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
In this bulletin:
1. WLG news: last meeting, forthcoming events & ongoing campaigns
2. Commentary: (i) The politics of hate; and (ii) NHS reorganisation or cuts
3. Discussion: Challenging Capitalism in the UK & Wales
WLG News – Darren Williams
A well-attended WLG meeting in Bridgend on Saturday 18th May had a very stimulating and topical discussion about the future of the NHS in Wales. Julian Tudor Hart explained how the attempt to commodify and ‘industrialise’ the service had undermined its original conception as a gift economy – a process that Wales had so far largely resisted. Tony Beddow outlined some of the difficult issues that needed to be addressed in the context of the Welsh Government’s reconfiguration of NHS services, such as the tension between specialisation and accessibility (a more detailed note will be circulated soon). The meeting also discussed several other issues, especially in regard to party democracy and the selection of candidates.
Our next scheduled meeting, which was to have taken place on Saturday 15th June, has been cancelled, as there will be a Wales launch meeting for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in Cardiff on that day. WLG strongly supports the People’s Assembly initiative, which is backed by all major unions and a broad spectrum of the left, and we encourage all our comrades who are able to do so, to attend the Cardiff meeting, which will be taking place at 12.30 pm in Transport House, 1 Cathedral Road, Cardiff. Our own Cllr. Siobhan Corria will be among the speakers, along with Andy Richards of Unite and Siân Wiblin of PCS. We also, of course, encourage comrades to attend the main People’s Assembly in London on Saturday 22nd June (9.30 am – 5.00 pm at Central Hall, Westminster). More details are available here: http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/ - please register online if you can. The next WLG meeting after that is scheduled for Saturday, 27th July – details to follow.
Euro candidate selection
All party members in Wales should, by now, have had a ballot-paper to rank the women candidates on Welsh Labour’s list for next year’s Euro elections. If you haven’t already done so, please give your first preference to Jayne Bryant, who is a longstanding WLG supporter and is backed by our friends, Paul Flynn MP, Mick Antoniw AM, Sue Essex, John Griffiths AM and Mike Hedges AM, as well as by Unison and Usdaw. There is more information about Jayne on her website and she has an excellent article on the Institute of Welsh Affairs blog, about combating tax avoidance.
Our comrade, Bob Clay, has hit the ground running in his campaign to retain for Labour the seat vacated by the death of Cllr. Dennis James in the by-election in Llansamlet, Swansea, on 4th July. Leafleting and canvassing are well underway – a timetable is attached and any comrades who are able to spare some time are strongly encouraged to go along to Llansamlet and help out. There will be at least one far-right candidate in this election, which makes it all the more important that we do everything we can to get Bob elected. For more information, please contact Bob on 07967 483788, Uta on 07970 052389, or Bob’s agent, Ryland, on 07855 034215.
The politics of hate – Len Arthur
The politics of hate is about denying humanity to another human being. It is shoring up a ‘we are right’ political position by appealing an ‘us versus them’, ‘winners against losers’ emotional argument, avoiding and suppressing any rational discourse. Feeling part of the ‘in’ group - the winners - is comforting in a discomforting world, without having to think too hard. To be part of a demonised, hated group, even marginally, is to become frightened of your own shadow – and, in increasing numbers, people are. When right-wing organisations have recourse to these arguments, there is a chance to fight back. When the Tory government has recourse to them, backed by a right-wing press, we have to fight harder, as the consequences are dire. Essentially the state can be seen putting its own citizens outside of the right to be a citizen.
The Tory government and the right’s reaction to the horrible events of Woolwich are just part of their hate politics that have been visited upon people in receipt of benefits, or who are out of work, migrants, strikers, public sector workers, women, ethnic minorities, Muslims... be assured that you are next in line. That is why we as socialists have to fight every attempt to divide us, campaigning and arguing about what unites us as a working class; all point made repeatedly by UAF and Hope not Hate and in our own recent blog post.
Lessons from history make this point. I remember first seeing Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the Will about the Nuremburg rally celebrating the complete takeover of state power by the Nazi party. Each stage of the film is more frightening than the next, but most disturbing was my realisation that this was funded by the state, intending to cow any internal opposition. I put myself into the position of someone in opposition at that time, trembling at the thought. The horror became very real and I couldn’t finish looking at the film: I never wanted to be in that situation. Yet, here we are, not quite Nuremburg rally stuff yet, but elements are there together with more subtle forms. The old war time film unit take off of the film The Lambeth Walk is an excellent antidote as is Steve Bell now, but with the BBC cowed, we have to look to our own resources as a left.
NHS: reorganisation or cuts? – Len Arthur
Across South Wales, the final 12 week stage of consultations has started on a proposed of reorganisation of NHS provision. The main argument is about concentrating consultant led provision in a number of hospitals. The preferred option removes this provision for A&E, children and maternity from the Royal Glamorgan hospital that serves the Rhondda Valleys. All the documentation is available here and the Rhondda MPs and AMs have started a campaign against and another group has organised this one.
Consultation meetings are being held across South Wales and are listed on the first web link above. Clinical reasons are the main ones given for the changes, with the need to have the best treatment available for those who need it acutely and to enable the recruitment and training of qualified staff. The difficulty for socialists is that these changes take place at the same time as funding for the NHS in Wales will have been reduced in real terms by 15% by 2015. So it is very difficult sort through the arguments. However, given the geography of Wales and the need to have the best quality provision near to people who find it difficult to travel we should argue that these basic consultant-led services should remain across the whole area. We do need to avoid getting into the argument that our provision is better / more needed than yours. Anyway, this is the case that WLG members will be arguing in the Rhondda meetings.