A St. David’s Day Opinion poll today reveals that only 18% of the Welsh population would support independence – if a referendum were to be held tomorrow.
Over a thousand people were questioned for the WalesOnline survey with 55% saying ‘No’ to the idea and 20% undecided.
It’s quite a decline from some of the more recent independence figures, which reached a high of nearly 30% only a year or so ago.
It’s not the kind of news you really want to be reading on St.David’s Day, but it does raise a number of interesting points.
Firstly, one could argue that the question itself was quite loaded in asking people to consider an independence referendum held “tomorrow”.
The very inclusion of the word tomorrow skews perceptions – and nudges people to think that the idea is on the doorstep so to speak.
One wonders how different the responses might have been had the question be phrased in a slightly different way – e.g asking respondents to answer the question about a referendum held “during this Senedd term (up to 2025)”
As ever, the wording is all important, and some also might venture the opinion that Reach PLC (the owners of WalesOnline) designed the question purposefully to gain the required answer.
Nevertheless, one always has to play what is in front of you.
It well be the case that there has been a real decline in the numbers of those who support independence by means of a referendum.
Perhaps the prospect of a Labour Government voted in with a huge majority in Westminster in 2024 has persuaded more to engage in the same-old, same-old fantasy politics of Labour making a difference in Wales again.
And who knows, maybe the huge current fall-out within the SNP and all the chaos that has emerged in Scotland of late has also affected people’s perceptions about an independence referendum and what a referendum might entail here in Wales too.
But whatever the case may be, there’s also a pressing need to move away from referendum thinking here.
As a party, Gwlad has made it clear from the start that we don’t believe that an Independence Referendum is the way to go about achieving freedom for Wales.
Rather, independence must be won by means of elections in our own legislative body, the Senedd.
“We believe that putting all our eggs in the basket of a notional referendum sometime is tactically naive. Such a move would be a complete hostage to fortune” said a party spokesperson.
“Rather, we need the independence parties here to win power through a Senedd Election be that in 2025 or 2030 and declare independence once that is achieved.”
He pointed out that since 1945, 63 nations have gained their independence in all, with only two of those, Malta and Montenegro achieving that through a referendum.
“Historically, it’s been achieved through winning power in domestic elections, so we’ve got history on our side with this view.”
“It might be seen as more of a hard slog, over possibly two Senedd terms, than a single one-off referendum – but achieving it by means of election success is a much more grounded proposition”
Gwlad’s position on this also seems to have been strengthened by recent events in Scotland, with one of the front-runners to be the new SNP Leader, Ash Regan, also dismissing any second referendum there.
She has revealed her 50% + 1 strategy – whereby if the independence parties in Scotland achieve that figure in a Scottish Election, that will be the automatic trigger to start independence negotiations with Westminster.
Another of the candidates, Kate Forbes has also talked about moving towards independence through better governance in Scotland, rather than through a referendum.
For this new independence party in Wales, it’s also gratifying to hear both Ash Regan and Kate Forbes talking about reaching out to the other independence parties there, Alba and ISP to build a wider coalition to achieve independence.
Yes, of course Wales is different to Scotland and we needn’t be too defined by their particular trajectory, but even so, their direction of travel is bound to have some impact upon our own situation here.
And the bottom line from today’s poll?
Not to be too hung up on opinion polls. And not too hung up on referendums either – despite how juicy and exciting such a prospect may be for many.
There is another way!