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Use it or lose it?

Betsan Powys | 13:34 UK time, Monday, 9 March 2009

Who came up with the phrase "Use it or lose it"?

Hands up, I don't know. If I'd taken the advice it offers and always kept my brain switched on, no doubt I would know but there you go. So why does it come to mind today?

Because Plaid have made clear their determination to use the word 'Independence', to use it, to discuss it and to promote what the party believes independence would mean for Wales. They tried not using it some years ago. What happened? Their opponents did and it was Plaid who lost out.

So in 2003 the party renewed its vows with the long-term aim of independence. Shying away was out: using the 'i' word was in.

Plaid Ministers "did it" on the party conference stage. Both Elin Jones and Jocelyn Davies used the independence word in their speeches in Newport last year. Advisers were around to check whether the use of the 'i' word had been spotted and how it had gone down.

Adam Price "did it" on his blog last August, arguing that Plaid ought to reclaim the word, ought to lead the debate about what independence means and that only by laying out the arguments could the party "create a new generation of nationalists ... I fear that any attempts, however well-meaning, to obscure our nationalism in order to avoid 'frightening the horses' would be seen as devious at a time when honest politics is at a premium".

Is honesty the best policy? When the state of the economy is frightening ordinary people, you may think it's time to batten down the hatches and brace yourselves to deal with next week's supplementary budget, next month's factory closure, the next quarterly bills. You may argue that Ieuan Wyn Jones should have no time or appetite to write articles for online campaigns on an issue where there is, as Adam Price put it himself, "a credibility gap in one sense". But with this campaign Plaid are saying otherwise, that's it is absolutely the time to ask big, difficult questions about the next twenty years even if they're not being asked in the pub and in the chip shop.

So once again, is honesty the best policy? See for yourself. The online campaign is called Wales Can - no need to ask who came up with the phrase that inspired that domain name. Gall Cymru loses a little Obama-something in translation. Both sites pitch to the "independence generation" a Wales that's an independent EU member state. The goal? To achieve majority support for independence within 20 years. In other words they're after the younger generation. With apologies to most of those who comment on this blog, I'm guessing that with some exceptions, that's not you. Nothing personal: I'm out too.

So a campaign designed to talk up independence? Go online and care of Plaid you'll now find one of those.

A campaign designed to bring about a no vote in a referendum on further powers? Go online and care of True Wales you'll find one of those too.

But a campaign for a yes vote in a referendum on further powers - the deal that will be on the table if any at all? No chance.


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