What's the point in New Labour?

What's the point in New Labour? That's the question being asked by many working class people in Wales, particularly after all 11 Labour councils in Wales have voted for or are in the process of voting through vicious cuts to local authority jobs and services. People are asking what's the point in voting New Labour when Labour councils passively vote through Con-Dem cuts claiming "there's nothing we can do". These cuts if implemented will transform local authorities from providers to purchasers of services in a few years.

The lie that there is nothing Labour councillors can do was put to rest when Carmarthenshire County Unison branch produced and submitted a no cuts budget to Carmarthenshire County Council labour led council. Our branch called on Labour councillors to implement our no cuts budget and stand shoulder to shoulder with our members, their employees, trade unions, anti-cuts groups and the wider community and build resistance to the cuts (Unison policy). We called on them to use the time the no cuts budget would give them (three years) to build a mass campaign of resistance linking up with the other 10 Labour councils in Wales to fight the cuts.

We received no formal or informal response from the Labour leadership of the council to our budget but then we had been used to the sound of silence from them when it came to even criticising Con–Dem cuts so no change there!

The full council meeting held on Wednesday 19th February demonstrated the degeneracy of the Labour Party and how far it has come from being a party that in the past at times fought in the interests of working class people. Labour councillors were conspicuous in the absence from the debate. The reality is in voting through Con-Dem cuts they put their own self-interest and their political careers before council services they were elected to provide. Councillors prefer to hide behind council officers who in the case of Carmarthenshire the audit office in Wales have already ruled that their advice was unlawful on two occasions recently! Carmarthenshire Labour-led council, in coalition with Independents (Tories in all but name), also voted to end trade union secondments. It was claimed by council officers that this would save money, but this is clearly a political decision as Labour and Independent councillors attempt to stifle our branch fighting their cuts and representing our members' interests. They have made this decision as our branch has been resolute in opposing all cuts; something unfortunately we cannot say for many Unison and other local government unions in Wales to date.

In the recent past, some Labour councillors proudly told us they were ex-NUM members. It seems that it was right then to fight to keep the pits open, but it's not okay to fight to keep local government services now! It seems that in terms of its political evolution, the Labour party has taken an evolutionary dead end. It no longer represents working class people and is not fit for purpose. While we cannot rule out 100% that it cannot be changed, it would need a massive influx of working class people, trade unionists and youth, etc. That is as likely as a jelly fish developing a backbone. Watching the budget debate in Carmarthenshire County Council - the passiveness of the Labour councillors and the lack of fight when they all voted for cuts along with the Tory (sorry, 'Independent') coalition partners you could only draw one conclusion: we need a new mass workers party.

A Socialist Party and Carmarthenshire County Unison member


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