Welcome to the September edition of our monthly bulletin, providing you with the news of what is going on within the Caerphilly Constituency Labour Party.
Secretary’s Report: Bryn Hollywell
Despite the absence of any Labour Party meetings during this holiday period I have been busy in pursuing what I term as research work. I belong to a number of organisations such as Compass, CLASS, the Fabian Society, Progress and the Electoral Reform Society, not because I fully agree with all their policies, but they do provide me with detailed submissions on a range of interesting policies that a new Labour government could implement when they win the general election. These submissions form the basis of what is now commonly known as the “Hollywell Manifesto”, in other words, my own personal views on what should be contained in the Labour Party’s general election manifesto.
These “personal views” formed the basis of our discussions when we recently debated the National Policy Forum proposals for the general election manifesto. I was heartened that many, but by no means all, of my ideas were accepted and were duly submitted to the Party for consideration at our Special GC meeting on Saturday 6 June. For example my views on scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons programme were not accepted.
You may have read in the national press and the media that the Labour Party considered all these submissions under its new Policy Forum system during a weekend in Milton Keynes in mid July. I have received personal reports from many members of the NEC (National Executive Committee) on the very positive and constructive discussions that took place between the Shadow Cabinet, NEC members (including our Welsh representatives), and the trade unions during this weekend, which leads me to believe that many of the policies the Caerphilly CLP submitted will be featured in the final version of our manifesto that will be debated at Annual Conference in Manchester later this month. I will be attending the Conference as a visitor; this enables me to attend the Conference sessions and all the fringe meetings and social events that take place. We have two new delegates representing the Caerphilly constituency who will be attending their first Conference as appointed Delegates, Anne Pettit and Cllr Elaine Forehead, both from the Castell Ward in Caerphilly. They will be reporting back on their experiences and what policies were agreed at our October GC scheduled for Friday 10 October.
Welsh Labour will be debating its own policies for the next Welsh Assembly election due in 2016 at the end of November, and I have e-mailed all party members with details of the subjects that will be debated and if they are interested, will be invited to attend our Special GC Meeting on Saturday 6 September at the BTM Community Council offices, Newport Road, Bedwas, starting at 10:30am, to debate the draft responses I have prepared for each of the policies that will be finally agreed for the elections in 2016.
We have a special guest speaker at our next GC Meeting on Friday 12 Sept; Mari Williams, the Labour Party Candidate for our twinned constituency of Cardiff North, a vital marginal seat that we must win if we are to form the next government.
We will then devote the remainder of the meeting to a debate on the very important issue of local government boundaries and agree our response to the Welsh Labour consultation exercise on the Williams Commission Report. There was an interesting and well attended meeting held at the Caerphilly County Borough Council Chambers on Monday 11 August, organised by the Labour Group of councillors on the council. All party members in the three constituencies within the Caerphilly Borough, Caerphilly, Islwyn and the Rhymney area of the Merthyr & Rhymney constituency were invited. We heard the details of what the Labour Group will submit to Welsh Labour, but stressed that each of the three constituencies were entitled to submit their own views. I will be reminding all Party members of this important debate before Friday 12 September, and by that time we will know what the views of our colleagues in Islwyn and Merthyr are.
Article from Wayne David MP
Remember Morgan Jones
The Caerphilly constituency made history when it elected the first conscientious objector to Parliament. In 1921, the first Labour MP for Caerphilly – Alfred Onions – died. A by-election followed and most people expected the local miners, who dominated the local Party at that time, to select a senior pro-war official. But to many people’s surprise, the rank-and-file miners and Party members selected Morgan Jones.
Born in Gelligaer, Morgan Jones had been a local school teacher. He had resolutely opposed the First World War and had gone to prison for his beliefs. After the war he was blacklisted and was unable to go back to school teaching. Instead, he found work in a local colliery and then became a full time organiser for the Independent Labour Party (ILP).
After the war many people expected a “land fit for heroes”. What the returning soldiers from the front found was growing unemployment and grinding poverty as the long decline of the coal industry began to take grip. In this climate, both those who had supported the First World War as well as those who had opposed it, threw their support behind the radical, young Morgan Jones.
In the by-election of August 1921 Morgan Jones won a decisive majority. This was despite the efforts of the Tory/Liberal Coalition Government and the Communist Party, who fought their first Parliamentary by-election. In fact, despite the talk of a ‘revolution’ in Britain, the Communist Party lost its deposit.
Morgan Jones went on to become a Junior Education Minister in the Labour Governments of 1924 and 1929. He was also the Chair of a Select Committee and was one of the few Labour MPs to hold his seat in the catastrophic election of 1931, when Ramsay Macdonald formed a National Government.
This year, of course, marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. We should remember and pay tribute to all those who gave their lives, but we should also remember those, like Morgan Jones, who resolutely opposed the war.
Article from Jeff Cuthbert AM
The Scottish Independence Referendum and Wales
As many of us will know, Thursday 18 September is the date of the Scottish independence referendum. It’s easy to think this doesn’t matter in Wales, and, superficially at least, that is true. First and foremost, the referendum is a matter for the people of Scotland. It is they who will decide whether or not they want Scotland to be independent, and rightly so. Regardless of the referendum’s outcome, people in Wales will go about their lives, concerning themselves with the day-to-day issues that have always mattered –the economy; education; and the health service.
Nonetheless, the referendum is of importance to Wales. If the people of Scotland do vote for independence that leaves big questions about the relationship between the United Kingdom’s three remaining countries. England would now be bigger in terms of its share of population, as well as its share of Parliamentary representation. Wales and Northern Ireland would need to ‘punch above their weight’ much more. To this end, First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for a re-modelled elected upper chamber to replace the House of Lords, along the lines of the United States Senate, in order to ensure equal representation between the three countries.
Polls indicate that Scotland will vote to remain part of the UK. However, even this result will have an impact on Wales. Scots have indicated that they want more devolution, and the three main UK parties are all offering more powers to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a ‘no’ vote. Again, to this end the First Minister has called for a constitutional convention in order to discuss important legal and political arrangements – if Scotland gets more devolution where does that leave Wales? Carwyn has called for a ‘reserved powers’ model of devolution in Wales. This means that powers would be presumed to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly unless explicitly stated otherwise, and we feel that this – coupled with the devolution of certain fiscal tools; powers to determine large-scale energy projects; and powers over areas such as policing and youth justice – would give us a more effective devolution settlement, removing the need for endless constitutional tinkering.
I was born in Glasgow to a Welsh mother and a Scottish father, before being raised in Wales. Naturally, the union between Wales and Scotland is something very close to my heart. So while I personally hope that Scotland votes to remain in the UK, the referendum result – whatever it is – will have a significant bearing on Wales.
Caerphilly CLP Women’s Forum Report
The Women’s Forum have not met during August but want to make sure that all women are aware that we meet every second Monday of the month at Ty Penallta at 7pm.
All women members are welcome to attend and are encouraged to do so; we have growing numbers but are eager to welcome all women members new and old.
Our aim is that like-minded women meet to discuss issues of the day or issues which they wish to bring to the table; we have some interesting and diverse discussions and lively debates.
Our next meeting will be on the 8 September, Ty Penallta, 7pm when our guest speaker will be Baroness Gale, who will speak about the Women’s Charter and the need for all-women shortlists.
We are also in negotiation with Derek Vaughan regarding a visit to the European Parliament.
I look forward to welcoming everyone on the 8 September when we regroup after the summer,
Cllr. Barbara Jones, CLP Women’s Officer