What could Wales be?

Question: Do you believe that Wales could be a country that doesn’t look to London for validation?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time for much of my adult life.

When I ran a culture magazine, I got to spend time with incredible artists, filmmakers, philosophers, authors, circus performers, producers and photographers.

When I worked in music, I helped to establish our national music prize and I spent large portions of my time in close communication with some of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen. I got to spend vast amounts of time with great cultural thinkers. I got to communicate with a wide range of brilliant journalists.

When I worked in higher education, I spoke and discussed ideas with luminescent academics — people, largely, for whom academia was more than tenure and an office of books but a living, breathing pursuit for making the world a better or at least a more understandable place.

When I started my company doopoll, I got to work with great people. I discovered a community of entrepreneurs. I engaged with individuals in healthcare, charity, education, global business, media, culture, and many more sectors who all have big ideas and are working towards a great future.

And all of this time, I have barely left Cardiff. I can only imagine how much more amazing our old country is when you factor in all the cities, towns, fields and farms.

We are a country. We have a language. Our national identity is so remarkably different from that of our next door neighbours. We have the cultural resources to rank among the world’s top countries in soft power. Our government is small and that is a good thing. Our law making power is still lacking but what we have works well. We are upholding at least some of the socialist tradition of caring for the weakest that Westminster has forgotten.

For the past year I have been on a personal journey of self realisation. I no longer identify with British. I belong to the UK because Wales doesn’t currently have a passport of its own. When people ask me where I am from, I say Wales and if they do not know where that is, I say that I am European.

But despite our national history and current position of power in every sector of life, the general sentiment still appears to be one of looking to London for validation, care or ideas.

Westminster does not care about you.

Political, economic and cultural change is coming no matter what the outcome of the next year of the future brings. And who can tell how that will all work out?

No matter. There is something that every one of us can do to realise the future of a strong, influential Wales with a global outlook and enough soft power to punch far and away above our geographical size.

Create something of a high quality and show it to the world, not just us. Begin to think globally in terms of how your business trades. Learn lessons from what other ‘small’ countries are doing to establish themselves. Have confidence in Wales’ ability to win at something other than rugby. Learn to speak Welsh or at least to speak some Welsh — and then use it. People will not judge you for trying.

If it sounds saccharine, that’s OK: but if you do not believe in Wales, nothing will change here.

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