WITH the growth of the independence movement in Wales of late, thoughts have naturally turned to when a referendum could be held here.
We already have experience of two national referendums, one in 1997 and the other in 2011.
Plaid in their recent Commission Report looking into the question of independence, actually suggested holding two further referendums over the next few years.
But there are a few voices now emerging, advising against holding any referendum at all, and securing Wales’s independence by other means.
One of those is Sion Jobbins, Chair of YES Cymru, who made his comments in a YES Cymru zoom meeting with a local group recently.
Mr. Jobbins expressed his fears that post-Brexit, the referendum model itself was now a poisoned chalice to be avoided at all costs.
‘I’m also convinced that use of trolls and bots on social media during such a referendum would prove to be incredibly damaging and divisive’ he said.
He pointed to the fact that historically-speaking in Europe, independence referendums have in fact been few and far between.
‘Rather, the usual model followed in small nations seeking freedom, is for their national legislatures to declare their independence’ he said.
He suggested that this was the model that Wales should follow, with Y Senedd itself declaring independence, once enough independence-supporting members are elected there.
‘That would then be the democratic mandate for independence’ he said.
Many would baulk at such an idea, such is the level of eagerness to get involved in campaigning and engaging with the public all over Wales in an exciting referendum campaign.
But, perhaps there is much to be said for Sion Jobbins’s approach.
It’s certainly the case that any referendum is now deeply problematical in view of the four year war of words in the UK following the Brexit Referendum in July 16.
And some people’s absolute refusal to accept the result, and abide by the age-old democratic principle of ‘losers’ consent’.
There’s also some pragmatic considerations to take on board.
As a party, GWLAD have said that the immediate priority in the short-term has to be to make Y Senedd work better for the people of Wales
If by making proper use of the existing powers, Y Senedd’s performance improves, and people start to see the benefits, the arguments for independence then become much more credible.
By the time of the next-but-one Senedd Elections (2025), one would hope that Wales could then vote in enough independence-minded AM’S to make it a reality.
There are of course dangers and pitfalls involved with such an approach.
Obviously, it could not be viable with the present voting patterns for Senedd Elections (under 50% in every election since 1999).
And there is of course the massive disengagement with Y Senedd and Cardiff Bay in general to overcome.
As ever in Wales, we will probably have to wait for Scotland to show the way.
There’s talk that the SNP could turn next year’s Holyrood Election into a de-facto referendum, pledging that a majority for the SNP would then be the basis for a declaration of independence.
Having seen the British propaganda machine in full throttle during the initial referendum in 2014, there’s a feeling perhaps that this machine would not be as effective in a Scottish General Election.
And that an usual election could also prove to be less polarising than a referendum for the people of Scotland themselves.
If Scotland does use such a model to achieve their national freedom, that then opens the door wide for Wales to follow its example in due course.