Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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Archive for August 11th, 2008

11th August 2008

Silence is not an option

In the busy process-obsessed world of modern politics, parties have little time and space to think, discuss and debate their future direction, so it’s good that Plaid too is having its own little summer of introspection.  Cynog is right, of course, to express his concerns - which will be shared by many of the older generation in the party.  These are familiar arguments, of course, which were aired at the time of the debate in the 2003 conference where the party adopted the term ‘independence’ as a description of our long-term constitutional objective for the first time.  Our objective of Welsh membership of the United Nations always implied that we were in favour of independence (though techically there are a small number of UN members that are freely associated members of other states rather than fully independent) but we always dressed it up in different language:  ’full self-government’, ‘full national status’ and the like.  As Professor Richard Wyn Jones has commented, clarity as far as its constitutional aims has never been one of Plaid’s strongest suits.

2003 for me was a huge step forward in the evolution of the party into becoming a serious political party with a clear political programme - short, medium and long-term - not some vague evanescence of ‘Welsh values’.  That is not to say that we should not be ‘political realists’; Cynog is right to stress that to function as a political movement we have to be relevant in the here-and-now.  Welsh independence will not form a central plank of Plaid’s Westminster general election nor 2011 Assembly campaigns (though it will have some relevance to next year’s European elections) for that reason. We cannot, however, maintain a policy of dignified silence as far as our long-term vision for the future of Wales for two over-riding reasons:

i.  Quite simply if we don’t talk about our ultimate aim, then our political opponents will.  Better for us to lead the debate than constantly be on the defensive.

ii.  We need to create a new generation of nationalists.  We do that through presenting clear arguments as to why our vision of an independent Wales offers the greatest opportunity for social progress and prosperity. 

As far as the referendum is concerned, it is vitally important that we make it clear that while we support a Yes vote, the Government of Wales Act 2006 - full of inconsistencies and weaknesses as it is - is not our policy.   That is why last time around in 1997 Dafydd Wigley, as President of Plaid, published a paper calling for a multi-option referendum, including Plaid’s policy of independence in-all-but-name.  If we are open and honest about our ultimate aims then people will respect us even if they disagree.  I fear that any attempts, however well-meaning,  to obscure our nationalism in order to avoid ’frightening the horses’ would be seen as devious at a time when honest politics is at a premium.