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July 09: Nick Davies, chair of Welsh Labour Grassroots, gives his views of the Labour Euro-election disaster in Wales and reports on the conference ‘Wales and the Ecomomic Crisis’.

Euro-elections in Wales

The Tories have come first in an election in Wales for the first time since 1859, with 21.21% of the vote. The real story is not a Tory landslide but of Labour’s collapse. Losing an election in Wales for the first time since 1918, Labour’s vote plummeted by 12.2% to 20.28%.

It isn’t difficult to  guess the reasons. A recession, ministers plotting against each other, and, of course, the expenses scandal. What these have in common is that they all the fault of Westminster.  However, Peter Hain has wasted no time in declaring that these results show that Welsh Labour ‘has to change’. This is a scarcely veiled attack on Welsh Labour’s ‘Clear Red Water’ agenda which avoids the market-driven policies that have alienated so many voters in England. The problem is that Welsh Labour observes a form of devolution etiquette by refusing to distance itself from New Labour, trying to achieve a kind of ‘socialism by stealth’. Many of Welsh Labour’s progressive policies are still bedding in, their benefits not yet apparent, and go unreported by the media.

It is therefore all the more important that every socialist in Wales, or anyone interested in Welsh devolution should read Clear Red Water, a timely examination of the strengths and weaknesses of Welsh Labour and the Welsh devolution process.

Morning Star Conference: Wales and the Economic Crisis

A central argument of Clear Red Water is that socialists in Wales must set aside the destructive tribalism by which socialists in the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, instead of collaborating on where they can agree, barely speak to each other. An important step towards bringing this about was taken on 13 June.  Both the authors of Clear Red water were participants in a Conference: ‘Wales and the Economic Crisis’ organised by the Morning Star. Speakers included Welsh Labour Assembly Members Christine Chapman and John Griffiths and Plaid AMs Bethan Jenkins and Leanne Wood.

The conference looked at the loss of jobs and the resulting insecurity and social dislocation, and at the disaffection with mainstream politics, and especially with Labour, expressed in the European elections. Speakers from the GMB, Community and PCS unions called for more robust employment rights, stronger support for manufacturing and an end to privatisation. Several speakers acknowledged that reconstruction had to follow a more sustainable model than before.

There was greatest consensus about the need for the Assembly to take on stronger powers and for the left to play an active role in securing a ‘yes’ vote in the promised referendum. The people of Wales will be persuaded to support deeper devolution only if it is clear that it will make a real difference to their lives. It is important that the left continues the discussion as to how it can contribute to this objective.

Nick Davies is the chair of Welsh Labour Grassroots and the co-author of Clear Red Water: Welsh Devolution and Socialist Politics.

Click here for more information about Clear Red Water: Welsh Devolution and Socialist Politics

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Events
Regular Cornish language classes with Mick Paynter.

London. The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery permanent exhibition of women in medicine.

First Sunday of every month, Redruth. Shout with the Red River singers.

Second Wednesday of every month, Luxulyan. Prys Ton – Cornish Music Session.

Until 6 January 2018, Southend. Exhibition – From Mile End to Mayfair: The East London Group & their contemporaries.

until 17 December 2017, Bow, London. Exhibition – The Working Artist: The East London Group.

20 October 2017, Penryn, Cornwall. Cornish songs from the Red River Singers at the National Dialect Festival 2017.

20–22 October 2017, Penryn, Cornwall. National Dialect Festival 2017.

25 October 2017, Bangor Universoty. Cyflwyno The Old Red Tongue / Introducing The Old Red Tongue.

2 November 2017, St Columb Major, Cornwall. Hark! A talk about Cornish carols by Sally Burley and Hilary Coleman.

9 November 2017, Bodmin, Cornwall. Talk by Paul Holden on the architect Richard Coad.

16 November 2017, Liskeard, Cornwall. Paul Holden gives the Inaugural George Vaughan-Ellis RIBA Memorial Lecture.

26 November 2017, Heartlands, Cornwall. Red River Singers at the Weekend Market.

29 November 2017, London. Paul Holden talk on Princes to Paupers: portraiture in the Lanhydrock photographic collection.

14 December 2017, Bodmin, Cornwall. Shout at Picrous Night.

22 December 2017, St Day, Cornwall. Carols with the red River Singers and the Carharrack & St Day Silver Band.

24 December 2017, Tregajorran, Cornwall. Christmas Eve carols in the Square.

29 November 2017, London. Paul Holden talk on “Estate Mapping at its Finest”: the Lanhydrock Atlas, 1696.