Theresa May claims that the Conservative Party are the party of working people. Obviously this is total horseshit and this is evidenced by, among many other things, the 2016 Trade Union Act. This Draconian piece of legislation was an unprovoked attack on the largest democratic movement in the country, a movement which works every single day to improve the rights of working people. It appears that the Welsh government also doesn’t believe Theresa May and Assembly Members (AMs) are working to undo the Tory restrictions on workers’ rights. This is an issue that is currently being overshadowed by the Tory attempts to use Brexit as a means to further erode the rights of working people, and they must not be allowed to succeed.
Questions about the constitutional settlement of the UK have been circulating the corridors of power since the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014, but the Brexit vote has reinforced the urgency of the situation. As I have previously said, Wales is often ignored in these debates due to the loudness of the SNP and the ongoing situation in Northern Ireland. However one of the major areas of debate for Welsh devolution has been the Wales Bill, which had been written by Tories in Westminster to devolve selected powers to Cardiff. Although it now appears that the Wales Bill will receive the support of the Assembly, the fight for parity of powers remains.
After a long night of results, the composition of Welsh Assembly has been revealed and it was thoroughly unsurprising. The polls were largely correct as Labour lost overall control of the Senedd, but the one thing that people didn’t predict was to losses of the Tories. The narrative of recent months had been that UKIP in Wales was attracting disaffected Labour voters, and whilst this is true, it appears that it was the Tories who lost ground to UKIP. The headline from the night will be that Labour lost, and whilst this is true, Carwyn Jones will probably remain as First Minister.
Since the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, political goings on north of Hadrian’s Wall have dominated the media headlines. Indeed after the 2015 General Election, in which 56 out of 59 of Scotland’s MPs were from the SNP, the media speculation swiftly turned to discuss the possibility of a second referendum. As a result of this focus many backbench Conservative MPs have called on more time to be devoted to English issues, possibly with the creation of an English Parliament.
The replacement of Peter Robinson by Arlene Foster as First Minister and other political issues that have their roots in Northern Ireland’s troubled past have also come to dominate the headlines. As time as trundled along journalists and politicians have begun to turn their eyes to the upcoming elections. In May the London Mayor will be elected along with MSPs in Holyrood and the usual local elections across the country. However everything I have just said has been with one massive omission: Wales. The media has completely ignored Wales and I think I know why.
The Labour Party of old is gone, the political dynamics have changed and the Left needs to unite behind a movement based on ideas rather than the rosettes worn by MPs on election day. The UK, in its current form, will not last the next twenty years so it is best for Labour to work with other progressive forces, especially at Westminster, to bring about better societies in Scotland, Wales and England. By establishing electoral pacts with other parties a left-wing government will be much easier to elect, but it is up to Labour to make such a move.
Being outflanked on the left by any party is a real danger for Labour going into any electoral campaign as the left of the Labour Party in recent years has been very patient with Blair and his Third Way ideas around ‘compassionate capitalism’.
As well as appealing to the base of the party, a left-wing Labour leadership must also show that as well as the more centrist policies to prevent a centre-left civil war, they are also willing to promote policies that could be described as more traditionally socialist.