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Young people at the forefront of Welsh independence movement

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Young people are at the sharpest end of Welsh nationalism

The giant strides of the Welsh independence movement this year has finally grabbed the full attention of the British mainstream media, which would otherwise prefer to ignore this phenomenon.

The BBC ran a short documentary on Welsh independence yesterday, with a focus on the role of young people in the movement.

The BBC Wales political reporter, Teleri Glyn, ostensibly tries to understand what is driving young Welsh people toward independence by interviewing niche groups, notably Cardiff University’s Independence Society.

Despite the veneer of objectivity, Glyn’s report tries to downplay the momentum toward Welsh independence by creating a generational schism between the young and old in Wales.

The older people she interviews for the report all happen to be strongly opposed to independence thus creating the impression that Welsh nationalism is a transient phenomenon largely confined to the youth. 

The BBC’s barely concealed misconceptions, or distortions as some might argue, stands in stark contrast to reporting by less mainstream media.

Four months ago, Vice News ran a features story on the issue of Welsh independence with a particular focus on the role of young people in it.

Entitled “Welsh Independence Has Gone Mainstream”, and published on May 24, 2019, the story showcases specific youth-based groups who are at the sharpest end of the independence movement.

One such group, the “Welsh Independence Memes for Angry Welsh Teens”, has a strong online presence, boasting more than 17,500 followers on Facebook.

Vice also showcases “Sianel Pump” a YouTube channel targeting a youth/young adult audience, which was launched by the Welsh language broadcaster S4C back in 2016.

Sianel Pump’s success led to the development of “Hansh”, a pro-independence, Welsh-language YouTube channel for the youth whose video contents regularly get tens of thousands of views.

The focus on young people in the Welsh independence movement is unfolding against a backdrop of a dramatic rise in nationalist sentiment in Wales.

So far this year there have been three large pro-independence rallies, the first in Cardiff (May), the second in Caernarfon (July) and the last in Merthyr Tydfil earlier this month.

According to the latest YouGov opinion poll, conducted between 6-10 September, and with a sample size of 1039 people, 24 percent of respondents said they would vote for an independent Wales if there was a referendum tomorrow.

The support for separation from the UK jumps to 33 percent if Welsh independence also entailed staying within the European Union.

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