YES Cymru’s olive branch to more conservative-minded people in Wales has been welcomed.
The organisation put out a tweet on Saturday (see above) saying that although they took a hard line on Unionism, they accepted the ‘complete compatibility of conservatism and independence’.
It was unfortunate that the tweet was later taken down after complaints from the usual suspects, because the original sentiment was totally sound, and prompted a very healthy debate over the weekend.
The truth is that Yes Cymru need to be able to appeal across the political spectrum in Wales, without being partisan in any shape or form.
With the core notion of Independence, of Wales’s sovereign right to follow its own path, set above all present political affiliations.
But in the wake of the recent huge upsurge in its membership, there has been a perception that the organisation has been drifting leftwards of late.
As witnessed by a more insistent and ideological tone in some quarters as to the kind of Wales that has to emerge with Independence.
Which probably gave rise to the organisation’s tweet assuring conservatives that there was a welcome for them as well on the Independence journey.
A spokesman for Gwlad said the original message was a sign of some welcome pragmatism developing within Yes Cymru.
‘A YouGov poll over the summer showed that almost 10% of Conservative voters would support an Independent Wales, so numbers-wise it’s just basic common sense for the movement to extend a welcome to these voters’ he said.
‘If it does eventually come down to what would probably be a tight independence referendum, that 10% could make or break the Yes campaign.’
He added that people often failed to make the distinction between the Conservative and Unionist Party, and conservative-minded people in Wales.
‘Yes, of course there are a lot of such people who are dyed-in-the-wool unionists – but there’s also a significant proportion who are more Welsh in their outlook, and could be minded to support Independence’ he said.
He added that Gwlad identified itself as a small ‘c’ conservative nationalist party, seeking both to conserve and develop Wales at the same time.
‘We believe that conserving what’s best about Wales is a key nationalist principle – conserving our language, our sense of place, our heritage and our landscape. That’s a big Yes in itself’
‘With that sentiment also being totally compatible with developing Wales: developing its economy and its capacity for innovation and creativity to build a more prosperous nation’
The big requirement in 2021 will be to develop the independence discussion and take it beyond social media to the wider community.
Especially amongst people who may be instinctively opposed to Independence for different reasons.
Perhaps one overlooked perception amongst such individuals is a belief that an Independent Wales would be a smaller-minded nation.
Perhaps even an intolerant nation, where some views would be deemed more correct than other views.
That fear has to be acknowledged and addressed head-on. The independence movement should show the way in this respect by welcoming a plurality of views within its ranks.