A response to Nick Davies
By Peter Rowlands
Nick has written a piece with which I broadly agree, but I would like to make a few points by way of a response.
1. An illegal budget. Without a large campaign, backed by the Labour party, such actions are bound to fail, although we are all in part responsible for not having generated such a movement - which, as Nick has said, is desperately needed. If Labour adopts an anti-austerity line in the run-up to the election, that would be the springboard, but despite the overwhelming strength of the arguments in favour of this, the Balls austerity line looks as though it will win the day (and perhaps lose Labour the election).
The ‘dented shield’ remains the best approach to local authority cuts, but we should spell out why, not only to TUSC and the Anti-Austerity Campaign in Wales, but to the LRC, to whom we are affiliated and who still peddle the 'no cuts' line, reaffirmed I believe at their last conference.
2. Barnett. At least there is a Labour commitment to look at this again, but that is not likely to be worth very much, as the retention by Scotland of their much more favourable Barnett allocation has already been conceded. Catch-up in Wales would be expensive and generate further demand from the English regions.
3. Cuts. The big cuts in health three years ago were damaging and should have been avoided, although that has been recognised and the focus has now shifted to local government, which will now feel the full force of the Tory cuts. A thorough reorganisation of local government and other public services could achieve savings, but the current proposals are insufficient and would not yield results for some time.
4. UKIP. It might have been hoped that the 'British/English’ appeal of UKIP would have resulted in a much smaller vote for them at this year’s Euro elections in Wales as well as Scotland, where they got only 10%. But Wales’s 26%, although lower than anywhere in England outside London (17%), was almost the same as the average UK vote.There is a UKIP problem in Wales, including all the solid Labour areas where they came second in all, and where, as Nick indicates for Merthyr, there must have been a substantial switch from Labour for them to have achieved the results they did.