YesCymru Crosses the Rubicon

THIS weekend marked a crossing of the Rubicon for the independence movement in Wales, after the success of the first ever YesCymru conference held over two days in Aberystwyth.

And the fruitful and open exchange of ideas which took place during the event.

Crossing the Rubicon is associated with a historic decision by Julius Caesar to cross the river Rubicon and into Italy proper from his base in Cisalpine Gaul in 49 BC.

“Iacta Alea Est” cried Caesar in crossing the river to challenge his great rival Pompey on his way to eventual victory.

You could translate that phrase into “Game On!” in today’s language, and it certainly is game-on for the independence movement right now.

To be able to take the message into “Wales proper” from its previous limited and narrow base.

The lead-up to the conference had been overshadowed by a number of leftist groups including Undod and Melin Drafod demanding the exclusion of Gwlad, who are campaigning for independence from a centre-right perspective.

But a decisive response from YesCymru CEO Gwern Gwynfil, rejecting that demand out of hand, seemed to set the tone for the whole conference: one of engagement, open discussion and a renewed determination to move ahead together.

With encouraging a plurality of views now firmly accepted as being essential to convey the independence message to the people of Wales.

A Gwlad spokesman said they were very impressed with the conference itself and very happy too with people’s responses to the party’s message there.

“It would be easy for us to adopt a victimhood mentality and complain about some of the ridiculous accusations levelled against us by these groups” he said.

“But our focus would rather be on the positive now – the engaging conversations we had, the links that were made and the ideas that were shared.”

He said that Gwlad was particularly pleased with the impression made by party leader Gwyn Wigley Evans at the Question Time session on Sunday.

“We all know what an excellent speaker Gwyn is, and it was great to see how well-received his clear and no-nonsense message proved to be amongst the delegates.”

“He was also the only speaker to actually speak Welsh on the panel, and I think that was also very much appreciated by the audience.”

The spokesman added that people from a more traditional leftist background had also come forward to acknowledge the validity of the points he was making.

“It is a big step forward for the movement to be able to acknowledge the common ground we have together on some key issues” he said.

Some of the other highlights of the conference included a rousing speech from Plaid councillor Carrie Harper who is a key part of the Wrecsam resurgence happening at the moment.

As well as a presentation from economist John Ball of Swansea who explained that Wales’s financial situation is actually much healthier than we have been led to believe.

He argued that if defence and pension liabilities to the UK government were excluded from Wales’s budgetary picture – as would be the case in an independent state – Wales would actually have a 0.5% positive GDP, as current expenditure costs would amount to £29 billion and taxation receipts amounting to £29.456 billion.

Which would be an excellent basis to start to build the thriving and prosperous independent Cymru we all want to see.

The delegates also heard some fascinating polling data from Dafydd Trystan about people’s current perceptions about independence.

One of the most striking elements outlined was the support gap between Welsh speakers and English speakers in Wales at present.

65% of fluent Welsh speakers support independence with 40% of those who speak some Welsh supporting the idea.

But this figure falls to only 20% amongst English-only speakers – which gives a clear indication of where YesCymru need to extend their message in the near future.

Although the attendance could perhaps have been better, all in all the YesCymru conference proved to be a big success in several ways.

Not just the quality and variety of the presentations and events staged at Aberystwyth.

But the fact that the movement has finally accepted that pluralism of views is here to stay.

And with 30% to 35% of the Welsh population voting for centre/centre-right parties in the Senedd Election in 2021, it makes clear strategic sense that those voters can now see their perspectives also articulated within the independence movement.

And feel confident as well that those views could also be represented when Wales actually achieves its independence.

The movement came of age this weekend. Game On!

4 thoughts on “YesCymru Crosses the Rubicon

  1. Language has always held the independence movement back – with English only speakers worried about becoming second class citizens in an independent Wales. We need to allay those fears if we are to reach our goal of an independent and prosperous Wales. We need some English only speakers from Gwent and Deeside to champion the cause.

    1. Yes, the figures reported by Dafydd Trystan – independence support of 65% among Welsh-speakers but only 20% among non-Welsh-speakers – was very striking. It was good that our man on the Gwlad stand for much of the day was Ebbw Vale boy Calen Jones, but we need many more like him.

      1. We need to avoid it ‘dovetailing’ with any demographics of any kind, lest it end up something like in Ireland, where nationalism/republicanism is to this day overwhelmingly a Catholic ‘thing’.

    2. Yes, i wouldn’t disagree with that Mike.

      Even from the perspective of someone whose main independence driver is the continuation of Cymraeg as a living language.

      “A raid i’r iaith ein gwahanu?” was the question asked by philosopher JR Jones in the 1960ies.

      NO was his answer then and it’s still a NO today.

      We have to reach out to more English-speakers- but paradoxically at the same time- we could create more Welsh-speakers in future by doing so as well.

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