Monthly Archives: May 2015

Here we go! Tory savagery unleashed

Here we go! While traders at banks that illegally fixed markets to the tune of £billions are allowed to laugh in the face of the law, illegal workers in care homes, factories and farms etc. face having their pitiful wages confiscated.

Illegal workers fall into various categories:

  • entered the UK without authority
  • entered with false documents
  • overstayed their visas
  • worked while on a tourist visa
  • entered into a forced or fraudulent marriage

I have met and got know people in most of these categories, and especially the third category, in which they come to work in places such as the care homes I visit in the course of my own job. Their stories are usually full of courage and tragedy. I would not swap lives with any of them. I would swap Cameron’s life with all of them!

Cameron’s approach is so crudely thought through that it is virtually unworkable – which is the the closest I can get to saying anything positive about it. Most of the people it is targeting are, or soon will be if not already, living in the shadows.

I have worked with people whose working visas have expired. They have been working in the car sector tending to our frail senior citizens, dealing daily with severe dementia and incontinence, for less than the minimum wage, on zero hours contracts (if contracted at all), with working days well in excess of 12 hours. They generally cannot afford to rent more than a room, with that sometimes shared, and generally look to spend as little of their meagre income as possible so that they can send it home to relatives in even worse circumstances than themselves, often including their children that they have left out of desperation to try and find a way of supporting them. This can mean that when their visas run out, they generally have not got the means to even finance a return home. For some a return home is a return to a living nightmare of oppression, persecution and destitution. In these circumstances, choosing to disappear, to fade into the shadows, is their only realistic option.

THere is no way of knowing how many people are driven to this form of existence. Sky News ran a story that gives more of an insight:

No one can be sure exactly how many people live life in the shadows. 

We visited a Hindu temple which offers support to the local community – with a rising backlog of unresolved asylum cases many have struggled with immigration issues. Last year there was a 34% national increase in the number of people whose applications have not yet been dealt with. It prompted claims the delay is driving people underground. One man told us he thought the Home Office was trying to give the impression to people not to come to Britain by making the processing of applying for asylum drawn out. He said: “After being here for 10 or 12 to 15 years, if you ask them to go back to a place where they don’t want to go, I don’t think it is easy for them to do it.  And once that happens I know people will attempt to go underground.”

But among the congregation was a 52-year-old woman who says her plight has driven her to contemplate suicide. Bavani Amrithalingam came to Britain from Sri Lanka in 2010 – she says to avoid persecution. When all of her appeals to stay were exhausted she too simply disappeared from the authorities. With no home or job she relies on temples and the generosity of others for food. She says she left her children behind to try to make a life for them in Britain but this is not how she dreamt it would be. Unable to get a proper job, Bavani cooks and cleans for people she knows within the Tamil community – in return sleeping at their houses.

She said: “When I came here I never thought it was going to be like this. But I wanted to save my life. That was the reason I came here. I thought this country would protect me. I thought that Britain would grant me refugee status so that I could bring my children here to live in this country.”

Bavani is a former Tamil activist. Despite the trauma of being separated from her children she believes if she returned to Sri Lanka her life – and theirs – would be in danger.  Yet she lives in limbo because the UK authorities have told her she must leave – but have failed to do anything about it. 

“Every day I wake up and I am upset. I get depressed,” she said. “I’m having an extremely difficult life. I have no one to help me. I go to some people’s houses and do some odd jobs. I get some food, but no money at all. Like a beggar I ask people to give me five or ten pounds. I use that money for travel. I never had a life like this. I have so many problems. I’m doing any kind of odd jobs just to survive, to feed myself.  I can’t afford to send anything to my children. I have nothing, I don’t know what to do and sometimes I feel like killing myself rather than living in this country. I think about my children all of the time. Only a mother would understand this feeling. When I think about my children I don’t know what to do because I can’t get a visa to stay here. If I could get a visa then I could live with them and have some peace of mind. I have nothing like that.”

The Reverend Canon Giles Fraser, of St Mary’s in Newington, says Bavani’s desperation is not uncommon among those trying to resolve their status. He is used to dealing with migration issues amongst his south London congregation but says there is no political will to tackle the problems of those who are trapped in the system. He said: “What politician is going to want to put money into improving immigration services? No politician in our election is saying we should just make our immigration system more efficient or better, no one’s saying that. Most people are saying push them all out – it’s a very convenient form of scapegoating. Actually what’s happening is there’s loads of people here who are going to the sort of brutal faceless soulless places, dealing with the bureaucracy they don’t understand, that has no sympathy to them – it doesn’t listen to them.”

It’s difficult to know exactly how many illegal immigrants are in Britain. In 2009 the London School of Economics estimated the figure was between 417,000 and 863,000. There’s been no major study since.  

Immigration solicitor Fozia Iqbal said: “I don’t think there’s ever a full admission of how badly the system works and I think that’s the main problem. “There are people here who are perhaps not here legally and don’t have a lawful right to be here, but then they are not being removed, but then they develop rights here.”

THEY DEVELOP RIGHTS HERE!! I don’t know who told him that, and if he he is right, it won’t so much longer if Cameron and his fascist scumbag mates have anything to do about it.

Ironically, the most effective backlash to this pogrom is likely to come from Cameron’s business chums. They revel in a plentiful supply of cheap, low-skilled labour. It keeps costs down and profits up for God’s sake!! It is not as if it is costing British jobs as the Tories are constantly reminding us that unemployment is falling (thanks to zero-hours contracts and driving down of wages), so from the business point of view, if it is working for them, stop meddling David!

So given this state of affairs, the only reason for this campaign is the ideological war on the poor that is part of the Tory genetic make-up.

Five ways to well-being

I am coming towards the end of my 6 week Open University ‘Futurelearn’ Psychology course and the the conclusions it comes to are essentially that our mental well-being, while influenced by ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ factors, is primarily down to the interface between the two – how we respond to life-events. The good news in this is that we can learn to respond differently, and taken proactive steps to help facilitate better responses. These are listed below. They are not rocket science and I am sure most will recognise the positive benefits of this advice. All it really takes is a conscious effort to take the advice and act on it.

Source : Report by the Centre for Well-being, NEF (New Economics Foundation)

38 degrees – people power worth supporting

Rather than remain involved in the murky world of party politics, the more I find out about 38 degrees and the people behind it, the more I like it.

38 Degrees is an independent British not-for-profit political-activism organisation that campaigns on a wide range of issues. It describes itself as “progressive” and claims to “campaign for fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK”. In October 2013, it was reported to claim 1.9 million UK members.
38 Degrees takes its name from the critical angle at which the incidence of a human-triggered avalanche is greatest.

The organisation launched on 26 May 2009. Its founders included Gordon Roddick, co-founder of The Body Shop and Henry Tinsley, ex-chairman of Green & Black’s fair trade chocolate. The organisation launched during the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, and this formed the backdrop to early campaigns demanding voters were given more powers to sack MPs.
The founding Executive Director was David Babbs. Babbs was formerly Head of Activism at Friends of the Earth where he was responsible for the Big Ask Campaign. Babbs also previously worked at People & Planet.
At launch 38 Degrees said it was inspired by groups like MoveOn in the United States, GetUp! in Australia and Avaaz globally. These organisations all use the internet to mobilise people and connect them and their governments. 38 Degrees said that an organisation based on a similar model was needed in the UK.
In February 2014, Total Politics wrote: “For an organisation only set up in 2009, 38 Degrees has notched up its fair share of victories. It forced the coalition government’s first big U-turn, on the forests sell-off. It called for more free school meals – and Nick Clegg duly announced they were being rolled out for all infants. It raised enough cash to pay for the judicial review which successfully challenged health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to shut down key services at Lewisham hospital.”
It is not perfect and has its critics, but most of those are the predictable ones from the far right of the Conservative Party that I, for one, have no respect for at all. Their criticism is as sure a sign that they are on the right tracks and having an impact as you could possibly have.
Watch this video, and whether or not you are involved in a political party, consider supporting 38 degrees as force for good.

The Green Party – progress of a sort, but nowhere near enough

One thing the Green Party is getting good at is spin. Of course it is possible to draw out some positive statistics from this weeks elections:

  • Membership at an all-time high
  • More candidates than ever before
  • More deposits saved than ever before
  • Increased share of the vote
  • Councillor gains in local authority elections
  • 4 second places in general election

The reality behind all these claims is a bit more sobering however.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 21.09.56We heard a lot about our membership surging to become bigger than the Lib Dems and UKIP. In numbers that really count however we are still miles behind them both.
In terms of General Election:

  • Lib Dems 8 MPs still, with 2.42 million votes (vote share down 15.2% to 7.9%)
  • UKIP 1 MP, but 120 second places and 3.89 million votes (vote share up 9.5% to 12.6%)
  • Greens 1 MP, with 4 second places and 1.16 million votes (vote share up 1.8% to 3.8% )

In terms of the local council elections held in 279 councils on the same day:

  • Lib Dems 603 councillors (down 365), 4 councils controlled (down 4)
  • UKIP 195 councillors (up 171), 1 council controlled (up 1)
  • Greens 84 councillors (up 9), 0 councils controlled (losing the minority administration in Brighton as the party slipped form 1st to 3rd)

‘More candidates than ever before’ was a given with the huge rise in membership. What is more questionable was the policy of standing in as many seats as possible, even where there was absolutely no prospect of saving the deposit, and even when it was potentially obstructive to an anti-austerity candidate from another party. I’ll save the subjective arguments about that for now, but deal with some cold facts.

Yes, the party saved 123 deposits across England and Wales, compared to just 6 in 2010, but the other side of this coin is that the Party lost 442 deposits this time around (I think it was less than 100 last time). This translates to a whopping £221,000 blown on lost deposits – far more than ANY other party:

LOST DEPOSITS:

  1. Green Party £221,000
  2. Lib Dems £170,500
  3. TUSC £ 66,000
  4. UKIP £ 39,500
  5. Tories £ 5,500
  6. Labour £ 1,500

Value for money? You be the judge.

This has to be seen in the context of unprecedented exposure in the TV debates and much wider media coverage. The Party and Natalie Bennett clearly were not fully prepared for this and equally clearly failed to make the most of it.

As for Wales, over and above the national coverage, the Greens had the additional bonus of two Wales Leaders debates on TV and the advantage of a leader that had built her successful defence of her position on being a strong media performer in an age where media is all important, or so she claimed. The result:

  • 38, 000 votes for 35 candidates at an average of 1,100 votes each, or 2.6% (less than Greens UK average of 1980 votes and 3.8%)
  • 32 deposits lost (over 90% of them, compared to less than 80% lost nationally)
  • Lost deposits of £16,000 (around 800 average membership fees)
  • Bartolotti’s personal performance, given all the exposure she had, was 1,300 votes at 3.2% of the vote in Newport West

Looking at the three deposits saved offers some insight and pointers to the way forward, should they wish to learn anything.

CARDIFF CENTRAL 6.2% (5th place)
Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 21.28.52This seat was the focus of all the effort to get Jake Griffiths elected as an AM 4 years ago, effort that was largely squandered afterwards. It is also the seat that, independent studies of Green Party support demographics suggest, should be the best prospect for the Greens, not just in Wales, but the whole of the UK. In other words, if we could not save a deposit here then we really should give up! Having said this, given the turmoil and churn in the local party in recent times, I am not sure many actually expected the best result to be here.

SWANSEA WEST 5.1% (6th place)
Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 21.31.26This was the the area in which Ashley Wakeling put in such a huge effort in the Uplands by-election last year. His relative success here has therefore been earned by the good old time-honoured methods of knocking doors and having a profile in the community. With another 10 years of such effort he could earn the right to get close. But he won’t do that. He is a student who is unlikely to make a long-term commitment to staying in Swansea. The impetuosity of youth was also shown the the night of the by-election last year when he expressed the view that his (perfectly creditable performance) was unsatisfactory and indicative that he should look for another ward that he could storm more successfully. It just doesn’t work like that!

CEREDIGION 5.6% (6th and last place)
Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 21.33.01I mention the ‘last place’ because it was significant that there were only 6 candidates, unlike the two above that had to contend with 8 and 9 respectively (there were 10 in Bridgend!). This makes it all the easier to secure the magic 5% figure. Beyond this, it is also the seat with the longest history of meaningful Green activism and electoral activity. Indeed, the very first Green Party MP was elected here in 1992 – Cynog Dafis was elected on a joint Green Party/Plaid Cymru ticket. Chris Simpson put up his own deposit there in the 2011 Welsh assembly Election and got it back with 5.2% of the votes. Again, if they were not going to get it back here, given all the conducive circumstances, they would have to be doing something seriously wrong.

There is, of course, another dimension to the Ceredigion story. It is the seat that I have courted controversy over by urging the Greens to stand aside, in order to help the ecosocialst Plaid Cymru candidate to take the seat from the neoliberal Lib Dem incumbent. As it turned out, it would not have made the crucial difference that it might. Mike Parker needed another 3000 votes and the Greens only had 2000 votes. What proved critical here was the astonishingly strong local support for ‘Mark Williams, the man’, rather ‘Mark Williams, the Lib Dem’. Given the fortunes of Lib Dems more widely, he deserves respect for this achievement. Well done him!

This is not to say that I was wrong in the principle of what I was asking for. I continue to believe that a strong, united anti-austerity voice is needed if we are to ever defeat the establishment parties. Wales Green Party stand steadfastly against this and continues to bask in the shimmer of superficial success.

I have long maintained that political success has to be built from the ground upwards. Greens cannot breakthrough in big elections until they do it in local elections first. What hope is there of that in 2017 with the current approach of the Wales Leadership? I predict another attempt to run before they can walk next year at the Welsh Assembly Elections. Pippa will be spouting off about expecting at least 3 assembly seats before you know it. They will fall flat on their faces again, and further jeopardise the prospects of breakthroughs in 2017. Every effort and every resource should have been focussed on active party target wards for the last three years, rather than blown on vanity projects. With two years to go, no properly focussed ‘Target-to-Win’ work is going on anywhere in Wales to my knowledge.

Former WGP leader Martyn Shrewsbury has crawled out from under his stone hoping no-one will remember his fraud conviction and charlatan hypnotherapy practices.

Former WGP leader Martyn Shrewsbury has crawled out from under his stone hoping no-one will remember his fraud conviction and charlatan hypnotherapy practices. He is also a vicious internet troll who hides behind a range of names and persona.

In the circumstances, working with, rather than against potential allies has become more important than ever. But it is a call that continues to largely fall on deaf ears in Wales Green Party. There are several dangerously big egos blocking Wales Green Party doing the right things. Until the (new, naive) membership wake up to how politics actually works and signs up to the years of slog involved, and wakes up to the need for true progressives to work together across party divides , as advocated by Caroline Lucas this week, no real progress will be possible.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 21.42.12

On this basis, I am finally at a point of reaching out to Plaid Cymru and seriously considering joining them for the first time. I have lost patience with the strategic naivety of the Greens at all levels. There are serious issues within PC too, but I sense a greater willingness to address them. Their General Election was more a story of disaster averted (they were predicted to lose 2 of their 3 seats at one point) than meaningful progress made. They kept their 3 seats and kept their vote share. They lost only 8 deposits (£4,000) from all 40 contested. More encouraging is good progress in numerous areas, with a clutch of second places and stronger showings in some areas outside the traditional heartlands. They are in a good position to make good advances next year if (a big if) they can get the messaging right.

Life is a continuous learning curve. Those that learn quickest steal the advantages. The SNP showed this ability in adjusting its messaging post independence referendum. Therein lay the basis of their stupendous success. Let us see who learns quickest in Wales.

What must Plaid Cymru learn from the sweeping success of the SNP?

My first reaction, after the the outcome of the General Election became clear, was that I should pack my bags and move to Scotland. This was a gut reaction, but one that has given me serious pause for thought; thoughts that I feel need sharing if we are to ever share Scotland’s new air of optimism and commitment to real change, rather than continue under a cloud of despair as we find ourselves faced with Cameron et al completely untethered and unleashed, shaping our destinies.

My starting point has got be why I did not vote Plaid Cymru. It is well documented that I fully recognise the extent to which Plaid Cymru’s manifesto shares most of my ecosocialist core values. I also fully acknowledge Leanne Wood as one of the most talented politicians in Wales. The bottom line is that if they cannot persuade me to vote for them, then their chances of getting 50% of the vote and sweeping all before them, as the SNP have just done, are non-existent.

I believe that there are three main ingredients needed to connect with the electorate as the SNP have just done:

  1. Image
  2. Messaging
  3. Leadership

The SNP, after years of floundering around, finally got these spot on, and this allowed them to successfully capitalise on being in the right place at the right time. After failing to get the outcome that they were committed to in the Independence referendum last year, it would have been all too easy for them to have withered away.

Replacing Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon was the first essential piece of the jigsaw. Salmond was excellent and instrumental in getting the SNP to be seen as a viable party of government in the Scottish Parliament. He was also the right person to head the YES campaign re independence. He could not have carried on into this General Election campaign, however, and credibly delivered the messaging required to appeal to Scots across the land (that voted both Yes and No last year) and achieve the astonishing gains witnessed this week. But in Nicola Sturgeon, he had an excellent apprentice who could set about subtly reshaping the image and messaging required. This took outstanding strategic leadership, alongside the personal characteristics to convincingly sell the message to the electorate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 22.26.52Leanne Wood is on a par with Nicola Sturgeon, in my opinion. She has a natural ease and sense of conviction that connects with people. She has an engaging smile and a sense of fun, but can equally turn on the ‘don’t mess with me, I’m a Valleys girl‘ glare that stops anybody taking liberties with her. She is the right leader, especially given the lack of any appealing alternatives. Her personal image is just fine. The image issues are with her party.

At this point, I am going to inevitably start rattling some very predictable cages. I do so with some trepidation as I have fallen foul of the Welsh language fascists (in this sense)  before, but I do so in the hope that they will hear me through and see that I offer this analysis in a spirit of friendship and wanting to help Plaid Cymru emulate the SNP’s success. The first thing I need to stress is that these are not just my views in isolation. I am drawing on published sources as much as possible.

In dealing with problems of image, it is not even necessarily the case that the problem is grounded in reality. The Green Party, for instance, has longed been dogged by its image as the ‘hippy environmentalist fringe party‘, the classic ‘single issue party’ image that is totally at odds with the reality of a comprehensive ecosocialist agenda that they struggle to get people to listen to. The name does not help. Mentioning the environmental issues, that are taken as given, is a no win situation. Having members that are only too willing to pander to the stereotypical images seals the deal.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 22.36.46

Click image to get the story behind this sign

Plaid Cymru has exactly the same set of problems. Its prevailing image is as the ‘Welsh language preservation society‘, the classic ‘single issue party’ image that is totally at odds with the reality of a comprehensive ecosocialist agenda that they struggle to get people to listen to. The name does not help. Mentioning protecting and promoting the language, that is a given, is a no win situation. Having members that are only too willing to pander to the stereotypical images seals the deal.

A New Statesmen article,  written just a few weeks ago, cites this issue as its main answer to the question ‘Why aren’t Plaid Cymru surging?‘. I quote:

“The biggest problem for Plaid in the areas where it is failing to make the breakthrough only becomes apparent as I head north. Complaints about the amount the Welsh government spends on dual-language signs become laments about the vanishing language as English speakers move north. Fears about the mortgage become concern about being priced out by holiday homes. And public transport – and with it, links to the English cities of Liverpool and Chester, which ought to be the engines of growth, are brittle and unreliable.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 22.21.57When your image is inextricably linked to one issue (Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall all have some dual-language road signs without brow beating everybody about the languages), you alienate everybody, like me, that might agree with everything else you have to say, who have simply found no need to embrace the language despite living here 25 years, because you pander to the more unpleasant aspects of nationalism, such as racism, bigotry and hostility towards outsiders that are present in a small part of the membership. The New Statesmen article goes on to conclude:

“One Labour MP in Scotland mused to me recently that “the SNP’s great strength is their grievance is imaginary – it’s about a better state, a better way of living your life, a better politics…and that is very hard to fight”. Plaid Cymru’s weakness is that their grievances are more concrete: a fading language, communities cut off from the prosperous south of the country or England’s Northern cities. Progress in tackling them, far from strengthening the party, actually weakens it: one Plaid activist describes how, in years gone past, the Welsh language attracted hostility on the doorstep. “Now people think it’s sweet,” they sigh. And that may be the biggest problem of all for Plaid Cymru.”

Amongst the general electorate and typical Labour voter, whose political illiteracy cannot be over-estimated, certainly in the extensive parts of South Wales in which I live and work (I work with adults with poor literacy and numeracy), these image issues are usually the first, and certainly the most-cited, reason for not voting Plaid Cymru.
Q. “Why not vote for the strong socialist policies of Plaid Cymru?”
A1. “Well, I don’t speak Welsh!”
A2. “I might be Welsh, but I’m not that Welsh!”
It staggers me just how many don’t even know what Plaid Cymru translates to. They recognise it as welsh words, and many recognise the Cymru bit, but the Plaid bit flummoxes many. A woman I considered reasonably intelligent told me it meant ‘kilt’. Or should I say cilt? The SNP have no such problems. Scottish National Party is clear and unambiguous. And being universally known by the initials is even better. It is snappier and tucks away the ‘N’ word that puts some off. Plaid Cymru runs into problems relying on its initials, as PC has too many other uses with unfortunate connotations.

Professor Roger Scully (Professor of Political Science at Cardiff University) has been known to compare Plaid Cymru to Radio Three: “People are glad it is there, they are well-diposed to it, but they don’t want to listen to it themselves”. This re-enforces the ‘Welsh language preservation society’ image, and sits alongside the ‘Museum’ attitude of saying I want things preserved for posterity and to preserve our culture, but don’t expect me to visit it very often, even if you make it easy and free!

The SNP and PC are both seeking to be parties of their country’s best interests, so how can such ‘national’ parties dodge the intrinsically vile connotations of ‘nationalism’ to become parties of the people? The SNP have managed it, and PC patently have not. Beyond the image issues already discussed, the secret has got be in simple, consistent, straightforward messaging.

The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, got this spot on. The messages were:

  • We are NOT talking about independence
  • We are against the unnecessary austerity agenda of the Westminster establishment parties (broken down for the many that are unclear what ‘austerity’ means – protecting the public services we rely on; ending exploitative work practices; ending poverty; a positive future for the young)
  • Labour have consistently let us down because they have sold their souls to become part of the Westminster establishment
  • The Westminster parties should be given no mandate to control Scottish lives – we can do better for ourselves.

In essence, it was a very clear anti-austerity, anti-Tory, anti-Westminster message, and not an attempt to foster a post-referendum rise in nationalism (which would have failed). Sturgeon mentioned Westminster for more times than she mentioned Scotland in all of her dialogue. The message was always primarily about fighting the forces of evil, that everybody could relate to, rather than banging on about Scottish identity and making it a ‘Scotland hates the English’ thing that would have turned people off. It was underpinned by a strong record in power in the Scottish Parliament and a strong record in local government. This is the order of things. You build credibility from the ground up – via first local councils and then national assemblies. Only then can you aspire to dominate at UK elections as the SNP have done.

Plaid Cymru have a strong base of councillors on which to build, but they need to quadruple the numbers to overtake Labour (as the SNP have done in Scotland) and they need to start controlling some councils successfully too (PC control none at present, unlike the SNP). From here success can happen at Welsh Government level – where PC need to treble their representation to take control.

PC therefore simply did not have the right base from which to surge as dramatically as the SNP – but there are no reasons why they should not aspire to make huge inroads in the WG elections next year. Given that the SNP managed to re-position itself after the Independence referendum so successfully in such a short space of time, PC do still have the time to get it right, if they can get the image and messaging right. Leanne needs to stop banging on about fighting for the people of Wales (which gets subliminally translated as the proper Welsh people; you know, the ones that can speak Welsh, or at least pretend they can by having a few Welsh lessons), and keep the focus on the common enemy, which is the Westminster elite (including Labour) and their austerity programme of robbing the poor to give to the rich (although 11 constituencies voted for exactly this by electing Tories!! Another problem the SNP didn’t have to face as there was only one Tory seat to start with in Scotland – one of only 3 to resist the SNP tsunami). It was a tacit confession that this needs addressing when Leanne said this: Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 22.57.27

On top of the messages that were central to the SNP’s success (above), PC can add the leverage of Scottish Labour’s demise, and their woeful performance in both England and Wales, to press home the message that Labour are a spent force, finally being outed as the traitors to their proud heritage that has long been happening, but only now being widely recognised. (Labour MPs who voted in Jan 2015 for Tories ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ requiring £30bn of cuts in next 5 years: here)Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 23.02.33

If this is the way PC choose to go forward, then I am in, and will fight alongside them, indeed with them. If they want to carry on being seen as as little more than cultural guardians, then so be it. Valuable work, but not for me. There are far more pressing battles I want to fight and win.

One obstacle to me supporting Plaid Cymru has already fallen. I no longer see a future for the UK. Given the surge in Conservative support (Tory and UKIP) that has swept through England (they are effectively English Nationalists), leaving us with the prospect an unbridled assault on the vulnerable by Cameron and co., I have come to the conclusion that whatever the difficulties it might bring, home rule for Wales is the only way to get out of their firing line. It is very surely time to exercise our right to self-determination, as the future we can determine for ourselves can only be better than that which the Tories will leave us. Without 40 plus seats in Scotland for Labour, it is hard to see how we can ever shake off the hold of the Tories. A renewed drive for Scottish independence seems almost inevitable, leaving us with these unpalatable images (of the 2015 GE outcome and a post Scottish Independence UK) to digest:

If Plaid Cymru cannot welcome in a committed ecosocialist, who happens to also be a bit of a cultural heathen, then it has no prospect at all of appealing to the size of support achieved by the SNP currently. Let us see what happens.

It’s polling day! Here are Bridgend’s Vote for Policies results (with postscript)

BRIDGEND SURVEYS DONE BY 836 PEOPLE – these are presumably politically literate, well-educated people (high literacy levels needed to negotiate the survey). It is a good sample size. How will the actual poll compare? There are also 4 other candidates (Pirate/TUSC/NF/Ind) to further complicate things.

This is based on gut instincts rather than any canvassing, but I predict:

  • Labour 32%
  • Cons 24%
  • UKIP 15%
  • Lib Dems 13%
  • PC 8%
  • Greens 4%
  • Others 4%

I hope I prove well off with these, with Greens saving their deposit and the collective anti-neoliberal vote (PC/Green/Pirate/TUSC) doing hugely better – but it is hard to see past Madeleine Moon continuing to show a modicum of interest in Porthcawl, ignore Bridgend town, and continuing to do as the red tory whips tell her.

Your Constituency

And did you know that 836 people took the survey in your constituency? Here are the results for Bridgend.

bridgend.png

Labour
Green Party
UKIP
Liberal Democrats
Conservatives
Plaid Cymru

If you’re still undecided, these links might be helpful:

Thanks again for using Vote for Policies. I hope the election brings a positive result for you.

Happy voting!

Matt & the team

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open.php?u=30240882&id=82849a35fda0425ba7408e718effcbc9P.S – My predictions proved to be a bit of a mixed bag. Labour’s 37% (my guess 32%) shows how entrenched the Labour instinct is around here despite having served no-one’s interests but their own for a long, long time. How the Tories managed to increase their share by 2% to 32% (24%) flabbers my gast. I take no pleasure in getting UKIP’s 15% spot on, and was only one off with PC at 7% (8%). The Lib Dems collapsed more than I, and just about everyone else, anticipated, losing their deposit into the bargain at 4.2% (13%). The Greens 2% (4%) was also a big disappointment, given the work we have done over the last 5 years, but parachuting in someone from outside did not help, and I guess I have to take some blame for this by withdrawing my own candidacy.