THOUSANDS are expected to converge on Wrexham this Saturday for the first Independence March for nearly three years.
The last march was held in Merthyr Tudful in September 2019, with the whole momentum of the movement since then held up by both internal dissensions within YesCymru and the covid saga itself.
This long hiatus has been frustrating and dispiriting for all concerned, especially as the first three marches (Cardiff, Caernarfon, Merthyr) had all carried such a sense of growing promise and excitement about the possibilities of independence.
Now though there’s a renewed sense of purpose again, with Saturday’s march also made that much more meaningful in view of two other recent developments.
In the first place, Wales’s presence at the World Cup in Qatar in November which will create a world-wide profile for the nation and provide an unprecedented backdrop for the re-launched Independence movement.
Secondly, the SNP’s announcement this week that they intend to hold their second independence referendum on October 19th, 2023 also provides a UK-wide context for the new Welsh Independence campaign.
Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party – intends to be very visible during the events in Wrexham this weekend. There will be a Gwlad stall in the “IndyFest Market” being held throughout the day in Queen’s Square, a stone’s throw from Llwyn Isaf where the march will begin and end; and then as soon as the post-march Rally in Llwyn Isaf finishes (expected to be around 3pm), the party will hold a Road to Independence meeting at Tŷ Pawb, a landmark building three minute’s walk away from Llwyn Isaf, in a room with a capacity of over 100.
“Marching and singing is great to raise awareness about independence, and how better Wales could be in future’ said Gwlad leader Gwyn Wigley Evans.
“But how do we get there from where we are today, by means of concrete and practical steps?”
Mr. Evans said the people of Wales needed to be persuaded of the case for Independence, and that meant explaining the process honestly, and outlining how it could happen on a step-by-step basis.
“We are a pragmatic party above all else, and that means being pragmatic in the way that we put this case to the people. We’ve got to bring the public with us every step of the way” he added.
Even though Scotland seem way ahead of Wales on the road to independence, there are perhaps clear advantages to be where we are at today.
A nation where the idea of independence is still new and fresh, untainted by past failures and divisions and not associated with a governing party either.
Although the SNP’s move to call a second independence referendum this week is to be welcomed, Scotland itself seems deeply divided about the issue if truth be told.
As indicated by a Comres poll in the Scotsman today, which showed that only 40% of Scots were in favour of holding the referendum next year with 53% against.
Although a question could be asked about the veracity of a poll held so quickly after Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement made on Tuesday.
It could also be argued that the independence campaign in Scotland is handicapped in one sense by being associated so heavily with a governing party, the SNP, who have been in power for 14 years.
Being in power for so long carries its own set of problems as we now see with the Tories in Westminster, and the SNP themselves have been beset by a number of financial scandals of late.
Indeed, only today, one of their former MP’s Natalie McGarry was jailed for two years for embezzling £25,000 from two pro-independence groups in Scotland.
Such negative publicity and a public perception that politicians are on the make even on the Independence side certainly doesn’t help the cause one iota.
Fortunately, at this stage, the independence movement in Wales is free from being associated with a long term governing party, and all the perils which come along with that.
Although independence is an option favoured by 5 political parties in Wales, Plaid, Gwlad, Propel, Sovereign Wales and the Greens – it is still in essence an idea which is beyond the reach of individual parties and politicians.
The organisers of the event in Wrecsam seem to have taken that idea to heart as well, as there is much more on Saturday’s agenda than your usual march and political speeches.
With more of a festival feel to the proceedings this time, hoping to make the concept of independence more appealing to people on a communal and participative level.
Perhaps the long term success of the independence project depends on keeping it free from politics as we know it.