Recent attacks on Adam Price for focussing unduly on ‘independence’ during the Senedd election in May do nothing to advance the debate on Wales’ constitutional future.

As Adam said during that campaign: “If not now, when?”

It was surely appropriate, with Brexit having focussed minds on the relationship between the nations of these islands – including Ireland – that Wales should address the question of national self-determination.

Urgency arose from the rapid growth of YesCymru and the likelihood that, during the present five-year Senedd term, Scotland votes for independence. When that happens, it will be too late to moan: “What about Wales?”

We need to clarify Wales’ options before reaching that historic turning point otherwise we’ll be left behind - the almost-nation that missed the boat.

One can fairly question whether, in May’s election, the balance between this constitutional question and the bread-and-butter issues which dominate electoral manifestos, was correctly judged; and whether the outstanding young talent which Plaid has within its ranks was fully utilised. But that doesn’t detract from addressing the independence issue.

A more valid question is whether Plaid Cymru, Wales’ leading pro-independence party, has – over the past decade – spelt out clearly our concept of independence.

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For when we present our case in an epoch-making referendum, we must be crystal clear as to what independence means to Mrs Jones in Llanrug and Mr Singh in Swansea. They need to know as partners in the new inclusive Wales, which independence will serve.

Clearly, holding a binding referendum on independence explicitly recognises that the national sovereignty of Wales arises from the Welsh people.

But for the people of Wales to support independence, we must clarify what it means –in terms of the movement of people and goods across these islands; citizenship; taxation; currency; the funding of pensions; our relationship with Europe; the monarchy and Commonwealth; and much more.

Fundamentally, we must recognise that, post-independence, there will be an ongoing relationship between our four nations – Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England. This will require mechanisms to regulate issues of mutual concern – such as a British single market which might ensue.

A concomitant issue is whether Wales should consider a confederal relationship, in which sovereignty is pooled for certain functions. I personally feel that a federal union is not what independence implies, but the possibilities of a confederal model should be explored.

If our four nations were within a common European framework, that wouldn’t be necessary. That’s the tragedy of Brexit; yet, ironically, Brexit may be the trigger which dismantles the UK in its present form.

These are the issues that Plaid Cymru, and everyone serious about independence, must explore if we are to carry the Welsh electorate with us. In doing so we must avoid the bitterness and fragmentation which we’ve seen recently within the broader nationalist community. Adam’s timely return next week from his well-earned family break will hopefully help put this right.

It was, supposedly, Gerallt Gymro who stated (presumably in Latin) 800 years ago that if Welsh people “would be inseparable, they would become insuperable!”. That lesson remains true today.

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