News Bulletin 9th-15th January 2017

Annwyl gyfaill/Dear comrades

Welcome to our latest weekly bulletin, incorporating a brief summary of the week’s major political developments and news about events within, or relevant to, WLG and Momentum.

The last week has been dominated politically by the ongoing crisis within the NHS, over which Jeremy Corbyn robustly challenged the Tory government in the House of Commons. While the NHS in Wales has encountered its own challenges over winter pressures, the fact that healthcare is the devolved responsibility of the Welsh Labour government means that we are at least protected from the worst aspects of the problems experienced in England and especially the ideologically-driven determination to privatise and marketise the service. Last Tuesday also saw Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething, announce the launch of the Wales’ £80 million new treatment fund, fulfilling one of Welsh Labour’s Assembly election pledges.

Jeremy Corbyn has also made some important public statements over the last week. On Tuesday, he made a major speech on Europe, saying that ” Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.” He also attacked the extreme levels of inequality in Britain and called for a cap on maximum earnings. And at Saturday’s Fabian Society conference, he made a powerful speech pledging that Labour government would mean “a complete break with this rigged system” and would “hand back wealth and control to people and communities” and take failing care homes into public ownership.

In Wales, the Labour government got its budget through the Assembly as expected and also announced the investment of an extra £40m over the next four years to improve the energy efficiency of up to 25,000 homes and support other green growth initiatives. And today, Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford has published a bill to repeal key sections of the Tories’ Trade Union Act 2016 as they apply in Wales, dealing especially with strike ballot thresholds and restrictions on trade union reps’ facility time and on payment of membership subs. The Assembly voted last year to withhold legislative consent from the Tory bill but the UK government argued that it did not need the Assembly’s approval on this issue (a position contradicted by its own leaked legal advice). The Welsh Government’s bill, if passed, is therefore likely to end up before the Supreme Court.

WLG/Momentum News

You should have received an email from Momentum during the last week, explaining that its Steering Committee has adopted a new constitution. WLG’s acting chair, who currently represents us on the steering committee explains here why she voted for the new constitution. The latter provides for the election of a National Co-ordinating Group. WLG will have one seat on this body as a matter of course and our members will also be able to seek election to four seats representing the Midlands, Wales and the West; the nomination and election process is explained in this document. It has also been confirmed that the Momentum national conference will take place on 18 February (further details to follow) and this will no longer be motions- or delegate-based but will be open to all members.

The changes in Momentum and their implications for WLG will be among the issues to be considered at the first meeting of our new Steering Committee, to take place next Sunday, 22 January in Llandrindod Wells. A report of the meeting will follow as soon as practicable afterwards.

Local group meetings:

Cardiff and Vale local group have their AGM, followed by a general meeting, at 7.00 pm on Monday 16th January in the Taff Suite, Sport Wales, Sophia Gardens CF11 9SW.

North East Wales group have a campaigning/planning meeting, featuring further advice and guidance from Kate of Hope Not Hate on Monday 16th January, 7.00 pm at Set the Bar, Lord Street, Wrexham LL11 1LG.

The RCT group have an all member meeting at Penygraig Labour Club, 11 Penygraig Rd. Tonypandy, Rhondda CF40 1HA with guest speaker, Tom Godwin from HOPE not Hate.

The West Wales Group will be meeting at the Amman Centre, Margaret Street, Ammanford SA18 2NP on Saturday 21st January between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm.

Forthcoming events

Cardiff, Friday 20th January: Stand Up to Racism Wales demonstration to coincide with Trump’s inauguration, 6.00-9.00 pm on the Castle lawn, Castle Street, Cardiff.

Saturday 21st January: Labour National Campaign Day, with CLP-led events taking place in a number of locations, focussing in Wales on local government issues.

Cardiff, Wednesday 15th February: IWA/Cardiff University Debate: ‘Should the Brexit deal for Wales include the free movement of people?’ Eversheds Free event but registration required.

Cardiff, Thursday 16th February: Socialist Health Association Cymru Wales public meeting to show the film ‘The Divide’ by Katharine Round, inspired by the best selling book ‘The Spirit Level’ which shows the top 0.1% own as much as the bottom 90% in the UK and the USA, followed by discussion about the implications for our health. 7.00-9.00 pm at the Meeting Room, 2nd floor, The Yard Bar & Kitchen, 42–43, St Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1AD (5 minutes walk from Central Railway Station).

Merthyr Tydfil, Friday 24th February: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney CLP’s 2017 Keir Hardie Lecture with Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education as guest speaker. 7.00-10.00 pm at Theatre Soar, Canolfan Soar, Pontmorlais, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8UB. Tickets cost £12 for Labour Party Members and £15 for non-members from Hayley Hughes, tel: 07584 082021 and include light refreshments. All proceeds will support local party campaigns.

Cardiff, Saturday 18th March: Stand Up to Racism demonstration, supported by the Wales TUC and Jo Stevens MP, coinciding with demos in London and Glasgow, to mark UN Day Against Racism. Assemble at 11.00 am in Grange Gardens, Cardiff CF11 7LJ and march to City Hall. Standing up against racist attacks and the rise of the far right in Europe and America and in solidarity with those oppressed by racism. More details here.