How to be #indyconfident for Wales.

Confidence sign with a beautiful day

It’s possible that you have wanted an independent Wales for a long time. Perhaps your whole life, which may be sixty years or more by now, if you are wise and rugged. Or maybe you only started thinking about it when you moved here, like me eleven years ago, and so it is a feeling that is as old as your Welsh citizenship.

Maybe you have only recently realised that it is what you want.

Whenever you started thinking about Welsh independence, and regardless of how rugged you are or not, it is likely that your ideas and feelings have changed over time.

That they are still changing.

Mine certainly are: why do you think I write so much?

When I look back at the first blogs I wrote about Welsh independence, only 8 months or so ago, I realise how much has changed. In me, and in the world.

I still stand by what I wrote back then, but I have since embarked on a thought experiment, and it has changed me.

This experiment has been partly played out in my own head, and on this keyboard, and in these words which you are now reading. By writing about an independent Wales, and how we might get there, I have explored ideas and topics that I had not previously tried to get to grips with.

The other part of the thought experiment has been going on in collaboration, with trusted co-conspirators. In person, and online. In meetings, gardens, parks. On twitter, by email and WhatsApp. We have been co-creating a new narrative. Inventing a new lexicon.

I am glad that I have been blogging right from the start, because it has recorded the journey I have been on, and when I read back I can see that I have learned a lot. I have refined my thinking, and I have gained a great deal of insight into how I originally thought about Welsh independence, and how that has changed.

And that is what fuels my writing, mostly. Reflection on our relationship with the notion of independence. For I believe that this is where the key lies. It is inside us. All of us, and we need to understand the mechanism by which we unlock it.

So when I am campaigning for Welsh independence, although I am expressing myself, a lot, mostly here between you and I, actually what I am doing more is listening.

Listening to myself.

Listening to other people.

I am like a safe breaker. Listening for the clicks. Trying things out.

Click.

Click. Click.

Because a great many people, including those who dearly, earnestly, passionately desire Welsh independence, are looking elsewhere. And they aren’t listening out for the things I am listening out for.

And that is why they aren’t as indyconfident as I am.

This conclusion I have come to, that the key to Welsh independence lies in me, and you, and all of us, is important.

It is one of the key realisations that happens when you move from being indycurious (wondering, and wanting, and starting to ask about Welsh independence) to being indyconfident.

To be indyconfident is not to believe that Welsh independence will be easy. It isn’t to believe that it can be achieved quickly, or that it will be straightforward, or that there will not be hurdles.

But it is to acknowledge that people in Wales have the capability and the right to rise to this challenge.

That we don’t have to deny that it will be testing, or declare how we will overcome every difficulty. We just need to admit that it is our challenge to own.

And this is to see the whole debate anew.

Because until you are indyconfident, you are still in chains. And the chains that bind you are the demands that others, and ourselves, have put upon the goal of Welsh independence for so long.

These questions are very familiar.

Most of them start with ‘How?’

You know the type, I won’t dwell on them here.

Most of these questions come supplied with a demand to be met. A condition to be satisfied before the debate is allowed to move on.

You are asked to supply ‘the numbers’.

You are told to go away, and come back when you have ‘a plan’.

Uh huh.

So that’s the nub of it. That’s what lies at the heart of being indyconfident. It is realising that these are all of the wrong questions.

Because ‘how?’ implies a forgone conclusion. It implies we know where we are going. But how can we know that?

No one can know what an independent Wales can be. No one. Not until we get there.

And by everyone’s admission we are a long way off (although a lot closer than we were a short while ago).

An independent Wales is not a fixed thing. It is the combination of the hopes and dreams, the aspirations and imaginings, of you and I, and everyone in Wales who wants to engage with building it.

So how can anyone possibly ask you for a plan?

How can they possibly ask you to provide a budget?

Before we start answering any questions about how, and how much and how long and at what cost, we need to ask a lot of other questions. Questions that start more like ‘what’ (like what do we want) and ‘why’ (like why is it important) and ‘who’ (everyone).

Because the other thing that is noticeable about feeling indyconfident is that you change from a state of opposing something (like being part of the UK, or being ‘swallowed up’ as if as a region of England) to actively seeking something that previously you didn’t know you were lacking.

A vision for what Wales could be.

And you notice this lack in others around you. Principally those in a position of notional leadership. This is the biggest change in myself that I have observed in the last 8 months. I have gone from a position of passive desire for Welsh independence, based mostly on a rejection of the things I don’t want about the UK, to a position of active engagement with Wales’ future.

I’ve sussed out that we don’t have a vision.

Where are we going?

Apparently, we are on a ‘devolution journey’. A what? A ‘continuum’. Well no wonder everyone fell asleep.

Excuse me for putting my hand up (again) and asking difficult questions (I am doing that a lot lately, its another symptom of indyconfidence). But don’t we owe it to ourselves to aspire to something a little more, well, aspirational?

So this, this realisation is one of the biggest things about being indyconfident. And trust me, people notice when you start rocking up in rooms full of people, like rooms full of third sector professionals (because that’s where I rock up when I’m not being Indymam, or Mam). When you rock up and ask questions like ‘so why are we here, collectively, what are we actually trying to achieve, what do we want for Wales?’

A lot of people sit up, and many of them want to talk over coffee. And some of them look perplexed, and quickly fire off an email to head office in Swindon.

But they’ll catch up.

Because I thought that I could keep my indycuriosity in a box, and just get it out in certain company. And maybe I could have done, if it hadn’t turned into indyconfidence, maybe. Probably not. I thought it was a hat I could wear, and choose to put on, or not, depending on who I was talking to.

But it isn’t a hat, and it isn’t in a box, and it doesn’t need to be. Because it is something that I bring to everything now, and it is just a new way of looking at things.

It can be exhausting at times, because it feels like every single conversation is a head rush of data. I feel like I am a hard drive, downloading information all of the time. Because I have re-tuned my antennae (mixed metaphors I know, but this is kind of a stream of consciousness) I am noticing all of the signals that before I used to miss. Or that if I picked them up, I thought it was just me.

Because of the new lexicon that we have been co-creating, I notice, all the time, when people ‘other’ Wales. When they talk about West Wales instead of saying that they went to Aberteifi. That we other ourselves for an audience that isn’t familiar with our geography, even though we are.

I notice when people talk about ‘leadership’ but they are talking about England, not our leaders in Wales. That it hasn’t occurred to them that we need leadership, or that we should expect it, or that we can demand it (and then vote for someone else if it doesn’t materialise).

I notice all of these things anew now. And sometimes I gently query, but mostly I am listening. And understanding. Because I have come to realise that the journey to Welsh independence will not be, for the most part, made up of numbers on a spreadsheet, of figures in a budget.

It will be about people. It will be about understanding the psychology of desire, of hope and optimism.

It will be about relationships.

And that is the other thing that characterises indyconfidence. It is a chemical reaction that occurs when you take your indycuriosity, and you put it out there, and you mix it with the curiosity of other people. Together, it creates something altogether more interesting and a lot harder to ignore.

Some of the things you thought you understood, you see differently.

Some of the doubts you had, clear.

Some of the fear you had, dissipates. And in the place that these feelings lay, something else moves in. Something powerful that you couldn’t possibly have expected until you started connecting with people. Connecting with people that inspire you.

Hope moves in.

So if you are sat reading this, and you are thinking about your next move. Don’t wait. Because also reading this, are some people that are going to play a very big part in your life over the next few years.

You just haven’t met yet, but you will.

Keep a journal.

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