There’s no welcome in the hillsides
THE LABOUR Party in Wales was in turmoil this week as its leader, Alun Michael, faced a no-confidence vote in the devolved assembly. The immediate cause of the crisis is Chancellor Gordon Brown’s refusal to give funds to one of the poorest areas in Britain. The European Commission recognises that west Wales and the Valleys are among the most deprived parts of the continent.
But before the full 1.2 billion of European “Objective One” funds is released, the British government has to agree to commit a similar amount. New Labour refuses to give that pledge. In the Ceredigion by-election in west Wales last week Labour’s percentage of the vote almost halved compared to the 1997 general election. Even the despised Tories beat Labour. Labour’s vote fell in rural areas, on the council estates in the town of Aberystwyth, and among the 4,000 students in the area.
The feeling against New Labour is not just confined to Wales. The Labour Students organisation is not even going to offer a candidate for the leadership of the National Union of Students this year. After 18 years of unbroken Labour control, Labour Students know that the government’s policies-especially tuition fees-are so unpopular that they face humiliating defeat. As the feeling against Labour grows, it is time to build the fightback and focus the anger around a real socialist alternative.
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