Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Socialist Electoral and Class Struggle Alliance in Wales now

Cynghrair Gweithwyr Cymru/Workers Alliance Wales

What are the lessons of the recent Euro elections? Here in Wales, hundreds of thousands of workers boycotted the poll allowing the Tories to come out on top in a national election in Wales. It was a very bad day for Wales. It was the first time Labour have failed to come top in Wales since 1918 and we even saw a candidate for the hard right UK Independence Party elected. New Labour has effectively disenfranchised huge swathes of the working class who can no longer bring themselves to vote contrary to their interests for the sake of some nostalgic loyalty. But their votes did not go to Plaid Cymru and there was no other well enough known alternative in place to switch to. They simply stayed at home whilst right wingers made hay.

Clearly Plaid Cymru is not socialist enough. Whilst its cultural and soft-left approach is effective in the West, only a socialist programme in the teeth of this recession will be sufficient to give voice to the now voiceless South Wales working class and its communities. In addition, Plaid’s attempt to spearhead a parliamentary coup against the Labour government when the Tories are riding high in the polls will not have impressed. That said, Workers Alliance Wales would not be interested in perpetuating the anti-nationalist sentiment of the Labour machinery anxious to defend its own sectional, bureaucratic interests by dividing the Welsh people. We would support a referendum on a Welsh Parliament and also campaign for a yes vote in such a referendum. We would support all things that advanced the Welsh culture. We would, however, remain socialists first and prioritise work in the labour and trade union movement.

There is then a large swathe of disenfranchised workers in the South who can no longer vote New Labour and who, for whatever reason, do not see Plaid Cymru as a natural alternative. This is the constituency that Workers Alliance Wales is interested in. We want to give this most important section of society a voice. As was said WAW is not sectarian, it would not stand candidates against Plaid in the West or any constituency in the South where it has a good chance of winning. It would also not stand against a number of left labour MPs or candidates. Our target would be New Labour and corrupt Labour MPs and candidates who are likely to lose to Lib Dems and Tories and whose election in any case would bolster the right of the Labour Party and do nothing for the people. An alliance would do nothing to oppose the People’s Voice MP Dai Jones from getting re-elected. On the contrary it would positively support that outcome and would hope that People’s Voice would join and help to establish Workers Alliance Wales. Politically any alliance should consider Respect in England a sister party and possibly the Scottish Socialist Party in Scotland similarly. Workers Alliance Wales would be a broad alliance of radical socialist forces from a number of different backgrounds and traditions. It should look to establish a party structure whereby affiliated organisations are delegated through their own internal mechanism to 40 per cent of the executive whilst the other 60 per cent are elected at annual conference having been delegated to attend by local constituency branches. Branches will eventually select parliamentary and other election candidates.

Should any of our candidates be elected they should be instructed not to join any government or any other party’s whip. They should propose and vote for that which is in the interests of the working class and oppose that which is not but they would never vote with class enemy parties to bring down a Labour Government to the benefit of the right. The positions they take will be the product of thoroughgoing internal alliance discussion either held in public or subsequently made public and they will be employed by the alliance at rates democratically decided. Any salary they receive from the state should be paid into alliance election fighting funds. The Alliance should view the election of candidates not as an end in itself but as a means to an end. Its main objective should be the encouragement and building of the working class movement as a whole and its branches should be like local working class and community parliaments.

An alliance programme must be radical socialist. It should include the following basics but should be adaptable and put intelligently in accordance with the prevailing political possibilities and priorities:

Nationalisation of the job-cutting and supplier squeezing multi-nationals under workers control;
Nationalisation of the banks into one state bank each for Wales, England and Scotland;
Bring the monopoly service providers who are using their position to skin consumers into public ownership;
Cheap credit for small businesses and farmers;
Local tax collection;
Not economic growth but economic consolidation is the order of the day
Share the work: unemployment is ruining both the employed and the unemployed financially not to mention the tax payer but is seriously undermining our class as a class;
Share the work: halve the working week for female and male equality in the home and the workplace;
Share the work: productivity gains to be directed towards cutting hours not jobs;
Share the work: release our energies for use in the community so that police, social workers and the rest of state paraphernalia are no longer required in our abandoned communities to look after our children and old people or to keep a watchful eye on us and so that industry can be released from crippling tax burdens so that its surplus can be socially distributed to make life better;
Share the wealth: homes, heating and quality food for all. There are already plenty of these available they must be properly distributed;
Share the wealth: supermarkets profits to be distributed to the towns and districts they allegedly serve to pay for local services instead of being paid out to distant shareholders or into the Swiss bank accounts of over-paid executives.
Repeal all anti-union laws;
Family committees to determine the true rate of inflation;
Workers control of hiring and firing and immigration;
Fair and humane treatment for asylum seekers and an amnesty for illegal immigrants who are here already;
Participation in any serious anti-fascist and community self-defence initiatives;
An end to the parasitic and imperialist relationship of Britain to the developing world;
An end to global migration based on economic disparities which is turning workers into rootless tramps;
Sovereignty for Wales and a federal Britain with any areas of pooled sovereignty administered by instantly recallable delegates from the constituent nations selected as each nation sees fit;
No to the neo-liberal EU, social dumping and the race to the bottom: for a socialist united states of Europe;
A serious, urgent and comprehensive programme of carbon reduction to save the environment for human habitation in alliance with our global friends.

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