from the European Union that Ireland has been centre stage.

These elections could be a significant step on the path to a better, independent European future.

As a nation, Wales has spent too long in the ante-room of history. It’s time to throw open the doors of our future and take our seat at the table. We want to be listened to. Because this is our world too and we have something to say.

Adam Price is the leader of Plaid Cymru