Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 12 July 2007

Wales Assembly

New coalition no answer to workers' problems

LABOUR PARTY Wales and the Plaid Cymru party have reached an historic agreement and formed a new government in Wales, the One Wales coalition. But the course of the Assembly government will change very little.

Dave Reid Cardiff

How long the coalition will last remains to be seen. Its programme promises more of the same, which will provoke growing opposition. As resistance grows to its policies the coalition could unravel.

The coalition document presented by Rhodri Morgan and the leader of the nationalist Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones, contains a number of pledges to slightly improve public services in Wales and marks a (very) small step to the left. But what is omitted is more significant than what is in it.

Working-class people searching for a way out of the problems of declining public services and poverty will look in vain for solutions in this document.

Plaid promises merely to slightly ameliorate the Gordon Brown government's right-wing pro-capitalist policies. It is business as usual for the fat cats in Wales.

On the key issue of hospital cutbacks, (the main reason Labour got its worst result in Wales since 1918 and allowed Plaid to gain seats) the document puts on hold existing plans to cut back hospital services but does not shred them. Instead it promises not to implement them until community services are in place and there is an "evidence base" for them.

Nevertheless the election's outcome has resulted in a partial victory for health campaigners across Wales by this retreat from carrying through the cuts immediately. It allows the campaigns breathing space to mobilise opposition to the new round of cuts through the consultation process.

The document claims to "move purposefully to end the internal market" in the NHS and rules out using the expensive Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for NHS capital projects in this government's term, but it does not rule out PFI in other areas of public services like schools and transport.

It also begs the question: how will the government finance NHS building projects without PFI? Will it issue bonds which allow private capital to make millions out of the NHS? Or will it freeze vital NHS building projects?

Unanswered questions

THE LABOUR-Plaid government does not promise to stop the programme of dozens of school closures in Wales. Any commitment to reduce class sizes and develop community schools is hollow without a promise to change the funding for schools to keep schools open. The day after the announcement of the One Wales agreement, Cardiff council announced the closure of two high schools in the city.

The agreement promises to keep underwriting top-up university fees for Welsh-domiciled students until 2009/10, which marks a victory for Socialist Students and other student campaigners against fees in Wales. However working-class students from Wales will still have to struggle without an adequate grant (or any grant) and pay over 1,000 a year in fees.

And it is very unclear about what will happen if Brown's UK government lifts the cap on top-up fees which is likely. There is a vague commitment to do "whatever is possible to mitigate the effects" of a rise in fees in English universities on Welsh students.

There is no mention, either, as to how Welsh universities can secure sufficient funding to compete with English universities and fund pay rises after 2009/10.

Similarly unclear is the commitment to hold a referendum for the Assembly to gain law-making powers. There is plenty of wriggle room for Labour leaders to refuse to call the referendum. Labour's Welsh MPs are adamantly opposed to more powers for the Assembly because their prestige and influence will be reduced proportionally and they will vigorously oppose a referendum.

Socialist Party Wales supports a multi-question referendum to allow working people in Wales to determine their relationship with the UK including the right to vote for independence. We would support a vote in that referendum for a Welsh parliament with law-making and tax-adjusting powers, with the ability to pass legislation to transform Welsh society.

But, as the last eight years of the Welsh Assembly have shown, the crucial issue is what party and what kind of politicians are in power in Wales. What is desperately needed is a new party to champion the rights of working people and fight for socialist policies in the Assembly, linking up with a campaign of militant action by working people across Wales.

Whatever powers the Assembly has, a struggle needs to be conducted to rebuild public services and to change society. Clearly neither Labour nor Plaid Cymru are capable of carrying this out.

An expanded version of this article can be found on the Socialist Party Wales website at

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 12 July 2007:

Fighting low pay, defending jobs and services

Victory to the postal workers

Public support for Post Office counters strike

National Shop Stewards Network

Bob Crow calls for new party

National Shop Stewards Network conference: A good starting point for strengthening struggle

Socialist Party workplace news

TGWU/Unite conference delegates cheer call for action on anti-trade union laws

Urgent appeal for solidarity from contract workers at the Gualberto Villarroel oil refinery in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Action needed to save the NHS

Campaign saves Swansea hospital unit

Sussex must fight back against NHS cuts

Durham health cuts show need for new workers' party


Wales Assembly coalition no answer to workers' problems

Cardiff: Fight school cuts and closures

Tales from the council chambers

Nurseries campaign embarrasses councillors

Southall Labour councillors cross floor

Council workers make a stand

Marxist analysis: history

The 'July days' - rich in lessons for today

Socialist Party news and analysis

London Underground derailment: Kick out dangerous profiteers!

Kwik Save workers betrayed by bosses and union

Socialist Party events

Socialist Party Youth and students

Socialist Party review

Political discourse can swing!

International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: union leaders call off biggest-ever strike

Slave-labour scandal in China


Home   |   The Socialist 12 July 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleCardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

triangleWarts-and-all account of class war and the struggle for LGBT+ rights

triangleFord workers vote for action

triangleCrunchy guitar and poignant dialogue in alt-rock homage to south Wales miners

Wales Assembly:

triangleWales Assembly budget: Labour piles on the misery


triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleTories torn - bin them now


triangleUprising to save the NHS!


triangleWhat we saw


triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea


triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!


triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni



PCS ballots members on the pay cap


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice