Mark Drakeford refuses to rule out fourth national lockdown
Welsh Labour’s first pro-independence group launches next week. Its backers, speaking to Express.co.uk, claim more cohorts within the party will come forward in the future, potentially putting First Minister Drakeford’s pro-Union position at risk. Sïon Jobbins, chair of the independence campaign group YesCymru, told Express.co.uk that its membership had surged from 2,000 in February, to 17,000 today. He said: “It’s enabled the myth fed to Welsh people to be dispelled, that we need Westminster rule.” Now, a campaign group in the Labour Party – Labour for IndyWales – is set to spark potential trouble for both Mr Drakeford and Sir Keir Starmer.
Its recently elected president, Bob Lloyd, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk, revealing that he believed the group will be the first of many to challenge Welsh Labour’s current stance and desire to be a part of the Union.
When asked whether Welsh Labour would break away from the Westminster Labour Party, Mr Lloyd told Express.co.uk: “You’d imagine so.
“But what you do see with every party around the world, especially every socialist party, is that we always end up getting together in various groups.
“However, I’m not really sure how it would go down – we haven’t discussed this at length.
“We do support a sister party status because of that need to be able to diverge without contradiction. It seems to be a popular position among the MSs as well.
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“The only difficulty would be funding, which is why we need to organise within the trade unions effectively. But we haven’t put feelers out on it and pursued it much further because we haven’t launched properly yet.
“Once we get things up and running, I don’t imagine we’ll be the only ones calling for an independent Welsh Labour Party.”
Explaining the way the party might operate in an independent country, Mr Lloyd said: “We would organise in the UK by sitting as a group of Labour outfits in Westminster; we’d have Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour, and whoever Labour in England wants to organise, ie, London Labour and Yorkshire Labour organising together in Parliament.
“It wouldn’t be a case of disunity, we’d always be working together because we’re all democratic socialists.”
Mr Drakeford is currently being pressured to offer the people of his country a road map similar to that announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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YesCymru: The campaign group’s membership has soared during the pandemic
Last week, the Welsh Government issued dates for opening some sectors.
However, Conservative leader of the opposition in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, said there had been a “missed opportunity” for clarity.
The Welsh Government said it did not want to raise people’s hopes too early.
Wales has been able to take full control of its decision-making during the course of the pandemic.
Many have noted that as in Scotland, the pandemic has alerted people to the prospect of Wales being able to go it alone in the future, separate to the UK.
Robert Johns, Professor in Politics at Essex University who is an investigator on the Scottish Election Study, told Express.co.uk that Ms Sturgeon has been able to transform Scotland from a “nation” in the Union to a “state” standing solo.
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Welsh independence: Currently around 33 percent of Welsh voters would choose independence in a vote
While support for independence in Wales isn’t as high as in Scotland – it sits at just over half north of the border – the figure appears to be rising.
A poll carried out by ITV Wales in January suggested that somewhere around 33 percent of people would vote “Yes” if an independence referendum were held tomorrow.
While independence remains a fringe aspect of Welsh Labour, other parties in the Senedd have pledged to give the people a say on membership should they win in May’s election.
Plaid Cymru are the only currently serious opposition party to offer such a road map to independence.
Its leader, Adam Price, in his 2018 book, ‘Wales: The First & Final Colony’, explained that the Senedd 2021 elections could be the turning point for Wales if enough people vote for his party.
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He would initiate Plaid’s plan to lead Wales out of the Union and rejoin the EU.
The latter point is where the issue lies.
Wales voted to leave the EU in 2016, by a margin of 53 to 47 percent.
Thus, independence parties – and groups within parties – might find it difficult to consolidate the two things.
However, opinion on membership in Wales appears to be in flux.
Sïon Jobbins: The YesCymru chair believes Wales will leave the UK within the decade
Now, 44 percent of the population would now opt to sign back up to the bloc in an independent country, compared to 38 percent who would say “No”, according to the same ITV Wales poll.
If Wales were to become independent, Sir Keir would face losing a considerable number of seats in Westminster.
Mr Jobbins strongly believes that a break-away will happen by the end of the decade.
He said: “People in Wales, whatever party they vote for, need to start thinking about when Scotland and Northern Ireland do leave, because that will happen within the next decade, and possibly even sooner.”