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The Pursuit Of Welsh Sovereignty: Annibyniaeth Gymru, Sut Olwg Sudd? (What Does Welsh Independence Look Like?) 

Welsh independence (nnibyniaeth i Gymru) is gaining traction, and support is growing. Many in Wales (Cymru) believe the Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru) should have authority over their nation, taking those powers from the United Kingdom's Government in Westminster. 

Cymru isn't represented politically in the United Kingdom; in parliament's 650 seats, Cymru has just under five per cent of them. There is an appetite for nnibyniaeth i Gymru. A petition calling for the abolishment of the name 'Wales', which calls for the Welsh (Cymraeg) 'Cymru' to be used as the only name for the country, recently surpassed 10,000 signatures. This means the issue has to be debated in the Senedd. Many people want us to be independent, and the number is growing. 

Independence would grant us the power to establish ourselves as a sovereign nation which creates laws that serve the best interests of our citizens. It would be representative of Welsh people (Pobl Cymraeg) and those who live in Cymru and, therefore, be an in-service to us. I believe we need independence in order for Cymru to fulfil our true potential.  


On January 17th, The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales released a report on Cymru's options to strengthen its democracy and deliver improvements for the people of Cymru. They proposed various possibilities for the future Llywodraeth Cymru, one of which being enhancing devolution. Cymru would gain more control over Cymru's laws, increasing the self-determination available to the Pobl Cymraeg instead of being controlled by London. This, of course, would not grant total sovereignty as there would still be significant powers that lay with the UK's Government in Westminster. The report talks about 'enhancing devolution', not independence. However, it does speak to an appetite in Cymru for increasing the distance between our governance and the halls of Westminster.  


As a nation, we control our health and social care, housing, Local transport services, and education. Cymru recently introduced a new school curriculum whilst things like Student Finance Wales, which provides University students funding for their studies, also works differently to England. Cymru gives every student the same amount of money during their studies, but the amount expected to be repaid depends on family income. Student Finance England bases their loans on household income, regardless of a family's given wage. Some, therefore, might not be able to support their child through university in England. 

Cymru can look after its own citizens; that much is clear. And in many respects, better than England can. We ensure, within the limits that Lodnon allows, that people have a good living standard. Having these powers is a vital starting point for Cymru, but to really effect change and significantly improve quality of life, we need more than devolution.  


Pobl Cymraeg do not have control over foreign affairs, defence, economic policy, most benefits (we do control council tax and free school meals), and, of course, many more things besides. Suppose we achieve Annibyniaeth i Gymru. The Senedd in our capital, Cardiff (Caerdydd), would have the power to improve the lives of their own people - Pobl Cymraeg would represent Pobl Cymraeg. This dream, if achieved, would have the potential to grant us sovereignty and the privilege of being a self-sufficient nation with a significant economic/business focus on Cymru's industries.


The report, aforementioned, states on page 46 that they surveyed people about 'whether the UK parliament should be allowed to legislate on devolved matters, only 17% in England said it should be able to "whenever it wants to" - proportions were even lower in Scotland (12%) and Cymru (14%). Although there were higher numbers replying "I don't know" to the survey question in England (33%), which shows that the English are generally uninformed on the matters of our nation. 

Frankly, a small amount of simple information is enough to educate the population on devolution because it is quite clear how it can benefit Pobl Cymraeg. Devolution will allow everyone to be under a government that delivers what is best for them, as it is a government of the people of the nation. The UK Government can focus its efforts on England whilst Llywodraeth Cymru can work to improve the lives of Pobl Cymraeg. We in Cymru live in a very different climate from England; it is a lot more rural, sparsely populated and agricultural compared to the many major cities, which are corporate and financial centres in England. The economic and business needs of the two nations are quite different, and growth in Cymru looks very different to economic development in England. It makes no sense for decisions to apply to us both as standard when there is little common ground.  


Returning to the report, this time to page 34, 73% of respondents to the survey agreed with the statement, 'You don't see or hear enough about how Wales is run in the media'. This is another clear example of general ignorance regarding Llywodraeth Cymru in the rest of the Union. Here's a quick lesson. In Cymru, we have a 'First Minister' who leads the Government along with a team of ministers elected by members of the Senedd and not through the First Minister's appointment. This approach means the best people are chosen for the job. The Senedd is composed of 60 members elected by constituents through the First Past the Post and the Additional Member System, which ensures that five people in the Senedd will represent every voter to allow for maximum communication with the elected officials and for better representation. Sensible.   


Another option this report suggested for the future of Llywodraeth Cymru was the idea of a federal government system like the US's. Each nation has its own Government but also answers to a central government (in our case, Westminster) that could orchestrate things like national responses to global politics and respond in times of crisis, such as terror attacks or major natural disasters. I do think this would work as a bridge, guiding towards a completely independent Government. It would grant much greater autonomy whilst also providing a safety net as we start our journey towards total independence.  


Of course, as with all indolence movements, there are limits, worries and unknowns. The report acknowledges that independence is a 'viable' option but recognises the undeniable issues and the bumpy that is setting out alone and growing our presence on the world stage. These are legitimate worries, but every country that has become independent has had its struggles, and one only needs to look to all of the success that has come after the turbulence. It is not an argument for denying us our sovereignty.  


Happily, the report recorded no instances of people calling for the Senedd to be abolished, which means it is, across the board, believed that Cymru should have its own Government. The debate centres around one key problem: how much power should the Senedd have? I believe Pobl Cymraeg and those who live in Cymru should govern Cymru. Now, we must elect the Party that will win us that independence.

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