Welcome to the January edition of our monthly bulletin that provides you with the news of what is going on within the Caerphilly Constituency Labour Party.
Secretary’s Report by Bryn Hollywell
I hope all of you had a wonderful time over the Christmas and New Year festivities; enjoyment and a good rest are a potent force for every individual to re-charge the batteries and look forward to a crucial new year in 2014. Our first GC Meeting of the Year will be on Friday 10 January, starting at 6:30pm at our usual venue, the Council Chambers at Ty Penallta, Ystrad Mynach.
Do you wish to get involved in creating the Labour Manifesto?
The Tories, guided by a right-wing Australian election strategist, will be using their considerable funds and friends in the media, in promoting a daily barrage of lies, distortions and negative propaganda, designed to denigrate anything to do with welfare, benefits, immigration and unemployment. However, under Ed Milliband’s leadership, we will and can overcome the Tory message of despair by a programme that directly addresses the real day-to-day concerns of millions of families, such as the cost of living (Ed’s message on freezing energy prices has really spooked the Tories) and his recent announcement on the need for more house building has also resonated well with all those who aspire to buy and live in affordable, decent houses.
There are many other exciting plans being considered by the Party’s Policy Forum for inclusion in the May 2015 General Election manifesto, and all party members here in Caerphilly can participate in these debates. In February I will be circulating a summary of all the various subjects being considered by the NPF (National Policy Forum), and asking you to choose which subject(s) you wish to get involved in. I will then send you a draft response for comment which we will then debate in a special meeting before the deadline for submissions in June. I do hope you will get involved in these debates.
European Parliament Elections
Elections are due in May 2014 under the system of proportional representation. We can vote for all of our 4 Labour candidates, led by our MEP, Derek Vaughan, and if we secure enough votes we could win increase the number of seats that we hold in Wales. We will be canvassing every Saturday morning from 11 January onwards from 10:30am to 12 noon. Details will be available at Friday’s GC Meeting. When we are in your area please try to attend our canvass and get involved, or become a member of our Saturday morning canvassing team.
Another aspect of our election campaign is to concentrate on those who have a postal vote. Records show that people with a postal vote are much more likely to cast their vote than those without one. If you wish to have a postal vote, or you are aware of family friends or neighbours that you think might benefit from having a postal vote, please let me know and I will forward your request to the Electoral Registration Officer at Caerphilly Council, who will then post the forms for completion and registration to the applicant.
Article from Wayne David MP
Food banks – a lifeline for more and more people
A few weeks ago I met with some of the volunteers who run the Rhymney Valley food bank when they were collecting food donations from people at the Tesco store in Ystrad Mynach. They do an excellent job providing food aid for an increasing number of people across the Rhymney Valley.
Rising food poverty is a national scandal. According to an independent study, food prices have risen by more, on average, than other goods, which is part of the reason why six in ten people say they are worried about how they will be able to manage their future spending on groceries.
The reality is that many of the people who are forced to rely on food banks are in work, but struggle to make ends meet on low pay or irregular hours. With rising energy and grocery bills they face impossible choices between eating, heating or paying the rent.
The Trussell Trust, which runs most of the food banks in this country including the one in the Rhymney Valley, provided food for 44,756 people in Wales between April and November. This is an increase of 134% on the same period in 2012. The Trussell Trust also fed more people in the first 8 months of 2013 than they did for the whole of 2012.
This shocking rise in the need for food aid is, according to the Trussell Trust, mainly due to the decision by the Tory-led Government to introduce the bedroom tax – yet another example of how unfair the bedroom tax is proving and why it should be scrapped. The Trussell Trust also says that 35% of people who have been referred to food banks needed this help because there was a delay in their benefits.
In the House of Commons just before Christmas Labour held a debate on food banks. While Tory Ministers sought to blame everyone but themselves for the huge increase in the number of food banks since they came to power in 2010, Labour put forward practical solutions.
The only way that we will solve food poverty in the long-term is by putting into place a proper plan to deal with the cost of living crisis and ensure an economic recovery that works for everyone. That is why we need an energy price freeze, action to end the abuse of zero hours contracts and more workers to be paid the living wage.
Article from Jeff Cuthbert AM
2014: The Year Ahead
As I write this, 2013 is drawing to a close and we look forward to a restful Christmas break, before what will be the busy political year of 2014. In my contribution this month I’ll look at some of the political events of the year ahead.
The Wales Office has just published its draft Wales Bill. While it is a UK Government piece of legislation, the Welsh Government will take an active interest in the Bill. Indeed, we have welcomed the Bill with certain caveats:
• We are disappointed that air passenger duty will not be devolved, as this would have been of benefit to Cardiff Airport;
• We will only commit to a referendum on income tax-varying powers for Wales if we secure guarantees on reform of the Barnett formula, which currently short-changes Wales by £300 million per year;
• Should income tax be devolved, then we are disappointed that tax bands will all have to be varied together, rather than individually.
Interestingly, the Bill also includes an end to Labour’s ban on ‘dual candidacy’ for Assembly elections, so candidates who stand in constituencies can also stand on regional lists. This will be of benefit to the opposition parties so it’s little surprise that the Tories and Lib Dems are bringing this back – indeed, will Plaid’s Caerphilly candidate for 2016, Lindsay Whittle, also make use of it?
The National Assembly for Wales will have a busy timetable this year, as the Welsh Government presses ahead with its Programme for Government. As Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, I will be responsible for driving through the Future Generations Bill, which will seek to tackle the generational challenges Wales faces in a joined up and integrated way – ensuring Welsh public services make key decisions with the long term wellbeing of Wales in mind.
Finally, 2014 will also see the European elections. It is important that we work hard to return as many Labour MEPs as possible in Wales, and we have excellent candidates. There has been much hype about UKIP’s prospects, and their plans to withdraw Britain from the European Union (EU). As a Minister who works closely with programmes supported by the European Social Fund, I see first-hand the value of EU membership when it comes to tackling poverty. We must stop UKIP and expose their agenda.
Happy New Year to you all, and here’s to a prosperous and successful 2014!
The Members Annual New Year Draw will take place this Friday (10 January) at the GC Meeting.
It is not too late to return your payment and counterfoils to be in with a chance of winning some great prizes that are on offer this year. The top three prizes are cash prizes of £100, £50 and £25. There is also a case of quality wine and many other prizes. But ‘you have got to be in it to win it’ so if you have not already entered, please return your counterfoils (and payment) before Friday.
We would like to say a big thank you to all members of the CLP’s 250 Club for their support over the past year. We are also very grateful to all the members who have recently sent in application forms to join the 250 Club. The 250 Club is a fun way to make a small regular donation to the CLP. For just £1 per month, you can help raise funds for the Party and you have the chance to win cash prizes of £25, £10 and £5 every month. For an application form, please contact Lisa Jones on 07811 104389 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org