The views expressed in this email and blog are those of the individuals whose name is attached to the posting. They do not represent a collective position of the WLG or the Labour Party
This week’s email bulletin and blog includes important information about our AGM and membership renewal, as well as the usual selection of interesting sources for further reading, and can be accessed on the blog site at any time here. The discussion piece this week tackles the issues of defending and taking forward the NHS in Wales as a socialist example of health, as opposed to the Tory neo-liberal English version.
Don’t forget to submit any relevant information, comments or blog posts of your own. You can also comment directly on the blog.
WLG AGM and other forthcoming events
The WLG annual conference and AGM will be taking place at the Welsh Institute of Sport, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Saturday, 27th October, between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm. The theme will be ‘Austerity and Public Services’ and the speakers will include Mark Drakeford AM. There will be a roundtable discussion about the challenges facing Labour councillors, which will include Cllrs. Uta Clay (Swansea), Siobhan Corria (Cardiff), Gareth Phillips (Bridgend), Jessica Powell (Torfaen) and Mark Whitcutt (Newport). At 2.00 p.m., we will be having a joint session with the Socialist Educational Association, addressed by Cllr. Julia Magill, Cardiff Council cabinet member for education.
As usual, a buffet lunch will be provided, so please let us know as soon as possible whether you plan to attend, for catering purposes.
Please send any motions for debate to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12.00 noon on Friday, 19th October and also any nominations (including self-nominations) for election to the steering committee (chair, vice-chair, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, & nine ordinary members) or as one of our two auditors. Some of us will be going for a drink and a meal after the meeting – all comrades are welcome to come along.
Your WLG membership is also now due for renewal for 2012/13. If you do not already pay by standing order, then you can either renew at the AGM or send a cheque for £5 (waged) or £3 (unwaged/low-waged), payable to ‘Welsh Labour Grassroots’, to Darren Williams, 33 Lansdowne Roiad, Cardiff CF5 1PQ. If you would like to set up a standing order, please email us to request details.
The final WLG meeting of the year will take place on Saturday, 1st December in County Hall, Swansea and our guest speaker will be Mark Seddon, former Labour NEC member and editor of Tribune.
On Monday 8th October, the WLG Cardiff & Vale group will be meeting at Transport House, Cardiff, beginning at 7.00 pm.
The same evening, there will also be a UNA/Amnesty International public meeting: Yolanda Foster (Amnesty South Asia Desk) on ‘Human Rights in Sri Lanka’. 7.00pm, Temple of Peace, Edward VII Avenue, Cathays Park, Cardiff. Free entry – all welcome.
On Thursday, 11th October, the World Development Movement Cardiff group will be presenting a free showing of the film, The Yes Men Fix the World, about two political activists/pranksters who lie their way into big business conferences by posing as corporate executives. 7.30pm at The Gate, Keppoch Street, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3JW (meet in the Café Bar from 7.00pm).
On Tuesday,16th October, CND Cymru will be holding an anti-Trident demo on the steps of the Senedd, Cardiff Bay from 12.00 noon with speakers including Labour AMs, Mark Drakeford, Mick Antoniw, Julie Morgan and Christine Chapman.
London Saturday 20th October must be in every member’s diary to get themselves, family, friends, brothers, sisters, comrades up to London for the TUC ‘A Future That Works’ demonstration. Everyone who wishes to see an end to this Tory government should attend and False Economy has details of transport from Wales here. Here is a link to the Coalition of Resistance leaflets with posters supporting the demonstration and the TUC has also produced a number of statements from people about why they are marching.
Last week we had an example of a motion that should go to all Labour Party branches supporting the 20th. Here is the Labour Representation Committee’s version.
Left Week – Len Arthur
The Labour Party conference has to be the start of any review of the week. Nick Davies, our WLG chair, spoke on the radio – 1hr 20 min 50 sec in - about Ed Miliband’s speech, emphasising the move from New Labour and elements the left can take forward. Seamas Milne writing in the Guardian pointed out the contrast with what Ed Miliband was saying and what Ed Balls had said in an earlier speech. Liam Byrne’s commitment to continue with welfare cuts could also be mentioned in the same context. Socialist Worker had a good left critique pointing out that the unions, migrants and the unemployed came in for short shrift. This analysis from the Blairite leaning Labour List is an indication that they do not quite see that New Labour has been left behind – so to speak.
It was undoubtedly an impressive feat to speak without notes, effectively attack the Tories, and pull it off. But it still leaves Ed Miliband trying to ride a politically disparate Labour Party, when the weaknesses of capitalism are there for all to see and the door is open for radical change. International socialists are part of the international working class, we have more in common with the workers in Greece and Spain than the rich of the UK, the fight of all workers is our fight, their victory our victory. The danger of seeing such a view as a ‘sectional interest’, is that you become a prisoner of the section that dominates our society: capitalism and its supporters and in the worst-case scenario starts to look like this. Ralph Miliband, Ed’s dad, argued that one of the key weaknesses of Labour was its lack of socialist internationalism: Ed should get a version on his book shelf.
Other events this week that you may have missed include this fantastic UK Uncut protest at the dinner where corporate tax advisers – possibly with tears in their eyes – said happy retirement to David Hartnett who has just left heading up UK tax: yes he who set aside legal advice to allow Vodafone to gain up to £6bn from tax avoidance. Disabled campaigners have launched a petition we can all sign against the Atos assessment process. Chicago teachers have won a victory to defend their contract and public sector education. The TUC reports that based upon published information including that of the Office of Budget Responsibility, workers are only a quarter of the way through a 12 year loss of real wages. By 2021 the indicators show that those on the median wage will have lost £8,500 in wages.On the information front, Michael Roberts continues with his excellent Marxist analysis of the current crisis, in this one taking apart the arguments that austerity can work. Open Democracy have produced an analysis showing how the BBC stifled criticism of the Tories’ NHS privatisation bill as it coursed through Parliament. The ever more right-wing New Statesman surprisingly this week produced an analysis of the amount of money we pay in state aid to the aristocracy through farm subsidies: useful stuff to make the point about who are the real scroungers and sectional interests. Finally you may like to find time to look at a film; ‘Inside Job’ is a documentary about the 2008 financial crisis which is getting extremely good reviews.
The UK Labour Party website is here. Conference has been covered above but you may like to look at the Left Futures blog where there is a comprehensive left view with additional discussion and analysis.
The Welsh Labour website is here. For us in Wales at the moment there is the question of campaigning and voting in the police commission elections. It is very difficult to drum up enthusiasm for a policy that first surfaced as a UKIP one in 2005! However, the power that these people will hold will be extensive and largely beyond the weak democratic control that currently exists. A low turnout could deliver this power to some very right-wing candidates: a frightening prospect. Should we on the left take these elections more seriously? Finally, Owen Smith, shadow secretary of state provides his take on what One Nation Labour might mean in Wales.
All the best
Darren Williams WLG SecretaryLen Arthur WLG Assistant Secretary