By Maria Carroll
Last week, guest author Maria Carroll wrote movingly about her own experiences as the daughter and mother of soldiers and the state’s abandonment of veterans to cope alone with the mental health issues that can follow service in the military. This week, she describes the impact of Jeremy Corbyn and the movement that has coalesced around him on national and Labour politics in Wales and Jeremy Corbyn’s visit there later today:
On Thursday 22 November the people of West Wales will welcome Jeremy Corbyn.
In last year’s general election, West Wales did amazingly for Labour as voters responded to Labour’s manifesto. In each of its four constituencies our vote share increased. In Preseli Pembrokeshire – now Labour’s top target seat – an amazing campaign by Labour members almost unseated Stephen Crabb, one of four Tory Secretaries of State for DWP who have presided over the roll out of Universal Credit. And it is here in the heart of Preseli Pembrokeshire, Haverfordwest, that Corbyn begins his visit to these rural constituencies.
Pembrokeshire has one of the UK’s most active rural groups of the People’s Campaign Against Austerity. Members of that group are determined to welcome Corbyn to Haverfordwest West and have arranged a street salute to honour and mark his visit in a show of respect for the man whose team made people aware that austerity is a political choice. To join the welcome meet outside the Milford Arms in Haverfordwest, check the group’s Facebook page for full details.
Corbyn visits as, in Westminster, a general election may come at any day; the Government is in disarray over Brexit; the DUP has voted against the Government, whose latest DWP Secretary has dismissed the UN Rapporteur’ Report on Poverty and Austerity in the UK.
Here in West Wales, Universal Credit is to be rolled out from 1 December. Seven thousand families will be affected and we know that many will face a five-week wait for help just as Christmas approaches. We are about to hit winter pressures in our health and social care system and communities are still fighting to stop bed closures and losses of Accident and Emergency services at Hospitals.
Meanwhile County Councils are to make serious cuts to services yet one of those Carmarthenshire County Council led by a Plaid administration cannot, or will not, answer Labour’s questions on how much it spent and intends to spend on Consultancy Services.
Moving onto Carmarthenshire, Corbyn will address a rally which is open to all, before he moves onto Carwyn Jones’ farewell in Cardiff.
But not only are Labour members currently electing the next Leader of Welsh Labour, that election campaign comes as Welsh Labour is conducting a democracy Review, which is an opportunity for members to radically alter the way devolved party rules and services are delivered in Welsh Labour. That review was won by a coordinated campaign by Labour members in their constituencies across Wales, supported by Trade Union Affiliates culminating in a vote of support at Welsh Conference 2018.
That cooperation and solidarity continues across West Wales and on Saturday members from the four West Wales constituencies have jointly organised, together with Welsh Labour Grassroots/Momentum in Wales, a Democracy Roadshow with Chris Williamson MP.
At this meeting we will be seeking views and an opportunity to debate democracy and how members in Wales can shape Welsh Labour into a member-led movement and not a led member organisation – and we will also be organising a collection for our local foodbanks.
If you can contribute please bring your donation to the meeting on Saturday and if you can’t make that but are attending the Corbyn rally party members will be happy to take your food bank donations.
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