Socialist Worker

Blaenau Gwent and the Blair witch-hunt project

Issue No. 1953

Labour's leaders have launched a brutal witch-hunt in the Blaenau Gwent constituency in South Wales, designed to eradicate anyone who dares to stand up against Tony Blair.

The Blaenau Gwent result was one of the most memorable moments in the 5 May election. Independent Peter Law defeated Labour’s Maggie Jones by over 9,000 votes. Previously Labour had an 18,000 majority.

Now Labour has turned on those within its ranks who supported Law. The outcome will be increased bitterness against the party—and a greater readiness to look at alternative radical parties.

Peter Law was the local choice to be Labour’s candidate. But the party’s leaders used an all-women shortlist to get Maggie Jones, a Unison union official from London, inserted into the “safe seat”.

Peter Law’s campaign became a focus for all those angry with Blair, including many within the local Labour Party.

Victorious

The Labour Party’s national executive was discussing the expulsion of around 20 people as Socialist Worker went to press. Maggie Jones remains a member of the party’s national executive, the body that will determine the fate of those who supported her victorious opponent.

Almost as soon as the Blaenau Gwent result was announced, Labour officials began drawing up lists of members who had supported Peter Law—nominating him for the election or attending the count with him.

Others were picked out for putting up a Peter Law poster.

“We know the last vestige of socialism has disappeared under New Labour, but what we are seeing here is McCarthyism under Tony Blair,” said Peter Law.

Frank and Jean Heath from Cwm are among those expecting to be expelled. Frank Heath has been in the party for 45 years.

Radical

Another of those targeted is Elena Evans, a Labour Party member for more than 20 years. She faces the chop for writing a letter to the Western Mail newspaper.

Her letter complains about hypocrisy and double standards within the party, but at no point does Elena Evans urge voters to back Law.

Also on the list is Peter Law’s daughter, Delyth. “I’m very proud of her,” said Peter Law. “She is a good radical and stood up for the people.”

Brynmawr town councillor Ian Morgan says, “I can see a situation where the Blaenau Gwent constituency Labour Party destroys itself if this split continues. They could well lose seats at the county borough council elections.

“Some people might think it’s pie in the sky to say that, but it isn’t. I think Peter’s win has opened people’s eyes to the fact they do not have to vote Labour.”

Does anyone still believe that Tony Blair is “listening to the voice of the electors”, or that New Labour’s leaders will tolerate anyone with radical ideas inside the party?


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Sat 28 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1953
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