News Bulletin 16th-30th January 2017

Dear Comrade

Welcome to the latest WLG/Momentum members’ bulletin. It is a little over two weeks since the last edition and it is likely that it will be the norm, in future, for the bulletin to appear fortnightly, rather than weekly, due to time and workload pressures.

The last two weeks have, of course, been dominated by the inauguration of Donald Trump, arguably the most right-wing U.S. president in living memory, who has already issued executive orders to build a wall between the US and Mexico; attack women’s reproductive rights; and ban migrants from entering the United States from a series of Muslim countries, along with all refugees for 120 days. There have also been numerous other less well-publicised reactionary measures by the Trump administrations. The disgracefully sycophantic approach taken by Theresa May on her visit to Washington no doubt contributed to the huge numbers demonstrating across the UK on Monday night against Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, while a petition against his proposed state visit to the UK has gained more than a million and a half signatures thus far. Jeremy Corbyn has written to May demanding that she withdraw her invitation to Trump to make a state visit.

Within the Labour party, there has been controversy over Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to impose a three-line whip on Labour’s support for the government’s ‘Brexit’ bill, which has prompted the resignation of Shadow Welsh Secretary, Jo Stevens, as well as her frontbencher colleague, Tulip Siddiq. The amendments that Labour has tabled to the government’s bill, which aim to strengthen parliamentary accountability, defend Britain’s tax laws and protect workers’ rights, can be found here. In Wales, the Labour government has published its Trade Union Bill, as mentioned in the last bulletin, and the Assembly has voted to give legislative consent to the UK government’s Wales Bill, which now incorporates the new fiscal framework, including partial control of income tax from 2019. Mark Drakeford has now also published his long-awaited white paper on local government reform in Wales. As expected, compulsory mergers have been abandoned, the process for voluntary mergers is incorporated, along with strategic collaboration between councils in areas like transport and potential changes to the electoral system and voting age.

Party conferences

As previously notified, the Welsh Labour conference is taking place on 25/26 March, with the deadline for notification of delegates being 11 March and for submission of motions, 18 March. We have previously circulated some suggestions for possible motions. In addition, Cardiff West CLP is considering the following motion at its meeting this Friday:

“Conference recalls that the 2015 Welsh Labour conference adopted a resolution that the all-Wales rail franchise, when devolved to the National Assembly, should be run on a not-for-profit basis.
“Conference notes, however, that little has been done subsequently to put this commitment into effect and that a list of private companies, bidding to run the service on a commercial basis, has been announced.
“Conference acknowledges that the Welsh Government’s freedom of manoeuvre is somewhat limited by the Railways Act 1993 but believes that it would be possible, under that legislation, to require bidders to operate the service on a not-for-profit basis and for Welsh Government to act as a provider of last resort if no such bid were received.
“Conference therefore calls on the Welsh Government to use its powers to ensure that Welsh Labour policy in support of a not-for-profit rail franchise is now put into effect.”

If your CLP has yet to choose its delegates for Welsh Labour conference, please consider putting yourself, or another WLG/Momentum member forward, and liaise with comrades to ensure an agreed candidate and to maximise the vote at the meeting. The same applies to the main party conference, which will be taking place in Brighton in September and over which your CLP will soon have to make some decisions. As well as choosing a delegate, there will also be an opportunity to make nominations for some important party bodies: the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC), which has a crucial role in influencing the running of conference, and therefore requires candidates who will represent the wishes of members; and the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), which handles disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party.

Please try to get your CLP to nominate the following candidates, who support the party leadership and are being backed by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy:

CAC: Billy Hayes (Mitcham and Morden CLP, Communications Workers’ Union, party membership no: A065571); Seema Chandwani (Tottenham CLP, L1187007)
NCC: Anna Dyer (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn CLP, L0081865); and Emine Ibrahim (Hornsey and Wood Green CLP, L0150489)

WLG/Momentum News

Nominations closed on Monday for the regional sections of Momentum’s National Co-ordinating Group. At least two WLG members, James Ball and Steve Gittins, received the necessary twenty nominations to stand for the section that includes Wales.

The new WLG steering committee met for the first time in Llandrindod Wells on Sunday 22 January. Most committee members were able to attend and it was a productive meeting. It was agreed, subject to confirmation at the next all-members’ meeting, that Ivan Monckton would fill the vacancy for Chair and that Mike Bird, Linda Lewis and Elspeth Parris would form the Secretariat, with precise division of responsibilities to be agreed among themselves. Darren Williams gave an NEC report, which focussed particularly on the ongoing and recently lifted suspensions of party members. It was agreed that to reaffirm that WLG offers support and solidarity to comrades suspended or expelled for spurious reasons during the leadership election and also to consider what support we can give to our former chair, Bob Clay, who has been referred to the National Constitutional Committee on grounds that the committee considers to be unfair and unsubstantiated. It was agreed that the steering committee would meet on a quarterly basis, with the next meeting to take place as soon as possible after the local elections in May. With the focus of WLG activity shifting more towards local groups, there would be fewer Wales-wide all-member meetings but at least one per year in North Wales and one in South Wales, in addition to the Welsh Labour conference fringe and the AGM. It was agreed that our vice-chair, Maggie Simpson would take up the seat representing WLG on the new Momentum National Co-ordinating Group. Geoff Runciman gave a useful presentation on how WLG/Momentum could best make use of video-conferencing facilities to make our meetings more flexible and inclusive. It was also agreed to lift the prior moderation of posts in our ‘secret’ members’ Facebook group but to develop a clear code of conduct to be posted on the group’s wall; six comrades were appointed as administrators for the group.

Swansea Bay Momentum/WLG are holding a “Meet the Candidates” evening on Wednesday 8 February, Volcano Theatre, 229-231 High St, Swansea SA1 1LG, 7.00-9.00 pm. Come along to meet some of the candidates selected by the Labour Party to fight the City and County of Swansea Council elections in May 2017.

Forthcoming events

Pontypridd, Thursday, 9 February: “Firefighters Under Occupation”, showing of a film that offers a firefighter’s perspective on occupation, struggle, fear and hope, taking you on a journey across the West Bank, plus Q&A with filmmaker Ciaran Gibbons. Organised by Pontypridd Film Forum. 7.00-10.00 pm at Club Y Bont, 85A Taff Street, Pontypridd CF37 4SL.

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.

London, Saturday 4th March: “It’s Our NHS” demonstration. Assemble at 12.00 noon in Tavistock Square, London WC1 and march to Parliament. Transport is certain to be available from various locations in Wales – more information to follow when available.

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.