A human chain across Euskadi

What better way can there be to spend a sunny Sunday than to form a human chain across your country for the right to determine your own future?

That's what happened today in Euskadi, and this video of it is from a report in English at argia.com:


The movement is called “Gure esku dago” (It's in our hands) and the organizers were hoping to get 50,000 participants. But three times that number turned out.




What's special about this is that it's not something that has been organized by political parties, but by civic society. In party political terms, Basque nationalists are doing very well, with both the centre-right EAJ-PNV and more left wing EH Bildu outpolling the equivalent Spanish nationalist parties. But there seems to be a political paralysis in terms of pressing for independence as both parties wait to see what is going to happen in Catalunya in November.

I'm convinced that popular movements of this sort are rather more important in setting the agenda for independence than the efforts of political parties. Mass events like this are what finally convinced the main nationalist party in Catalunya, the CiU, to get off the fence and adopt a policy of independence. The people led the way, and the political establishment was then left with no choice other than to respond.

So if we in Wales are unhappy with the way our political parties are making the case for the people of Wales to decide what's best for Wales, we need to learn from this. If we rely on political parties to set the agenda for us, we're likely to be disappointed. If we set the agenda, the political parties will respond.

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Anonymous said...

Good posting MH.

There's an article on the chain (two actually) on Daily Wales

And here's a video of the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHtwW0YZN28

I was also glad to hear that there was a report on the event on Radio Cymru.

Has there been any coverage in English of the event (except for Daily Wales)?

On the domestic side, then, frankly I've given up on Plaid making a nationalist case or just giving a nationalist narrative to what's happening in Wales. I've come to the conclusion it's not in their DNA. Their AMs, MPs and MEP just can't seem to make a clear, sensible brave, simple language case for independence and won't do. They'll play safe everytime and by doing so not set the political agenda and not get more news coverage.

In any case, I don't want this to be a slagging off Plaid. I think you, MH and many people realise we have to work outside Plaid to move the political agenda. Rather than people attacking Plaid maybe people should organise their own nationalist events and learn from the Basques and Catalans. There was talk of a pro indy rally in Cardiff. Is that still on?

Anonymous said...

The Welsh Independence rally is being held on 19th July 2014 (Sat) in Cardiff, the Facebook page for the event are on the link http://dailywales.net/2014/04/03/lets-rally-for-welsh-independence-this-summer/#idc-cover

Anonymous said...

I agree that initiatives outside the parties are a great idea. A pro-indy rally would be an eye opener. However it's a big ask for alot of people to support Welsh indy. Other rallies could also be effective like; a rally for Welsh control over resources. A rally for Welsh medium education for all. There are lots of nationalist topics other than independence and you can build support for different ideas ('transitional demands'). It's a big leap for alot of people to support an independent Wales in one go. This is a country that in some people's minds does not exist that tangibly.

I agree with not slagging off Plaid Cymru. They need to try and govern the country and "independence tomorrow" or even soon isn't really going to achieve that. I think MH has said before that there are a couple of stops along the way to independence, and it gets easier (not harder) as Wales becomes more confident as a nation and as it becomes more obvious that politics here is separate to England/Westminster. This will take some time but Plaid Cymru and citizens initiatives are both necessary. In Scotland there is a thriving movement outside of/complementary to the SNP like National Collective, Radical Independence, Business for Yes, the Greens etc. This is important, but the SNP's electoral machine is also important. It is about building up forces and trying to find common ground.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends, here Basque information in English by Argia. We hope you will find it interesting.


Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news that the pro Indy event will go on 19 July. I think it's important that all pro indy people make a special effort to attend it.

There's no use complaining about Plaid, Wales, Labour etc. That's all people need to do is get down to Cardiff. And please, Cardiff people, take one afternoon off shopping in IKEA and show your colours.

Cardiff people please, offer your time to the Indy event organisers to get it going and to make it a good show.

Let's make this a positive, coming out for Welsh independence movement. No more apologising. We're a nation and we want to be a European nation state.

MH said...

I'm glad the story made it onto Radio Cymru, 12:07.

As for Plaid, I don't intend to slag my party off either. I just want to make the point that we do not need to rely on any political party to set the agenda. Those of us who care enough to want to change things can set the agenda for ourselves ... and, if there are enough of us, Plaid and other parties will have no choice but to respond to the agenda we set.

As I said once before, it seems that in a Scottish context the agenda was more set from the top down by political parties like the SNP, rather than from the bottom up. So for me the most important development in Scotland has been the emergence of groups and projects such as those listed on this page. Groups like these are far more likely to win hearts and minds than politicians are. We in Wales need to be setting up these groups now.


I also agree completely with 15:43 that it is not just a matter of independence; it is about asserting our right as a nation to decide how we want to do all the things which matter to us. As s/he mentioned, this includes control of natural resources, education policy, language ... and things like how we are policed, how we get people into work, child poverty, etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

In Scotland the agenda was set from the top down *this time* but it has a long and varied history of being set from the bottom up or even, from the middle- from layers of 'educated' nationalist and devolutionist types. But grassroots groups are springing up and I think if there is a 'No' vote, and the SNP subsequently falls back electorally, the grassroots groups will keep going and that will be key to having another referendum later.

I am not being negative by saying Wales has no such history. There is a Welsh cultural movement connected to nationhood and the national consciousness but it isn't that obvious to the non-Welsh speaking citizens. We are some way behind Scotland but need to develop a national agenda.

I am not convinced independence is the *right* demand at this stage but there is nothing really to lose and no reason not to declare that this is an issue and some of us want it. Independence is also so far in the future (not in a pessimistic way but purely because of the difficulty of winning elections and holding a vote) that things may happen in the meantime that make it harder than it should be, like the unnecessary super-prison in Wrecsam.

MH said...

There's a good explanatory piece on Nationalia by Ricard Vilaregut. Well worth reading.

I was particularly struck by this:

"The key to success is the desire to become a local, pluralistic, participatory initiative, totally detached from any political party, and enhancing the autonomy of locally self-organized groups."

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