"Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change" - Karl Marx

This blog is my interpretation, I will do everything I can to change the world along those line

Monday, 4 October 2010

A day trip to Birmingham, but for what?

Last Sunday saw a demonstration of somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people in Birmingham to protest outside the tory party conference. An impressive turn out with all things considered, the rain probably damaged the turn out and the governments spending review has not taken place yet. The demonstration also displayed a great cross section of working class society with banners displaying various campaigns to stop cuts in services, with various trade union banners, student groups, political organisations and a sizable amount of disabled people in attendance as well, fearful of the cuts in Disability Living allowance. All of this shows the potential is there for a united campaign against cutbacks but it wasn't all positive and I am not just referring to the rain.

Despite such anger against the cuts you would be forgiven for not realising this demonstration was against cuts, in fact I am not entirely sure myself if it was or if it was simply against tory cuts! The Right to Work posters read 'Protest against Tory cuts' and there was nothing said about anyone else but the tories. Whilst some may say this is pedantic it is not at all. Travelling on a coach from Cardiff we were well aware that the Welsh Assembly government is run by Labour and Plaid Cymru whilst Cardiff Council is run by the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru. Do the cuts they will carry out not matter? With any of the 3 main parties and a 4th in Wales in power they have all committed themselves to huge public sector cuts. But there was no mention of this throughout the demonstration simply stating that 'tories are scum' whilst I completely agree lets have some clarity and make it clear that all the main parties are committed to making to working class pay for the capitalist crisis.

This is a very important point because it is no good to simply direct the anger at tories (and liberals) when it will be labour/Plaid Cymru/SNP councils as well as the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament carrying out the cuts as well. It seems that the 'keep is so broad it is ineffective' strategy is still in full effect though. I am not opposed to members of those parties being involved in campaigns against cuts, but only if they refuse to vote for cuts and condemn those in their parties who do. Where there are council that refuse to carry out cuts they should receive the full and active support of anti-cuts campaigners but where there is not, then anti-cuts candidates should stand for election, unfortunately this did not feature at all in the Right to Work organised demonstration whatsoever.

Fortunately however Dave Nellist former Labour MP and currently a Socialist Party councillor in Coventry spoke from the platform at both rallies, he made the points which I have made in this article and pointed out that anti-cuts campaigners have had electoral success, in Kidderminster twice winning an MP as well as councillors and councillors won by anti-cuts campaigners in Huddersfield, Wigan, Wallsall and many other places and there is a need to build on this in the next election. This was also made clear in a very good Socialist Party leaflet which to my knowledge was the only material on the day highlighting a real strategy to defeat the cuts which was very will received, after all that was the point of the demonstration was it not?

There were other problems with the demonstration with between 50-100 pseudo-anarchist youth attempted to breach the fence and get into the conference centre, which then led to a long confrontation with the police which was eventually separated off from the main demonstration. This clearly resulted from the frustration at the relative inaction from the demonstration organisers in my view and will only continue and the trend will increase unless a clear strategy to defeat the cuts is put forward.

It is also worth noting that despite all this talk of the Coalition of Resistance on the Internet, I did not see any sign of them existing on this demonstration, which would have been the experience of many others, if they were actually there at all, or does this 'coalition only exist on the Internet? That has been my sole experience with it.

On the day Right to Work gave out a leaflet calling for 'unity talks' on the 5th December, but if they actually wanted unity then two things would have happened differently at least. Firstly when the chair of Right to Work attended the steering committee of the National Shop Stewards Network the day before he would have raised this at the time and secondly they would not have organised a 'unity event' the same time as the already publicised Youth Fight for Jobs national conference. It seems that based on this the 'unity project' is just for show, especially considering Right To Work was set up when the NSSN and YFJ already existed in the first place! Nevertheless unity against cuts is welcome but at the moment I am dubious that Right to Work actually want unity with others, and who could argue otherwise based on the facts.

After this demonstration it seems clear to me that nothing has changed and that if we wish to stop the cuts that the tasks remain the same, to build local campaigns against the cuts!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Nick Clegg 'answers' questions in Cardiff

Last Thursday I had the dubious honour of attending a question and answer session with Nick Clegg in Cardiff City Hall. It was meant to be invitation only, probably due to the grilling he got last time he visited the city, but despite that and despite not being on the guest list I was able to get in.

What did I get for managing to blag my way in? Well I managed to waste 45 minutes of my life which I will never be able to get back! Clegg was indeed his usual self, that of a despicable liar, I did not expect anything else but the levels to which he was willing to go to lie would have been amusing if not true.

The first question from the floor started off well with the speaker ironically offering greetings from his mother who had voted for the liberals to keep the tories out. However the questions were not all that great in my opinion and there was only to be a handful of them as Clegg only stuck around for 45 minutes, i think in reality it was probably less than that. Whilst it seemed obvious that the majority of people in attendance were angry at Clegg, noticed by the whispers amongst the audience this didn't really translate into the questions.

Those able to ask questions (many included myself despite having are hands up the whole time were not brought in to ask a question) generally asked about services they used or sectors they worked in to seek assurances that this services wouldn't suffer from the cuts. Naturally Clegg was able to worm his way out, particularly as this meeting didn't grant the questioner the right to reply. One example was when a teacher asked about the situation in schools where funding restrictions have already seen cuts to learning support staff which allows children with learning difficulties to remain in mainstream schools, she asked how this would be prevented. Clegg's reply utterly appalled me! He said that it was because there was too much bureaucracy in the system, that although funding would be cut giving schools and teachers the freedom to decide how the money would be spent would prevent this from happening. He gave the example of academies to exlain why this gives the freedom to choose! Quite disingenious as this doesn't give the teachers or any other educational specialists the choice of how resources are spent, it gives private companies, rather than accoutable public authorities th choice. In any case if the budget is cut some services will have to go but when this is coupled with a private company taking a profit out then the end result can only ever be cuts.

Clegg was caught out at one point though when he stated that future genrations should not be made to pay for 'our' mistakes, so he was questioned by a student on why the government was proposing to raise tution fees, Clegg responded by acknowledging it was a problem and went on about the difficulties that students face but generally avoided actually answering the question as you would expect from a politician.

Throughout the whole time Clegg managed to get in lie after lie, I presented it as a fact that there is no other choice but to cut public services, such a blatant lie, what he should have said is that according to his political philisphy there is no other choice! In reality there is definately anothr choice, reading through the last few entries of my blog will be able to see that. He also stated that NHS funding would increase, and whilst this technically is not a lie it is very disingenious as the funding will be below inflation rates in the health sector and therefore in real terms is a cut to health expenditure. He also stated that over all public expenditure would increase, this to me seems like it must be an out right lie, but if there is some truth in it then it can only be on the basis of bailouts for the rich and trident nuclear weapons, hardly the public services that come to mind when people think of public expenditure.

Over all the 45 minutes was a complete waste of time, though it would have been well worth it if I was able to get into the discussion and put these points and the alternative to cuts to Clegg, such a grilling would have changed the whole mood of any following questions and th general atmosphere in the room.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Campaigning against cutbacks

This article was orginally posted on the GlamSU website, However since publishing some details have changed. The demonstration reffered to October 23rd in Pontypridd is no longer taking place, however there will be a demonstration against cuts in Cardiff on that day organised by the Wales Shop Stewards Network. Below is the article

On the 20th of October the ‘ConDem’ government as it has come too referred as will announce its spending review. In Orwellian fashion this spending review will only review how to spend much less across the entire public sector. In reality this will equate to huge job losses, particularly in Wales where a third of the workforce is in the public sector, along with the jobs cuts will come the inevitable slashing of public service provisions, including provisions in the education system.

In light of this there has been resistance emerging from trade unions, student groups and community campaigners alike. Already several joint initiatives have been announced. The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU) (the trade union for lecturers and other academic staff) have announced a joint campaign called ‘Fund of Future’ and have planned a joint demonstration for November the 20th against cuts in university funding.

There have also been moves for a national demonstration against all cut backs. The National Shop Stewards Network organised a demonstration of over a thousand people outside the Trades Union Council (TUC) Conference to put pressure on the TUC to call a national demonstration against cuts. Such a demonstration organised by the TUC which has over 6 million members in Britain could be a huge rallying cry for a campaign to defeat the cuts!

On a more local level in the last week a meeting organised by Cardiff Trade Union Council agreed to set up a campaign against all cut backs. The meeting was well attended by members of a variety of public sector trade unions as well as those working in the private sector. Of note to us as students is that in attendance at this meeting there were staff and students present from both the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff University. At the meeting the need to unite campaigns together soA all the variety of campaigns against these cutbacks was stressed heavily. A sentiment I completely agree with, if we let ourselves get divided into saving our own services and our own jobs then we will all loose out in the end. This was something that Cardiff Council attempted to do a few years ago, when they attempted to divide individual campaigns against school closures. This was done in an attempt to get some campaigners to support the closure programme but campaign solely for their school to remain open. This would have led to smaller sectional and therefore weaker campaigns.

It is therefore important that we as students wishing to defend education cuts should support any campaigns in the area against public sector cuts. There is a demonstration on the 23rd of October in Pontypridd against public sector cuts organised by the Wales TUC. All students at the University should attend that demonstration and campaign alongside public sector workers, but we should also appeal for those on that demonstration to come along with us to the demonstration in London against cuts in University funding.

We have been constantly told there is no alternative to the cuts by the government and the media, and the old saying that “If a lie is told long and loud enough then it will become the truth” is very appropriate in this situation as there is no basis for this assertion whatsoever. The only reason that we have a deficit is because all the money was given to the banks, yet the banks are still able to make millions in profits and still give out millions in bonuses to the top city bankers. So why not demand that the bankers pay for the crisis instead, why not demand that the government nationalises the banks and put the profits into the education system and other public services.

Even if we accept this debt from the bankers it is not true that we need to cut public sector spending at this rate, in fact we do not need to cut spending at all. After World War 2 when the British government was racked by debts much bigger in fact than the current debt crisis it was still possible to invest heavily in public services including the introduction of the NHS as well investment in many other public services, which led to a period of economic boom. Contrast that to the response of governments after the Wall Street crash which was to drastically reduce public spending which led to the great depression, showing that making public sector cuts on this scale can only make things worse!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cardiff anti-cuts alliance

This Tuesday just gone (21/09/10) Cardiff County Trades Council held a public meeting. The purpose of which was to discuss the impending public sector cuts, those which have already been announced, some of which have already been carried out and those cuts expected to be announced next month as part of the government’s spending review on October 20th.

The meeting was well attended with n seats left over for any late comers. A definite sign of the mood to fight back against the public sector cuts. There were platform speakers from a variety of trade unions including the PCS, RMT, CWU and Unison and speakers from the floor representing a variety of other trade unions, student groups, community campaigners and many others. This alone should reflect the scale and the desire to fight back against these cuts.

Speaker after speaker explained how the cuts will affect them; CWU members spoke about postal privatisation and the need for the whole community to campaign to stop this from happening. Pensioners explained the change that moving pensions from the retail price index to the consumer price index pointed out that this will reduce the living standards of pensioners and stressed the need for trade unionists to fight for pensioners rights. Youth fight for jobs activists stressed the need for all workers to help them fight against rising youth employment which is clearly linked to the fight to stop jobs cuts. The list went on and on.

Throughout the evening it became more and more clear that there was a desperate need to link up the struggle to save jobs and services with other campaigns. Some campaigners pointed out the lessons learned in recent years in Cardiff, when the council proposed to close 22 schools in the city and then attempted to play campaign off against each other, in an attempt to get campaigners arguing for some schools to be closed in order to save their own. It was pointed out that if this did happen and different campaigns were divided then we would all loose out.

More and more speakers were making it clear that there was a need to set up a campaigning body which included all sections of the community to oppose all cuts. Other speakers disagreed, pointing out that we should support cuts to the banks, the politicians, to the replacement of trident nuclear weapons and to the military funding which allows young working class people to be sent to fight a rich man’s war in Afghanistan.

It was agreed at the end of the meeting to setup Cardiff anti-cuts Alliance which will start its campaigning activity very shortly and will aim to unite all campaigns that spring up against cut backs in the area into a united campaign to oppose all cuts to public services. Towards the end of the meeting one speaker from the floor said, I want to see council staff on demonstrations to oppose postal privatisation I want to see postal workers on demonstrations to oppose cuts in education; I want to see students standing side by side with striking workers. Only by standing together and supporting our individual struggles will we be able to stop these cuts.

This is clearly a big step forward for anti-cuts campaigning in South Wales, particularly as this initiative as followed in the footsteps of a recent initiative by Swansea Trades Council.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Making the Top Ten!

Despite a recent lapse in my blogging when it came to the Total Politics Blog Awards for the Top 50 Welsh blogs I managed to scrap into the top ten.
In the run up to the announcement I was pretty confident that I would make it into the top 50, not because I thought my blog was that great but because quite frankly you would be hard pressed to find 50 active blogs in Wales. However making it into the top ten was a definite surprise, beating the likes of Leanne Wood and Bethan Jenkins easily with 2,200 voters in the poll, quite a significant result in the blogging world.
It really shows the grasp for ideas, as one of the only blogs in Wales which not only comments on events but actively promotes a viable alternative to many issues it shows the grasp by the welsh blogosphere for the need for an alternative.
It hasn’t all been good on the blog awards front though. I made it to number 82 in the top 100 worst political blogs, not an accolade I was particularly looking for, however judging by the obscure blogs I voted for which polled high I can only assume that the voting in the poll was quite low. I can only speculate why anyone voted for me, I will will assume its because of the recent low frequency of the posts appearing so I will try and rectify that now so I do not appear in next years poll.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Total Politics Blog Awards - Vote Me!

It is the time of year for the Total Politics Blog Awards. My blog is just under a year old, so when last years awards were released this blog was not eligable (being as it did not exist)

This year I want to get into the charts particulary the category of Welsh blogs, though I would not object to appearing in the left of centre category.

Last years results showed Plaid Cymru affiliated blogs dominate the top and generally the establishment and their supporters dominating all the top places. It would be good to see the foundations shake with a radically left blog shooting up the charts. So vote for Everyones Favourite Comrade.

Voting is all explained here, just click on the link below.

Click here to vote in the Total Politics Best Blogs Poll 2010

Of course the miners' strike was financially supported by communists!

On July 9th an article, written by Dr Norman Laporte, was published on the University of Glamorgan website. This article was, strangely and grammatically incorrectly, entitled “Was the Miners’ Strike was "secretly financed by Communists"?”. The first response that came to mind as soon as I had read the article was simply ‘I am so glad he doesn’t lecture me’. Now that is not because I disagree with him, as any of my lecturers or peers can testify as I am quite happy to debate out any and every issue with any lecturer or fellow student and do so on a regular basis. My simple reasoning behind it is that Laporte just seems to be so bad at what he does!

Firstly he starts the article with the massive assumption that this revelation comes as some surprise as if no-one expected it, hence the title. In fact there was no secret at all! Communists openly supported the miners’ strike, yet Laporte in a very tunnelled-vision manner seems to ignore all the open evidence; that communists in Britain and internationally for that matter openly supported the miners’, raising funds to support them amongst many other things. The cheek of the man to call himself a historian whilst omitting such obvious facts!

The article is based around a book he has written in order to publicise it ahead of its impending release later this month. The thrust of the argument appears to be documents from the East German Communist trade union federation which suggest they gave considerable financial support to the National Union of Mineworkers’. I don’t dispute this in anyway whatsoever, in fact I would be more shocked if it was revealed that they didn’t add any financial support. Laporte unfortunately doesn’t display the capacity to understand this.

The miners’ strike lasted from 1984-85 and was a heroic stand of the working class. On strike for a year the miners and there families made huge personal sacrifices in the face of an onslaught from the Thatcher government. With no income for the duration of the strike, the miners were forced to live of the unions strike fund. However it was impossible to maintain this over the course of the strike, the strike fund of the NUM was simply not equipped for this task. Organised workers in trade unions and socialist or communist organisations in Britain and internationally rightly saw this as a class war and rushed to the aid of the miners, spawning miners’ support groups throughout the country. Money was raised throughout the world to offer financial support ,in order to help the miners maintain their stand. So of course finance was raised in a basic act of class solidarity, something of which Laporte once again fails to understand.

Laporte claims in the book that “the Communists perceived the NUM as an ally in the international class struggle against capitalism – hence the close interest in the strike” and in this he was absolutely right. It seems to suddenly dawn on him, as if for the first time he decided to open his eyes and take a peek over the blankets.

But this is where Laporte goes in for the ‘kill’: he adds ““It was, above all, the anti-capitalism of left-of-centre British trade unionists which made them believe that East European Communism was on the right path.... But the British Left ignored massive human rights abuses and the lack of basic freedoms behind the Iron Curtain because they believed that the basic development in the direction of Socialism was right.” As if he thinks that once and for all he has stumped all advocates of communism and won the argument! How wrong can one man be? Well, apparently quite a lot. He is quite right in his assertion that anti-capitalists in Britain saw those who had over-thrown capitalism as ‘along the right track’. Yet he returns to his anti-historical perspective almost immediately when he adds that the British Left ignored massive human rights abuses – a statement which flies in the face of reality.

The British left is, of course, not a homogenous unit in any way shape or form, and much of the British left were and still are very critical of the undemocratic and totalitarian nature of the Stalinist regimes. Whilst at the same time explaining that the economic system, the planned economy, was something worth defending. In such an anti-historical move Laporte chooses to omit this, as well as omitting the human rights abuses of capitalist states, including those of the British government at the time and the violence dished out to the miners.

It is clear that Laporte is trying to present a false image on the past and could teach McCarthy a thing or two. I hope his students are aware of how much is academic work is void of legitimacy!

Friday, 9 July 2010

The human face of welfare reform

This article was originally published on Radical Wales and is now shown below

In the light of extensive plans from the coalition government to ‘reform’ the welfare and benefits system much has be written about it. Such a change in the current system has provoked a reaction from the entire political spectrum. Many of the radical left have looked at how this will affect working class people. Glyn Matthews interviews a benefit claimant living in Bridgend (who wishes to remain anonymous) to show the human face of the current welfare reform proposals.

Glyn: Firstly, can you just briefly outline your current circumstances as a benefit claimant?

Well about 15 years ago I had a slipped disc in my back, I had an operation to repair it but it has never been quite right since. About 5 years ago I found myself unable to cope with work as my back had deteriorated so much. I was assessed and started claiming incapacity benefit My back become allot better after awhile and I was much more active and mobile. The problem was there were still some days that I couldn’t physically move. I was able to go on to the back to work scheme and was able to get a job. I still took quite a few sick days due to back problems but as my sick pay was paid by the government and not my boss it was ok and I wasn't at risk of being sacked. I was made redundant recently though, I was just out of the 12 month period to go back onto incapacity benefit but not long enough to get any redundancy pay. At the moment I am waiting to be reassessed for incapacity benefit as my back problems have resurfaced and some days I haven’t been able to leave the bed.

So at the moment you are not seeking employment?

No I am, my back is causing me allot of problems at the moment but it is not all the time. I went to the jobcentre and explained that I wanted to go back to work but that I was not confident that I would ending calling in sick all the time, that I wasn’t sure if I could cope with it didn’t want to risk losing my benefits. I was hoping they would put me back on the back to work scheme again but they wouldn’t

What did they do then?

At the moment they have put me on this scheme for 10 weeks, I work for Tesco three days a week, I don’t get paid though I just collect my Job Seekers Allowance as normal.

How do you feel about this?

Well to be frank I feel used, I don’t see why I should be expected to work for free for a company with as much money as Tesco, and I do not see how it benefits me in anyway. They obviously need the staff they could either pay me or advertise a vacancy. I am only guessing but I imagine I’m not the only one doing this, so it could be thousands of extra jobs created, instead it just means Tesco are able to save a packet on their wages bill. I don’t see how this is fair at all.

You mentioned earlier that you are waiting to be reassessed for incapacity benefit; recently the government have announced new plans regarding this with the aim of getting more people off this benefit and into work. How do you feel about this?

I think it’s quite worrying myself, as I have already said I do want to go back to work but some days I am physically unable to even leave my bed. If they tighten up the rules and I am assessed on a good day then I will be turned down. I don’t see why these MPs should be allowed to rule over us and make us beg for the crumbs whilst they take anything they want from the table.

What are you referring to? The MPs expenses?

That is part of it yeah, but it isn’t just that it’s everything, their wages are really high as well, and they are all involved in business and stuff like that. They just look after themselves at our expense. At the same time they want us all to stop claiming benefits and work, but there are no jobs, it isn’t our fault there are no jobs it is theirs.

Well the government have recently revealed proposals to give incentives for people to move to towns or cities where there are jobs. What are your thoughts about this?

I am quite scared by this idea, I certainly do not want to move away all my family are in the area, my elderly and ill mother, both my son and my daughter and In the last 2 months my first grandchild was born. I have deep roots in this area I don’t want to move away from here.

You said you were scared by this idea, why are you scared? After all, the government have said this will be optional and they will just add incentives to people to help them move.

Well that is true but it depends what they mean by optional. I mean I have heard that housing benefit payments are going to be cut, if they are I won’t be able to afford to pay my rent whilst I am on benefits, that’s why I am on housing benefit in the first place. I might have a choice between being evicted and taking up the governments offer to move to where the jobs are.

Another thing which concerns me about this is that if people are encouraged to move out of areas where there are few jobs then it will make it worse and worse. I live in Bridgend and a few years ago there was a string of suicides amongst young people. I don’t know the reason behind it but it was clear that there is no future on offer to young people in this town maybe that had something to do with it. I have two children in their early twenties and a newly born grandchild, I am worried about the future on offer to them.

All the main political parties say that “we are in this together” referring to the economic crisis. Do you agree?

Definitely not and I don’t know anyone who does. I didn’t do anything to cause these problems neither did you. Yet the banks were given billions the MPs took as much money as they could get away with but its people like us losing there jobs, its us who suffer when they cut public services and its us who are made to feel guilty and ashamed when we can’t find a job.

You, like me, obviously disagree with the governments policies, what do you think should be done?

I think we need to say “NO” I think we need to say that we will not accept this, I don’t know how I just know that we should not accept this.

Okay, thank you for your time, as you know this interview is going to be published on Radical Wales, perhaps a discussion about how to take this forward will take place on the comment section. Will you be following that discussion?

Definitely, I am really interested to see what we can do, I haven’t been involved in anything like this before but I don’t think we have a choice anymore. We have to do something.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Radical Wales Launch

Radical Wales will be launched later today. (Monday July 5th) The obvious question that many reader will be asking is What is Radical Wales? Well the answer is simply, Radical Wales is a new blog which has been set up involving the radical left in Wales, anarchists, communists, environmentalists, left republicans and socialists outside of any of the main political parties, in this case in reference to Labour and Plaid Cymru who do have activists who would otherwise fit the definition.

The idea behind Radical Wales which has been building for a few months before the launch is that it can act as a forum for the ideas across the left spectrum in Wales. The blog has existed for sometime but simply acted as a blog aggregator initiated by Tom Fowler. It has now developed into much more. The site now houses a blog aggregator, twitter feed, directory of left organisations and campaigns in Wales, a calendar displaying events of the radical left and most importantly now the blog which as of today will start to publish individual material.

This is what it says on the Radical Wales site

Loss of heart and burnout ends many people's contact with radicalism in Wales, as elsewhere. Many of those who don't completely turn their back on politics end up compromising and accepting mainstream 'realities'. This is partly because our respective movements suffer from visibility and image problems: the limited coverage given to protests and campaigns by the mainstream media fails to address the core reasons for discontent, and much of what's left of the radical media suffers from an inward looking culture that only preaches to the choir.

Radical Wales exists as a platform for considered radical political commentary and discussion in Wales. We hope to attract a wide range of submissions from across the spectrum of anarchists, communists, greens, left-republicans and socialists.

Inspired by the long line of rebels and revolutionaries who have stood outside and against the political process of the ruling class in Wales, we'll publish original articles that continue that tradition. Are you interested in writing an article or becoming a regular contributor? Then read our guide to submitting an article and get in touch to discuss your ideas further.

By including contributors from different radical traditions there will doubtless be countless political and tactical disagreements. Many (probably most) of these will never be resolved, but through honest and frank discussion we hope areas of common ground can be found. We're keen to encourage debate, but ask all that everyone makes themselves aware of the comments policy.

As well as a being a platform for original articles, this site aims to be a hub for radical politics and an activist resource. With that in mind we ask for your help updating the calendar, keeping the directory up-to-date, and joining us in sharing ideas and events using social media. Please get in touch about anything we've overlooked or you feel is missing.

We hope you enjoy reading the site, but we can achieve more collectively than we can individually so please do get involved, leave comments, write articles, send in updates and publicise what you like on the internet and beyond.

This gives you a flavour of what to expect from Radical Wales in the future. There is currently an editorial group, but they aim to limit their editorial role to an absolute minimum. The editorial group currently includes me (regular readers of my blog should know my political background. Tom Fowler, who initially created the site to collect together all radical blogs in Wales,. He described himself as a libertarian socialist and has been active within South Wales Anarchists and No Borders as well as various of campaigns since the late 1990s. Adam Johannes, a Marxist currently unaligned with any political party but still active in various campaigns most notably Cardiff Stop the War Coalition. Finally there is Andy Williams, who I must confess to knowing very little about other than he is an academic and an anarchist. This editorial group is not a complete or definitive list it’s just the one we have started with. Other current contributors include anarchists, Marxists and greens.

So keep an eye on developments here, watch out for the articles to come forth in the next few weeks and the launch article later today and get involved. If you are interested in getting involved then what better way to do get in touch with me on my cool new e-mail address glyn@radicalwales.org!


Monday, 28 June 2010

An Open letter reply to Janet Daley

After reading an article by Janet Daley in the Sunday telegraph I felt compelled to respond to her comments. Below I publish a copy of the letter I have sent to the Sunday Telegraph letter page, of which I am sceptical about the possibility of it being published. The article written by Janet Daley can be found here.

In last weeks copy of the Sunday Telegraph (June 27) Janet Daley in her column stated “Virtually everybody who is in touch with political reality now accepts that the old contest – socialism vs. Capitalism is over.” I can honestly say that I was shocked by this ascertain, I don’t see how Janet can match this with reality at all.

I have been an active campaigner and advocate for socialism for the last 7-8 years since the age of 17, in that time I have witnessed a growth in the support for socialist ideas particularly over the last 2 years and more increasingly now. Indeed it was as recent as June 16th that the BBC News at 10 aired a piece about Nottingham. The news piece showed the leader of the council Kay Cutts with a picture of Thatcher on her office wall on the one hand. On the other hand the news piece showed activists organising against the proposed cuts. In particular it showed a meeting of the Socialist Party and referenced the increasing support recently due to the polices of all the main parties in response to the recession, the reporter even went as far to say that the old ideological battlegrounds are being redrawn!

Whilst Janet infers that none of the major political parties in Britain now engage in this ideological debate, agreeing that capitalism is the only way forward. It is simply untrue to say as she did that “those in touch with political reality agree capitalism is the only way”. It is of course the capitalist policies which have created this global recession. This current financial crisis was not inevitable it is only capitalist policies which make this kind of policies inevitable and this is becoming recognized by more and more workers and young people.

If Janet Daley is so confident about her claims that anyone politically in the know would rule out socialism then why doesn’t she attempt to prove that and agree to a public debate with me? Capitalism or Socialism? This could happen within the pages of the Telegraph, on the Telegraph website in text or video, on my own blog or a live debate in person. I am confident enough that my ideas and views can hold up in a debate but is Janet? Or is she just wiling to make these kinds of statements when they can go unchallenged?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What a difference opposition makes...

On Monday I attended a meeting at the University of Glamorgan organised by UCU, the speakers were two Labour Party members, the first Owen Smith the MP for Pontypridd, the second was the proposed candidate for the Welsh Assembly election, though his name escapes me.

As I was 11 years old in 1997 when Labour came to power this was the very first opportunity I had had to hear the wisdom of Labour in opposition. Of course I had seen bits and pieces from Labour since the election, but this was my first opportunity to see it in the flesh so to speak. But what I saw could only ever be described as pathetic.

Whilst both speakers were so keen to agree with each other and both were so keen to agree with each other and denounce the tories, in fact they were falling over each other to point out that the tories policies towards education were “ideologically driven” and of course they are correct. But what both Labour Party representatives neglected to mention was the last 13 years of a Labour government and their very own attacks on education including academies which can only be described as the ideological pursuit of the right-wing. How else could you describe the privatisation of schools?

So whilst the labour representatives were willing to condemn these tory policies and even added that the lib dems had let people down (at which point I had to chuckle as the lib dems have never been on our side, but such is the degeneration of labour that they could even say that openly) neither of them was willing to respond to questions about Labour’s own record. Neither was willing to promote any alternative other than saying that the tories were wrong in the vaguest of ways. There were a couple of other labour party members in the room who I guess would be described as the ‘grassroots activists’ and again what they said was virtually the same. Though it is also worth noting that there were move people in the room who had either resigned from the labour party or who would have joined 20-30 years ago.

The message that the Labour representatives were trying to convey although in the most of sloppy ways seemed to be, that the solution was to vote Labour, now there are several problems with that theory the main one of course was that people did and 13 years later things were worse. Secondly though as the Labour candidates acknowledged they are in a minority and they effectively have no influence over government policy, so what they were really saying is until the next election there is absolutely nothing that we can do!

This is the most disastrous of roots to take and effectively meant that Labour at this stage were attempted to quell the organised working class from organising effectively! It was left to myself to and other members of Socialist Students to publicise a demonstration at the Welsh Assembly organised by Cardiff Trades Council, after all one of the Labour representatives spoke of the need to organise effectively in trades councils but this once again proved to be hollow words.

I spoke during the meeting and despite the notable speakers from Labour on the platform and other members in attendance I was the only one to raise the need to take a campaign against cuts forward. I stated the need to build a campaign on campus amongst members of all three trade unions (UCU, Unison and GMB) as well as students and pointed out the need to extend this to the local area to other universities to colleges and throughout the local community to defend schools and other public services as well as pointing out the extreme failure and hypocrisy of the Labour strategy, well if you can call it a strategy.

The points were well received and as the meeting ended we faced many requests for more information about the Trades Council demo and others congratulated me on what I had said, which included a few trade unionists who were eager to offer me their contact details in order to build a campaign in the future.

This strategy in my view demonstrated coherently that the strategy I put forward of arguing for the need to build campaigns to defend education and attacking Labour’s record was extremely beneficial towards building links amongst organised workers and to remain outside of the Labour Party. It would be interesting to see how PhilBC over at A very public Sociologist would respond; after all he rejoined labour precisely for that very reason!

What difference does opposition make? At this stage it seems to make very little.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

We stopped the EDL in Cardiff!

Last Saturday we saw the arrival of The English Defence League (EDL)) or calling themselves the Welsh Defence League (WDL)) in Cardiff for the first time. Towards the end of last year we saw them attempt to have demonstrations in South Wales, first in Swansea and then two weeks later in Newport. In Swansea around 30-40 EDL members turned up, but because anti«fascist protesters had occupied the Square they intended to protest in hours before it became impossible for them to do so. They attempted to march past but were surrounded and had to be escorted from the city by police. In Newport only a handful of EDL members were spotted in the city and didn’t dare to stage a protest as John Frost Square had been occupied by hundreds of anti-fascists,

This Saturday in Cardiff did see the biggest mobilisation of the EDL to Cardiff, which should not go unnoticed. I would estimate that in total there were up to 150 EDL demonstrators. Luckily however they were massively outnumbered by anti-fascists on the day. Some estimates have put it at a 5:1 ratio and I think that is probably right. Once the EDL attempted to enter the area where their demonstration was due to be held a surge of anti-fascist protesters ran the 100 yards down the road to stop them from assembling. The charge was led by members of the Soul Crew (Cardiff City Football fans) who were immediately followed by a wave of other anti-fascists. There was a stand off for some time but eventually we were pushed back by the police and the EDL were taken around to their allotted assembly point in-between City Hall and the Museum.

The EDL stayed there for sometime, it was quite difficult to get a good look at them from here as the we were all in the park enclosed by a hedge lined with police man and behind them a row o riot vans, from what I can gather though the EDL did have their demonstration as planned unfortunately, but not without being surrounded visibly and audibly by several hundred anti-fascists.

After awhile the police began to push us back and it was clear that this was in order to get ready to escort the EDL out of the area. Naturally the police were resisted, there were no violent altercations that I could see but nobody was making it easy for the police to move us on. At this point due to being in the front row I was now penned in, I had the police pushing me from one side and on the other were about 100 protesters, it was obvious at this point that both the EDL and the majority of other protesters were no longer there. As the event had been thoroughly uncoordinated I was not in a position to do anything about it, but where had they all gone?

By piecing together the reports I have since heard and read it seems that the EDL were escorted by the police by but all along the way were surrounded by anti-fascist protesters. I have also hear d some reports which suggest that along the way there were a few points were anti-fascists were able to brake through or go around police lines and get to the EDL although I am not sure if this is true. They were escorted all the way around the edge of the city centre to central train station. Not long after this around 20 EDL members were spotted waiting on platform 6-7. As everyone who uses trains in the Cardiff area will know, platforms 6 and 7 are those which are used for the local lines so it was not simply the case of EDL members being shipped in from across the border although it did seem that the majority of them were from England.

The EDL were forced to go home with their tales between their legs. This was due in part to the fantastic response of the Soul Crew in confronting the EDL. The EDL had seen them as allies previously as they are a football firm, but that was obviously not the case. Whilst in many ways this was a victory for the anti-fascist movement there were also many short comings, I will not dwell on them for the sake of it, however if we are to be serious about confronting fascism in the future then we must take a serious look at the problems and how we can rectify them in the future.

Mistakes were made in the run up to the demonstration, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) insisted on a demonstration starting in Cardiff Bay. Cardiff Communities Against Racism (CCAR) warned against this tactic and argued for a city centre demonstration only as this was where the EDL intended to be. For the sake of unity however whilst disagreeing with a demonstration CCAR agreed to go along with it and heavily publicised the event. Leading up to the demonstration CCAR obtained more information which suggested that the EDL would be in the city centre and once again appealed to UAF to change the plans on the day; once again UAF ignored these warning. The result was that CCAR members acting as spotters on the day were able to spot EDL members chanting on St. Marys Street in the city centre completely unopposed!

At the demonstration itself UAF stewards urged everyone to go behind the fences which the police were using to cordon us in and to keep us away from the EDL. Many anti-fascist protesters refused and for that refusal a UAF steward using a megaphone said “they were as bad as the WDL” But the fact is that if everyone had agreed to go behind the police cordon at the request of UAF we would not have been in the position to confront the EDL and run them out of town as we did.

Another failing was the decision of UAF to remove all stewarding from the demonstration for no conceivable reason, potentially putting many at risk. The real problem was though the general lack of coordination. Information about the EDLs movements was not relayed. As mentioned earlier CCAR spotters had seen the EDL unopposed in the city centre, when this information was passed to a CCAR member at the demonstration they attempted to pass it on to a UAF organiser who response was that he was “too busy to deal with it”. The same can be said about a suspected local redwatch photographer who was spotted waiting near the new theatre as if he was waiting for people. This suggested that the EDL would be coming in via the new theatre, again UAF did not act on this information but the EDL did indeed come from that way.

Failings in communication also affected the ending, although the EDL had left the area surrounding the Park they were being marched around the city centre. Although many anti-fascists were able to follow them all the way to the train station. Many simply did not realise this was happening and at the same time a UAF organiser was still in the park on the megaphone declaring a victory whilst the EDL were being marched through the city centre.

It is clear that the EDL were shamed on Saturday but this won’t be the last time we have to deal with this kind of demonstration and lessons need to be learnt for the future of anti-fascist demonstrations in South Wales and Britain as a whole.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Fighting against job cuts at Uni Glam!

This tuesday saw a demonstration of about 200 people at the Main campus of the University of Glamorgan with smaler demonstrations held at another two campus'. The demostration was called by the Unison trade union in response to a proposed 40 compulsory redundancies amongst its members.

It wasn't just unison members in attendence but members of UCU, GMB and plenty of students as well. The turn out of students was particuarly impressive as it was not annouced publicly on the Student Union website until the afternoon before (though I may be mistaken) I certainly didn't find out until the afternoon and that was by chance from a brief discussion with a unison member.

The 40 jobs cuts which have been mentioned is just those threatened amongst unison members but there will also be job cuts coming in other areas of university staff as well and these are just the cuts which have already been announced. The fact that at short notice over 200 attended a demonstration during the exam period shows not only a definate need to fight back against the cuts but also that there are alot of people willing to be a part of such a campaign. There needs to be a co-ordinated campaign from all four unions on campus. Unison, UCU, GMB and the SU.

A united struggle of all staff unions and students is the only way in which we will be able to stop the cuts at uni glam and demand that management open up the books and show us where the money is going.

More to come shortly at the moment I am having difficulties uploading pictures of the demonstration

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Right to Strike?

Once again the scheduled BA cabin crew strike has been ruled out as illegal. The story is reported by the BBC here. The ruling of this strike as illegal comes after the scheduled strike at Christmas time had previously been ruled out by the High Court as illegal and since then another strike this time of RMT members had also be ruled out by the high court once again on a technical basis.

This all comes out even with Britain having already got the most restrictive trade union legislation in western Europe. The high court has ruled the strike out on this occasion as Unite had failed to inform every member of the result of the ballot. This of course seems to be an absurd notion for several reasons. There was no mention of any problem with the election process or with any member of the union being unable to vote or any problem with the result. The only problem is that not every member had been informed of the result! Unite had stated that due to the international nature of the industry they did the best they could have done, posting results on key notice boards, on the union website and via the use of e-mails and text messages. The only conclusion that any sane person can come to is that this has been a blatant attack on the democratic right to strike.

So we have the situation where three scheduled strikes have gone through a democratic procedure and voted for strike action only to be ruled illegal by a completely unelected High Court judge! A Unite official said it was "an affront to democracy in this country". And Steve Turner, Unite’s national officer said that "decent citizens had voted in an open ballot which had then been ruled out by the judiciary”. And went on to say “the union would hope to be in the Court of Appeal as early as possible, possibly on Tuesday”

But all this does beg the question should a legal challenge be the only route? It is not simply a case of High Court judges acting out of turn but the problem is systematic and the Court of Appeal is part of the same system. It is clear that this is a class war at this stage initiated by the ruling class against the organised working class and there is no indication that the Court of Appeal will be any different.

The situation trade unionists now face on top of the already restrictive laws on the right to strike are several recent precedents set in law now which further curtail or could even be said to make strike action virtually impossible, furthermore this attack comes in the most blatant and class biased of ways and therefore the time to defy the anti-trade union laws and these recent court rulings and launch wildcat strike action is now.

It is only by the trade unions defying these laws with the help and support of the rest of the labour movement that we can show these laws to be worth less than the paper they are written on and enter the coming struggles for jobs and public services in a position of strength. If the anti-trade union laws are not defied then it seems clear that this will continue to happen and possibly even worsen under a tory government and will mean that at the most critical time the entire trade union movement could remain stagnant and paralysed.

For further updates on the BA cabin crew strikes check out the AirStrike blog.

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