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[I hesitate to say ‘this week’s blog’ as there has been a gap of a couple of weeks whilst we enjoyed the presence of our daughter’s family from NZ. Strictly speaking though, this is now the blog – No 11 - that belongs to this week! – Len]
Since the last blog we have experienced a number of ‘turns of the screw’: the attack on Gaza, the proposed Israeli West Bank settlement as a response to the UN vote on Palestine; the Tories continuing to do the bidding of the rich media barons in their response to Leveson and everyone avoiding the question of media ownership domination; and finally the Autumn budget statement where the Tories hit the poor and trade unions and announced faux initiatives to be lapped up by their rich friends and the right wing press. And yet, reason enough not to be pessimistic if you are an internationalist, as fightbacks continue around the world in a historical period where it is increasingly clear ‘their fight is our fight’ wherever it takes place.
In our own way as WLG we have been talking and thinking through how relate to these events and, in particular, how to respond the political and economic consequences in Wales. Following on from the excellent AGM on 27 October – reported in the last blog - the WLG meeting in Swansea on Saturday 1 December broadened the discussion. Mark Seddon laid the ground for a general debate, which is followed through in this week’s discussion section, and members raised key issues derived from their experiences covering the growing housing crisis; how Labour councillors could resist the cuts; and serious questioning of the Welsh Government’s intentions over education and health. We will take these concerns to the Welsh Labour policy forum on the 8 December and we are in the process of preparing a draft motion for the Welsh Labour conference early next year. When finalised, we can use it to launch debates in branches and constituencies around Wales.
Our next WLG meeting will concentrate on how Labour councillors can fight the cuts and will take place in Cardiff on 26 January. Councillors and all members and supporters who are interested are most welcome.
Saturday, 8 December: UK Uncut! Direct action for tax justice, 12.00 noon at the Aneurin Bevan statute, Queen Street, Cardiff
Saturday, 15 December: Socialist Educational Association Cymru festive coffee morning (with refreshments) at 17 Gileston Road, CF11 9JS (off Cathedral Road), followed by a working lunch to discuss two important issues in Welsh education: (1) The proposal to keep GCSEs in Wales; and (2) The proposal to do away with LEAs and replace them with a smaller number of schoolboards.
Saturday, 26 January 2013 WLG day school on ‘Councils and the cuts’, 11.00 am-4.00 pm at the Welsh Institute of Sport, Cardiff. Further details to follow soon.
Left Week – Len Arthur
With such big events happening over the last 10 days or so, it is difficult to not plaster this bit with urls. So this week I’m concentrating on what are some of the best left budget responses. Next week I’ll try to pull together references to help us make sense of what is going on in Wales.
As ever, if you don’t mind a dense read, Michael Roberts is excellent in his budget analysis, placing what is going on within the context of the workings of capitalism. The New Economics Foundation provides a good follow up read. Acres have been written on the detail and the parliamentary political context but some of the more insightful have been in the New Statesman; the Independent; and of course the LRC’s response. Left Futures has a good analysis by Michael Meacher covering the murky, sham reality of Osborne’s statement on tax avoidance and on the same issue; the NEF has started to produce a series of videos on tax havens. An article in The Guardian on the ONS household survey ends with this: ‘An analysis by ONS reveals just how much real spending has fallen once inflation is taken into account. The figures reveal that real spending by households is running at 11% lower in real terms than at its peak in 2004 – 05. Adjusted for inflation, families spent £481 a week in 2011 compared to £541 in 2004 – 05. Current spending levels are now only at the level they were in 1996 – 97’. I.e the working class pays the cost! Under the cover of the budget statement, the Tories thought they could slip through the end of Remploy. I’m tempted to swear.
One or two other pieces I couldn’t resist from the Guardian about Leveson and the response from Liberty and this French statement from a leading member of the Socialist Party who has decided to leave the Party – same tensions, different country.
The UK Labour Party website is here and by the time you read this the election results will be out.
The Welsh Labour website is here.
Next week, concentrating on making sense of Welsh Labour and the Welsh Government, this section will be much expanded and will also cover an early report from the Welsh policy forum on Saturday.
All the best
Len Arthur WLG Assistant SecretaryDarren Williams WLG Secretary