Why Socialist Labour?

Emblem_79I’ve been getting a lot of stick about my posts commending the Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party – and incredulity that I represent the Socialist Labour Party – though not a member.

Let me explain.

Whilst I do agree with most aspirations of the Green and Socialist Labour Parties and Plaid Cymru, I have not joined any party – because, were I to do so, it would imply that I disagreed with the others.

In practice, for the past quarter of a century I have worked with like-minded individuals of all parties – although, in 1992, I did contest in Torfaen as a joint candidate of the Green Party and Plaid Cymru (and I might well have done so again in 2015 had I been asked).

I had no plan to be a candidate this time round until, a few weeks ago, Torfaen Labour Party selected its candidate – a ‘safe hands’ choice who is not likely ever to oppose party policy. About the same time, I learnt that (for personal reasons) neither the Green Party nor the Plaid Cymru candidate would be active in Torfaen during the election. At that point I began to think about standing.

Initially I thought to stand as an independent “against austerity and Trident renewal”. But once I learnt that the “Socialist Labour Party” would back me, I thought this a better option (“Socialist Labour” is a fair description of my views). Moreover, those members of the “Socialist Labour Party” that I know all seem closer to the spirit of the post-war Labour Party than most of its current members.

The 40+ posts of this blog detail many of my political views. To appreciate all my politics you need to read all of these posts. But here’s a brief summary of relevance to why I am standing:

  • I believe the 1945-51 Labour government did well to nationalise Britain’s basic industries, create the NHS and provide free education for everyone. This was not socialism but it laid the foundations for a more just society.
  • The Tories have been destroying these foundations ever since 1951. They believe the function of economic activity is to profit the owners of capital. To them, peoples’ health and wellbeing, housing and education are little more than opportunities for rich people to get richer.
  • The millionaire-owned mass media have been relentless in promoting Tory ideology since 1951 and, in response, Labour has moved so far that they are now more right-wing on most issues than Edward Heath’s Tory government. Nonetheless Labour remains the better option because, during this same period, the Tories have moved even further to the right.
  • Meanwhile, most people have become generally more enlightened in respect to the environment, race relations, gays, religion, etc. and, in consequence, most people are noticeably more leftwards-looking than Labour.
  • Labour’s rightwards drift is the underlying reason for the growing support for alternative parties of the left – all of whom have more in common with the post-war Labour Party than Labour’s present leadership.
  • The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and various small socialist parties are the modern-day equivalent of the disparate socialist, nationalist and green-minded groups that founded the Labour Party over a century ago. That’s why I support them.
  • The Labour Party, whilst still preferable to the Tories, needs to face challenges from the left. Many members of the Labour Party agree.
  • That’s where I come in.

Green is OK too

Climate not tridentI support all green aspirations and, if you don’t vote for John Cox, I would be happy for you to vote for the Green Party.

My reservations about the Green Party are strategic. Without compulsion I don’t think multinationals will agree to help alleviate climate change and pollution.

The ethos of capitalism is to make quick money and, through their power and influence and control of the mass media, the richest 1% are able to thwart any half-hearted green proposals. To achieve green aspirations, we have to mount a fundamental challenge to their ability to exploit people as well as the environment.

One aspect of the European Union is that it curbs unethical behaviour – which is why big business has bankrolled UKIP and why the millionaire-owned media promotes UKIP policies. But the EU only imposes puny restrictions – just imagine the reaction if they imposed measures to prevent climate change and halt all pollution.

To see the human race through to the next century, governments not only have to take over the “commanding heights of the economy” (Nye Bevan) but also impose effective curbs on capitalist enterprises. Despite this need to impose draconian measures, the Green Party itself remains unwilling to become a socialist party.

The Green Party is thin on the ground in Torfaen and few electors will have received even a leaflet. But if you’re not yet ready to vote socialist but impressed by the Green Party speakers on TV, do go ahead and vote green.

Plaid Cymru is OK

Plaid Cymru symbol Apart from on one specific issue, I haven’t criticised Plaid Cymru in my posts and, if you’re not going to vote for John Cox, I will be quite happy for you to vote Plaid Cymru.

Plaid’s policies for ending austerity and not renewing Trident accord with mine and they also have equally sensible policies on nationalisation and most green issues. My only serious criticism, which I have voiced already in this blog, is their opportunist blurring of their conference policy against nuclear power in the hope that this will win them votes in Ynys Mon and Arfon.

The stumbling block for many voters is “independence” – their long-term objective. I have an open mind on this but it is not an immediate issue and will remain an irrelevance until such time as at least 40% of the Welsh electorate support it.

In the meantime, supporters and opponents of “independence” alike should support Wales having parity with Scotland in respect to finance and government. The current arrangements amount to gross discrimination against Wales (which, let it be said, is the surest way to stimulate separatist ideas whilst Scotland forges ahead with a far better settlement).

Plaid Cymru plays a positive and progressive role in Welsh political life and in the anti-nuclear and anti-austerity alliance with the Green Party and SNP. I would be very comfortable if it wins a respectable vote on 7th May – although I think voting for John Cox would send a far clearer signal to Labour about where they are failing.

[Tomorrow – Green is OK too]

Labour is better

John CoxMany of my posts are critical of Labour – for having similar or even identical policies to the Tories. Despite these criticisms, I still believe a Labour government would be infinitely preferable to a continuation of Tory rule.

For the record, here are some Labour policies that (if you’re not ready to vote for John Cox or the Socialist Labour Party) are good reasons for voting Labour:

Repealing the Bedroom Tax, Imposing new rent controls, Raising the minimum wage (preferably to at least the “living” wage), Improved child care, Extra apprenticeships, Ending NomDom tax evasion, Scrapping the House of Lords, Ending the badger cull, Extending marine protection zones – and many more.

If I lived in a constituency where the contest is between Labour and any of the Tory and quasi-Tory parties, I would unhesitatingly vote Labour – despite Labour’s addiction to nuclear weapons and their refusal to reverse Tory spending cuts.

Fortunately, there is zero possibility of a Tory/LibDem/UKIP victory in Torfaen – so electors can vote for even better policies.  

Labour (and Conservatives) ignore major conference on disarmament (28th April)

http://www.cnduk.org/index.php?option=com_acymailing&no_html=1&ctrl=url&urlid=40380&mailid=544&subid=17557 In a landmark foreign policy speech at Chatham House, Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged commitment to multilateralism and global institutions (good). But he reiterated Labour’s support for Britain retaining nuclear weapons and said nothing whatsoever about multilateral disarmament or a global ban on nuclear weapons.

The media news is all about his criticism of the Conservatives for lack of post-conflict planning following the 2011 bombing campaign in Libya and the ensuing migrant crisis – a war that Labour backed. But if they are in favour of multilateralism and international institution-building, neither party should have got Britain involved in disastrous and bloody misadventures: from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya.

The one concrete message in Ed’s speech is that Labour will spend up to £100bn to ensure Britain is a nuclear-armed state for the next 30-40 years – despite a majority of Labour’s candidates voicing their opposition.

Although he claims to be ‘a disarmer’, Ed’s multilateralism is confined to seeking allies to achieve military solutions to deal with ISIS and the crisis in Ukraine. Ed offered nothing in the way of multilateral commitments on disarmament – a hypocritical and muddled stance, big on admirable rhetoric and light on substance.

Yet, world leaders are meeting at the UN for the largest global conference on nuclear disarmament for the past 5 years – and this was not even mentioned.

All their talk is about being tough on defence. If Ed Miliband really wants to show he’s tough, he should commit to scrapping Trident and kickstarting real progress on global nuclear disarmament.’

Demonstration at the Senedd – “No to Opencast at Varteg”

Campaigners from Torfaen took part today in a demonstration on the steps of the National Assembly Senedd buildingOpen castThe demonstration was in support of a CROSS PARTY MOTION in the National Assembly, opened by our AM Lynne Neagle and was previewed by sympathetic articles and letters in the Western Mail and The Guardian. I read out a message from Lynne Neagle to the demonstration.

The motion was co-sponsored by Bethan Jenkins Plaid Cymru, Lynne Neagle Labour, William Graham Con. William Powell Lib Dem and carried by 30 votes to zero votes against but with 16 abstensions. You can read the full transcript of the debate or watch the video here (from about 2.20 pm that day) – see  http://www.assembly.wales/en/bus-home/pages/rop.aspx?meetingid=3157&assembly=4&c=Record of Proceedings#211742

The motion read: The National Assembly for Wales calls upon the Welsh Government to:

a. Instigate a moratorium on opencast mining across Wales, in order to ascertain whether planning law and current guidance provides sufficient protection for communities affected by opencast mining;

b. Respond to the Research into the Failure to Restore Opencast Coal Sites in South Wales, stating specifically how it might address concerns about the workability of MTAN2 and the 500m buffer zone;

c. Support affected Local Authorities to make legal challenges where required, when pursing restoration.