Voting Ourselves Free

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With permission from my fellow campaigners at Yescaerdydd, this blog summarises the approach we intend to take as a group in the campaign for an independent Wales.  Our thinking is at an early stage, and will be refined and enhanced as others join us (indeed our intention in putting our thinking out there is to create an ‘open-source’ approach, you can contribute via social media, or hopefully join us via video link once we’ve set this up for future meetings).   But for now, we have a plan to unite and guide our efforts. Its not a plan for how an independent Wales will look.  Its not an economic plan, or a political strategy, because we don’t think we have all the answers. It’s an engagement plan, to get more of you involved so that together we can make it happen.

Hopefully the following will give you a flavour of the discussions we’ve had so far, and tempt you to either join us or set up your own branch of YesCymru. The pictures accompanying this blog are in reference to the two newest members of the YesCymru movement – @yesllundain and @YesCymruBroMorg. Momentum gathers… 

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No one likes being told they are wrong.  At the moment, being #indyconfident is still a minority (albeit a growing minority) stance in Wales.  It’s not going to move things on a great deal therefore if we tell those who are sceptical or negative about independence that their opinions are misguided.  That we are right.  That our view of things is the correct one. We’re all entitled to our opinions, and our identity is often firmly routed in our strongest beliefs.

Instead of simply telling people that independence is the way forward therefore, at Yescaerdydd we are advocating a different approach.  One that we feel will lead people to embark on their own journey towards an independent Wales. We want to open up the debate.  To crack it wide open, so that nothing is off limits.  We want to provide a forum for people to ask bold questions, to dream big.  We believe that Wales has been accepting the status quo for too long.

For instance.  Why is it that Wales is still one of the poorest countries in Europe? Rather than use this as a reason to reject the possibility of independence (as it often is, within the first 30 seconds of the ‘I’ word being mentioned), why not use it as the start of a conversation about the reasons why we are poor? If 600 years within the United Kingdom has failed to put us on a par with England in terms of wealth, then is it not time we started to ask some probing questions about an alternative approach?

Yescaerdydd isn’t just for the #indyconfident (those who are sure that independence is a good idea, even if they aren’t yet confident in their ability to advocate for all the reasons why).  We’ve been having some great conversations in our meetings.  If you are pro indy, or even just mildly curious, or if you aren’t sure about independence but you are pretty damn sure that Wales can do better then come along.  Yescaerdydd is for you.

Last time we met we continued a conversation we’d started about who Yescaerdydd is for (everyone) and how we might engage with people differently depending on where they stand in relation to independence.  Because everyone has a stance. Even if they haven’t really thought about it or articulated it.

Maybe you are an #indypessimist.  You want independence for Wales, but you’ve spent so long believing that it isn’t possible, that you’re kind of depressed about the whole situation.  On a good day you think we can do it, but sometimes you’re not even sure you’d vote for it yourself.  Can we really do it? Yescaerdydd is definitely for you.  Think of us as a support team, we’ll cheer you up, energise you and make you believe again.  We’re big friends of the #indypessimists out there…

One of the key groups we have talked about a lot already are the #indycurious.  This is a term we coined early on in the process of forming Yescaerdydd, and for some of us it helped us to articulate how we came to be involved.  I believe that this is a much bigger group of people than we dare to speculate. Crucially, it depends on how we define the term.  You could look on being #indycurious as someone who is actively starting to consider independence.  Or someone who has been thinking about it, and for the first time feels ready to talk about it publicly (increasingly people are using the term on social media as a way of ‘coming out’ for indy).

But I think that the term #indycurious really comes into it’s own if we broaden the term right out.  I would say that it includes many people who haven’t even necessarily directly considered independence.  Maybe it’s just not on their radar. But they are engaged.  They are aware.  They are switched on to the failings of the current political situation for Wales and they want change.  Perhaps they are concerned about poverty, about health inequality, fuel poverty, environmental issues, the fallout from Brexit.  They share many of the characteristics of the #indyconfident, they just haven’t yet given it a name. They haven’t yet dared to dream.  Our role is to help them join up the dots between all these things and an independent Wales.

I would define the state of being #indycurious therefore as simply holding the belief that a better future for Wales is possible.  If you meet that definition, then we’d have some great debates about the best way to get there.  Join in.

The other groups that we have talked about in our meetings include the #indysceptics (kind of does what it says on the tin). We’d like to pose questions that provoke thought and spark interest in this group by linking independence to other big ideas.  Asking questions that tempt them to ask ‘what if?’

There are of course also those who are intractably negative about independence, and extremely unlikely to change their mind.  Our approach here is to politely side-step and move on.

We cannot ignore the fact that a large and significant proportion of people in Wales are simply entirely disengaged with politics.  This is in large part due to the shambolic state of Westminster politics at the moment.  It is also due to the enormous information deficit in Wales that is the lack of a Welsh media.  As a Nation, we simply don’t know enough about what is happening in our own seat of Government.  If we did, we would collectively have a lot more to say about it (and we might not have continued to vote the same party into Government for 19 consecutive years).

For this reason, creating an independent media in Wales is part and parcel of campaigning for independence.  To be informed is to be empowered, and an empowered population will vote themselves free.  We are indebted therefore to all those already blogging for the movement, and stand in solidarity with all those out there who are willing to give time and /or resources to creating independent media sources (a particular big shout out to Desolation Radio – check out their recent podcast on this topic).

So why have we been spending time talking about all of this? Why don’t we just have a independence rally every week? Because we are serious about this.  The stakes are too high, the potential rewards for Wales are too numerous, the opportunities too exciting. So we need a plan, because we’re really doing this.

You could think of our definitions of #indytypes as forming an engagement plan.  They aren’t an attempt to put people in boxes.  I’ve talked about different indy ‘groups’ here but we realise that everyone is unique and has their own nuanced stance.  What we are trying to do is to understand and to tailor our messages.  If we want to engage and inspire people, then we need to think hard about where those other people are starting from, in order to engage with them in a way that will be fun, stimulating, positive and empowering.  No one wants to be told that they are wrong.

We’d love your feedback and input into all of this.  Please add comments below. Contact us via @yescaerdydd.  Come along to our next meeting on Thursday the 3rd of November @indycubetradest

Diolch yn fawr iawn – a big thanks to everyone at Yescaerdydd for their input to the ideas in this blog.

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