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This week’s blog – number 10 - follows on from a collective sigh of relief that we do not have to cope with President Romney, but that we still face the cold reality of fighting international capital’s ‘austerity’ onslaught. Below are some pieces about how socialists who stood locally in the US fared and also, how they now read their situation and the dangerous fudge that is likely to emerge from the ‘fiscal cliff’ debate.
The Labour Representation Committee, to which Welsh Labour Grassroots is affiliated, held its annual conference on Saturday 10 November and we provide a report below. The practical realities of resisting austerity and taking a socialist alternative forward were key issues at this conference and overlap with those raised at our WLG conference two weeks earlier. Our discussion piece last week – which has become a bit of a hit on our blog – has taken the dialogue forward and in this week’s we explore the extent to which diverse forms of resistance can be brought together.
Don’t forget our regular WLG email and blog is available accessible on the web here.
Tomorrow, Saturday, 17th November, there will be emergency demonstrations around the UK in solidarity with the people of Gaza, including at these locations in Wales:
· Cardiff – 2.00 pm, Aneurin Bevan Statue, Queen Street
· Swansea – 2.00 pm, Castle Square
· Wrexham - 12.30 pm, Hope Street
Also tomorrow, in London, the Socialist Educational Association and other progressive educational campaign groups are holding a conference called ‘Picking up the Pieces after Gove’, 9.45 am – 4.00pm at Camden Centre, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE.
Cardiff Trades Council is organising a meeting as a follow up to the TUC demonstration on how to come together to fight the politics and policies of austerity. This takes place at 6.30 pm on Monday 19 November at the Holiday Inn, Castle St Cardiff. Here is the Facebook link with the details and facility to indicate that you are coming.
On Tuesday 20th November, UNA Cardiff & District branch will be holding a meeting on the theme, ‘Limits to Growth, a Global Problem?’ with Phil Kingston (justice and peace campaigner) and Pippa Bartolotti (Green Party). 7.00pm at the Temple of Peace, King Edward VII Avenue, Cathays Park, Cardiff. Free entry – all welcome. The next WLG meeting will take place on Saturday 1st December at Swansea Civic Centre (11.00am-1.00 pm) with Mark Seddon as guest speaker.
Left Week – Len Arthur
Well I started this bit with the US Presidential elections but had to cover the 14 November ETUC day of action. We have also, in the last couple of days, seen the latest murderous Israeli onslaught against the people of Gaza. And we’ve had the police commissioner elections – results of which are still coming in – and the Cardiff South & Penarth by-election, where Labour has retained the seat. We will comment on these developments in next week’s bulletin and blog.
The US Presidential elections have to be part of a look at last week. Coverage has been huge but via ZCommunications you may be interested in these two pieces by US socialists on how they read their situation at the start of Obama’s second term. First, Shamus Cooke explores the ‘fiscal cliff’ debate which will present a crunch situation for Obama and the Democrats in challenging the neo-liberal onslaught on the US working class. Second, is by Jack Rasmus who looks at the extent of the working class vote for Obama, indicating that, despite all the money thrown at the election by the right, workers have the power and ability to think and act differently. Karl Rove - sometime advisor to the last Bush and now a political consultant to Fox and the Republicans - could not accept the reality of the results trend toward Obama and went into meltdown, delightfully caught by the Simpsons cartoon and TV commentator Jon Stewart. Closer to home, Michael Roberts provides a Marxist look at just how deep is the US economic crisis. Finally - in German, but click the translation button if you wish - the European Left report on the sizeable votes for socialists that stood at the local US elections, indicating that some seismic shifts of politics are possibly emerging from the current crisis.
Some other bits of news you may not have picked up from the usual sources as they perhaps are not ‘new’ but certainly have not gone away. From my CND background I’m familiar with the white poppy as the peace movement’s alternative to the red and a number of people who saw my Facebook posting expressed an interest so here is the background information again. Regional pay proposals emanating from the Tories are a threat to living standards and the economy - a point made well by a recent press briefing from Unison.
The New Economics Foundation returns to the issue of ‘peak oil’ but with a different analysis, indicating how it can put a glass ceiling on economic recovery. Left Futures blog updates the awful plight of the people of Ireland under the hammer of austerity, showing that, as people like Michael Roberts have argued, the real aim is to shift wealth from workers to profits. The Bank of England appears to have thrown in the towel according to Duncan Weldon on the TUC’s Touchstone blog. And finally, Michael himself has just updated his engagement with the Marxist debate about the economy which, as ever, is well worth a read.
As I write, not only have we had the news about the fixing of gas prices, but the financial pages of the Guardian over recent weeks have provided ever more evidence of just how bankrupt is the capitalist system under which we live. To take the headlines from just one day (2 November): ‘Comet plunged into chaos as suppliers commandeer stock’; ‘Sharp fears for future amid predictions of $5.6bn [full year loss] slump’; ‘Thinktank says global collapse in demand will cut UK growth’; MP [Tory chair of Treasury select committee] criticises Bank’s [of England] ‘defective governance’ ; ‘Lloyds adds £1bn to costs of PPI payback’: says it all really. Yes, it seems, we do need to fight capitalism!
Left roundup: Labour Representation Committee 2012 conference
Here is LRC conference report that I have just lifted from their latest email – see the innovative TV section with excellent debates:
Over 200 LRC members and delegates from affiliated organisations attended the annual conference on Saturday 10 November at Conway Hall in London. In the morning session, conference passed the National Committee statement moved by John McDonnell MP, which set out 14 action points for the incoming National Committee to take forward. This was followed by an impromptu speech from Tony Benn (watch John and Tony’s speeches here).
LRC Conference TV:
Conference voted to endorse the decision of the outgoing National Committee to adopt Labour Briefing, after its readers voted to transfer the magazine to the LRC. Read more here: http://www.labourbriefing.org.uk/ . The December issue of Labour Briefing will be out shortly, with campaign news on the NHS, abortion rights, adult social care, tackling racism in football, the prospects for a general strike, industrial action campaigns, full reports from LRC and Welsh Labour Grassroots AGMs, and reports from the US, Nicargua and Europe – and much more. Take out a Labour Briefing subscription today to receive the December issue.
And closer to home here is Darren’s report, taken from his Facebook posting:
Really good LRC conference in London yesterday. There was a particularly interesting panel discussion involving councillors from Broxtowe (Notts), Preston, Hull and Islington, who spoke about their different approaches to the cuts. The Broxtowe and Hull councillors had taken a straightforward 'no cuts' decision and had voted against the whip in doing so; those from Islington and Preston were trying to minimise the impact of the cuts on the most vital services but had made cuts in some areas, including (in Islington) redundancies. Despite the differing approaches, all impressed with their sincerity and commitment. The conference was also attended by George Barratt, a Barking & Dagenham councillor who has been expelled from the party after breaking the whip over cuts and is now an independent, while a message was read out from Kingsley Abrams, a Lambeth councillor who was suspended after he too voted against cuts but has now reluctantly decided to accept the whip after feeling isolated and marginalised for several months.
There are hugely important issues here about principles, strategy and tactics that we need to discuss much more thoroughly as a left. It’s been suggested that WLG hold a day school on local government issues, building on the panel discussion we had at our AGM recently; personally, I think we should try to do that early int he New Year, and invite a couple of the councillors who spoke yesterday along and talk about their experiences.
A slightly more critical review of the conference is from Jon Lansman
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.
Perhaps some insight into where Ed Miliband is going is this piece by Maurice Glasman posted on Labour List – so not much of a challenge to capitalism there, then!
All the best
Darren Williams WLG Secretary
Len Arthur WLG Assistant Secretary