Neil McEvoy AM
On Friday at 6.30pm I’ll be in the Royal Celtic Hotel in Caernarfon speaking at Propel Wales’ first public meeting in the north of the country.
The need for individual, community and national sovereignty has never been clearer than when I’m in the north.
One of the main driving forces behind forming Propel was Gwynedd and its Local Development Plan.
I’d been through the experience of having an LDP forced through in Cardiff that is currently trashing green fields and will lead to thousands of extra cars on the roads.
The Labour council responsible had been elected campaigning to protect green fields.
In Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru run the council, the LDP was at least met by fierce resistance.
I don’t blame the councillors in Gwynedd. The problem is the planning system and the lack of community control.
The answer is simple. We need to decentralise power in Wales in a big way. That’s not just some throw away idea about empowering people. Propel is completely serious about it.
We need to take powers that are held in Cardiff and London and give them to local councils instead.
That means local authorities deciding on their planning needs, not being forced into it by a planning inspectorate in England and planning law decided by Labour in Cardiff.
But more than that we need to give people in all parts of Wales the power to reject the things they don’t want and push through the things they do want.
The way to do this is to give communities binding referendums on Local Development Plans. If they say “no”, then the plans would need to be revised. And let’s introduce a Welsh people’s initiative.
I sit on the petition’s committee in the National Assembly. If 5,000 people sign a petition then we can bring about a debate in plenary in the Assembly.
But those debates can then be ignored by the government, as has happened with every petition that has made it that far.
How about if 100,000 people sign, there can be a referendum? Switzerland already does this and there’s no reason Wales can’t too.
We’d need the constitution and bill of rights first to ensure that no referendums can be used to target individuals and minorities.
And in order to really give sovereignty to communities, let’s introduce the power of recall. If a politician has clearly broken a pre-election commitment or if they are judged to have seriously breached the code of conduct they are held to, then recall should be available, if enough people sign up to one.
If the power of recall was available then we could finally do something about the age-old problem of politicians promising one thing to get elected and then doing the opposite once they get there.
As important as community sovreignty is the issue of the rights of individuals.
It was of course an Assembly Member from north Wales, Carl Sargeant, who tragically took his own life after anonymous complaints were made against him in November of last year.
Sargeant’s case raises real issues about the culture within the Labour-run Welsh Government.
We’re in a situation now where the family of Carl Sargeant is threatening judicial review so that the First Minister has to answer questions about Carl Sargeant’s death.
These complaints were not investigated, proven, or even written down. And yet he was sacked from his job as a Cabinet Secretary.
The case of Carl Sargeant has made it clear that individual freedom and the rights of individuals need a greater focus.
While we await the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s final days, this case does highlight a danger.
It cannot be right that a person can have their good name dragged through the mud without even an allegation ever being written down.
To ensure justice for both those who have genuine complaints and the accused, we must ensure that there is no scope for complaints to be misused.
This is exactly why we need a Welsh constitution and a Welsh bill of rights in order protect us all. While we must protect those who have genuine complaints, in some cases, the accused can also be a victim.
There are so many reasons to push for Welsh national sovereignty.
One of the greatest issues facing our country at the moment is urban gangs from big cities such as Manchester and Liverpool sending young people into the north of Wales to act as runners.
Urban gangs in England are getting children hooked on drugs, extracting both money from the north of Wales and any hope for the kids’ future.
But what can we do about it? Even though policing is devolved to some cities in England it has been refused to Wales.
And we’re not allowed to have our own legal system. If we did then we could come down hard on those gangs.
Drugs policy isn’t devolved either, meaning we can’t legalise the use of some drugs for medicinal purposes to stop people needing to go to gangs for medication.
Safe injection rooms would help too, but Labour won’t allow it.
Providing a place for people to do hard drugs is not really anyone’s cup of tea, but it gives us a chance to provide treatment to those drugs users and support them to get their life back on track.
It’s no surprise that the areas that suffer most from drugs are deprived, formally industrial areas where unemployment has been the norm for decades.
But most financial and economic powers aren’t devolved to Wales so it’s harder to create jobs that would offer people better life choices.
If they were, we could reindustrialise Wales for the 21st Century.
It’s an exciting time for Plaid with talk of a leadership contest. That’s already energising the party and getting people active.
I recently held the first debate in the National Assembly on Welsh sovereignty.
Not many AMs turned up but it was really encouraging to see Llyr Huws Gruffydd join the debate and make a strong case for sovereignty.
Rhun ap Iorwerth also came to the debate and has been very vocal on twitter recently in calling for independence.
I believe that Propel and Yes Cymru have played significant parts in bringing about this change. Yes Cymru is going from strength to strength and is unashamed in calling for Welsh independence.
What’s powerful about it is that it does it without being allied to any particular party or political ideology.
And Propel has confidently made national sovereignty one of its three founding principles and is absolutely upfront about our ambitions for Wales.
Propel is allied to Plaid Cymru and will play its positive part in delivering a Plaid Cymru government.
We need Yes Cymru pushing for sovereignty in a non-partisan way and Propel to make sure that Plaid takes forward the principles of individual, community and national sovereignty.
If you want to hear more I’ll be speaking at Propel’s first north Wales event at 6:30pm in the Royal Celtic Hotel in Caernarfon on 22nd June.
I encourage you to come to along to hear about our ideas for a strong, confident and united Wales.