Is the pandemic driving more support for Welsh independence?

Adrian, Ben & Claire
Adrian Masters hosts a lively debate on Welsh Independence in his latest podcast episode Credit: ITV Wales

Support for independence here in Wales is growing, according to the ITV Wales Welsh Political Barometer poll but it’s matched by the numbers who want to get rid of the Senedd altogether. 

When it comes to independence, there’s no doubting that it’s an increase compared to the stubborn 10% or so who have long backed breaking away from the UK whereas, at first glance anyway, those who want to abolish the Welsh Parliament are fewer than they were even ten years ago and certainly in the early years of devolution. 

That trajectory is pointed out by one of the guests in the latest episode of the ITV Wales podcast, The New Normal with Adrian Masters. 

Ben Gwalchmai says support for Welsh Independence is growing Credit: ITV Wales

Ben Gwalchmai, an artist and writer who co-founded Labour for Indy Wales, tells the podcast that not only has support for abolishing devolution halved over the last decade but over the same period the numbers backing independence have doubled within his own party, Labour.

That, he says, is a significant shift. Although Labour introduced devolution there were many opposed to it and if they became reconciled to devolution the vast majority were and remain implacably opposed to independence. No longer, Ben tells the podcast and he insists it’s not because of a simple response to Labour not being in power at Westminster, but  instead that people in the party are coming around to the view that the UK system has “so many structural faults” that it is actually broken.

It’s no surprise that the podcast’s other guest disagrees. She is Claire Mills who earlier this year became the first councillor for Abolish the Welsh Assembly party when she defected from the Conservatives. Yes, the party still has that name despite the Senedd formally becoming known as the Welsh Parliament. Abolish has plans for a slight name change but hasn’t yet done so. 

She too sees structural faults but with devolution, not the Westminster-based system of government. “It’s not Labour’s fault” she says of what she sees as the failings of the Senedd, “it is the institution.” 

The money it spends, she argues, “would be better directed at front-line services.”

Cllr Claire Mills wants to get rid of the Senedd Credit: ITV Wales

You can hear what they disagree on and what they agree on - which is not much apart from the frustrations of rural broadband - in the latest edition of the podcast. 

You’ll also learn about what an “internet patrol” is, why Tik-Tok scuppers meetings and the benefits of a standing desk. 

Listen to the full episode:

Shaun Bendle from That's Devolved also joins me on the podcast.

That's Devolved is a Twitter page, which gained thousands of followers for its work pointing out mistakes that the media and politicians made when speaking about devolved issues. The team behind it have been working particularly hard during the pandemic because understanding what rules apply to different parts of the UK is now more important than ever.

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