That Adam Price independence speech in full
The full text of the speech by Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price during the debate on independence in the Senedd.
At the heart of this parliamentary session’s last debate is a very simple but fundamental proposition: that the decision on whether Wales should become an independent nation should rest alone with the people of Wales.
We believe that Wales’ right to determine its constitutional future, including the right to become an independent country, should the people of Wales vote to do so, should be enshrined in law.
Specifically this requires devolving to this Senedd the power to choose when and whether to call a referendum on Wales’ constitutional future, giving practical effect to the right of the people of Wales to choose the form of governance best suited to their needs.
Democracy is by definition, government by the people. But then we have to decide who the people are.
And for us, the answer is obvious. The people are the people of Wales, who live within its borders and collectively form a nation which enjoys the right to self-determination that is a basic tenet of international law and a founding principle of the United Nations Charter.
This sovereign right of the people of Wales to determine their own future is the cornerstone of this Senedd. But currently our accumulated legitimacy, the powers we hold are not ours by right, but loaned to us to by another Parliament that describes itself, without irony, as supreme – even as it crumbles slowly into the Thames.
That is a constitutional conceit with which the Labour Welsh Government has said it firmly disagree. In its White Paper, Reforming Our Union the Welsh Government said this:
“Parliamentary sovereignty as traditionally understood no longer provides a sound foundation for this evolving constitution. It must be open to any of its parts democratically to choose to withdraw from the Union.”
So when we affirm in our motion the right of the people of Wales to decide whether Wales should become an independent country, we should reasonably expect this Government to support our claim of right.
But what we have from the Government is that wrecking ball of parliamentary debate, the delete all amendment, that removes all reference to the right to determine our own future, says nothing about the voluntary nature of this union and introduces that ‘lion and unicorn’ mythic pairing so beloved of progressive Unionists, a reformed United Kingdom.
The Welsh Government’s position is the constitutional equivalent of St Augustine’s plea. Make us sovereign Lord, just not yet.
Let’s give the ideal of a reformed UK which would allow for ‘co-ordinated governmental action to be pursued’ one last heave, even though we have seen over the last few months the catastrophic mistakes of a dysfunctional, incompetent, shambolic Westminster Government, that has treated the Welsh Government in a manner that has oscillated between benign neglect and outright contempt, led by a political and administrative elite that still believes that Westminster knows best even as Britain registers among the worst death rates in the world. The Welsh Government has made mistakes in the course of the crisis, but the greatest of them was trying to make a four nation approach work in an Unequal Kingdom.
When it comes to reform in any area – the First Minister mentioned the limbo in social care since the Dilnot Commission – Westminster makes Godot look positively punctual.
We will never make change by waiting for others to change for us.
We can either assert our right to determine our own future, or else we will find the future determined for us, whether its’s the tarmacking of the Gwent Levels or the latest State Aid power grab by the Chancellor.
I thank Members for their contribution to the debate. I would like in particular to mention the contributions of…..
Whatever we decide tonight, it is important for our Welsh democracy that the debate in here reflects the debate happening already out there.
And whatever your view on the question of independence, the right of the people of Wales to ask it should be inalienable.
For us in Plaid Cymru, the answer to both those questions is yes.
‘Yes’ to having a say and yes to yes.
The people of Wales are on the move, and they are where they should be, in the vanguard, in the driving seat, leading this debate. They are watching us in their many thousands tonight.
When the story of our independence is written, these last few years of crisis and upheaval, from Brexit to Covid, will I think loom large. And for this reason.
Because rather than causing people to cleave to the old certainties, these times of crisis have opened people’s minds to new possibilities.
That slogan, building back better, resonates for us all now in different ways.
We have lost so many, but we have gained an understanding of what we truly value. That is the golden thread, the silver lining from the dark cloud of this time. We, the people of Wales, are the builders of that better Wales. No-one else will build it for us. But if we believe in ourselves and in each other there is nothing we cannot achieve.