The movement for Welsh independence has had a tumultuous year.

Over the course of the pandemic, as we’ve moved through multitudinous waves of crisis, contagion and confusion, devolution has received an intensity of focus that it rarely enjoys.

We’ve become more aware of our areas of autonomy than ever, and the limits to that freedom have been highlighted too.

Despite clear failings in areas such as care homes and housing (we deserve that independent enquiry), the Welsh Government has at least been a steadier hand than its Westminster counterpart, and its decisions on covid policy less fanatically ideological and reckless.

In short, we’ve had a buffer between us and the chaos of Johnson’s cabinet, if a problematic one. In such an environment, it follows that the question of independence will gain new relevance, particularly for the young, who at this point have lived much of their lives under London Conservative rule, despite being the least likely to vote for it.

That Yes Cymru has seen its membership rocket from around 2,000 to 18,000 in the space of a year makes sense to me, and so too does the steadily climbing support for independence.

We also now see significant support for devolving further powers to the Senedd; when you look at under-fifties alone, this support is overwhelming, at 73% for 25-49 year-olds and 82% for under 24s.

Personally, I saw Labour’s victory in May as less a straightforward endorsement of our current government and more a vote for the broader idea of Wales as an entity distinct from England, making its own choices, at least in part.

Putting aside the question of how deep this distinction actually runs, Drakeford et al came to represent that idea as we diverged from Westminster at key, high-profile moments. As quickly as the independence movement has gained unprecedented traction though, significant chunks of it have unravelled.

May’s election yielded a disappointing loss for Plaid Cymru, which in the space of a day went from contemplating government to losing an important figure in Leanne Wood (it would be a mistake to view Labour’s win as a loss for independence, though – a recent poll suggested 42% of 2019 Labour voters are in favour).

Meanwhile, Plaid’s insistence on running a candidate who had until recently been a vocal supporter of A Woman’s Place UK – considered by many to be a transphobic hate group – deeply damaged its relationship with its young and LGBTQ supporters; North Wales regional candidate Owen Hurcum, now Britain’s first openly non-binary mayor, resigned their candidacy in protest.

We’ve also seen deep ruptures at the heart of YesCymru, and again the fault lines seemed to be issues of inclusivity and respect for marginalised groups; tensions between members that saw the organisation as non-political rather than merely non-partisan, and younger, more diverse activists that brought new priorities and expectations along with their enthusiasm.

These tensions erupted into bitter social media disputes, inflammatory blogs combing through activists’ lives and theorising a 'hard left', 'extremist' takeover of the organisation, alleged harassment and leaks of internal documents which then culminated in the mass resignation of YesCymru's central committee over apparent mental health struggles.

Most recent was the row over Desolation Radio, a popular pro-indie left-wing podcast. As the news became flooded with images of desperate Afghans clinging to the underside of military aircraft during the fall of Kabul, Desolation posted a Twitter poll asking whether its followers would prefer to be governed by Welsh Labour or the Taliban.

When this was met with complaint, the account eschewed apology and solidarity (or simply shutting up), in favour of a further series of grotesque and embarrassing posts designed to aggravate.

As a result, the Welsh left quickly found itself having to read Leanne Wood claiming that “real” racism only existed on the political right, much to our collective chagrin.

It was all of these tangled controversies that came to mind when I saw a social media post by the still-limping-along YesCymru.

It was a map of the world, marked with arrows pointing out former British colonies, with a big “independence is normal” in red across the middle. It’s probably obvious what I’m going to say here, but I still feel it’s worth saying.

Included on the map was Kenya. During the Mau Mau Uprising, shortly before gaining independence in the 1960s, Kenyans suffered unimaginable brutality at the hands of the British Empire.

A source told the BBC in 2011: "They were put in camps where they were subject to severe torture, malnutrition, beatings. The women were sexually assaulted. Two of the men were castrated.The most severe gruesome torture you could imagine.”

Also included was India, which suffered around three million deaths during the 1940s Bengal Famine, which considered to be 'man-made' as a result of policy decisions by Winston Churchill and his Cabinet.

Churchill was quoted as blaming the famine on Indians "breeding like rabbits".

All this to say: Wales isn’t a British colony, not in any meaningful sense of the word. We are a constituent nation of the United Kingdom.

We have, directly and indirectly, benefited from the riches brought about by the brutality of the Empire, and many of our ancestors participated in that brutality.

Of course, we’ve suffered our own tragedies. I grew up not far from the site of one of them, in Aberfan. But we cannot reasonably claim to have endured the same violence, dehumanisation and pain as those bought and sold as slaves, or placed in concentration camps.

It seems to me that this howling misfire, as well as the movement’s recent fractures, are symptomatic of an identity crisis.

For so long, indie Wales was a campaign fought from traditional – and overwhelmingly white – rural Plaid strongholds in the west of Wales, and focussed on the preservation of the Welsh language and national identity.

As such, it often relies on clichéd grievances about English disrespect for Cymru and Cymraeg, like muscle memory.

In an age of spiralling poverty, accelerating climate collapse and the erosion of civil liberties, is this enough? In my view – probably not.

If independence is to be achieved, I think, the movement needs to get serious. It needs to look unflinchingly at Wales’s past, at its participation in colonialism, at the terrible injustices dealt to residents of Tiger Bay, and at its present disengagement with marginalised communities, from BME communities to LGBTQ people to the disabled.

If you’re a brilliant activist of Caribbean descent, would you give your time to a cause that brushes off the savage contributions of Welshmen like Pembrokeshire’s Thomas Picton, who approved the torture of a 14 year old girl during his time as the colonial governor of Trinidad? I don’t know.

The movement needs to paint a picture of the future, to demonstrate what tangible change independence could deliver in people’s lives – all people – and crucially, it also needs to shed its pride.

Kneejerk deflection, conspiracism and defensiveness will only drive people and organisational energy away.

Dialogue builds trust, and trust builds strong movements. Isn’t that what we want?

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