Archive article from The Socialist Issue 392
Discontent with the 'Blair project'
THE POLITICAL map of Wales remains overwhelmingly Labour, despite the fact that it lost five seats and saw its share of the vote drop by almost 6%.
Perhaps the most astonishing result of the election was rebel Labour Assembly Member, Peter Law, overturning a 19,313 Labour majority in Blaenau Gwent and winning with a 9,121 majority! Law stood as an independent, having being barred from standing as the Labour candidate by New Labour's use of an all-women short list to impose a Blairite from outside in the safest Labour seat in Britain.
Law rallied support by appealing to the socialist traditions of Aneurin Bevan in Blaenau Gwent, Bevan's old area. This remarkable victory highlights the discontent over the Blair project amongst some of the previously most loyal and traditional Labour supporters in the country.
Plaid Cymru also saw its vote drop again for the third time in as many years. Plaid lost its prized seats of Conwy and Llanelli in the 2003 Assembly elections and saw Labour re-capture councils like the Rhondda in 2004. Plaid had hoped to reach a record-breaking five MPs in 2005 at Westminster but instead saw its vote fall by 1.7% to 12.6% and lost its seat in Ceredigion to the Liberals.
Plaid, like the Lib Dems, has the problem of trying to face in two directions at the same time. It consciously tried to brand itself for this election as Plaid Cymru - the Socialist Party of Wales, in order to win the votes to the left of Labour, along with the Lib Dems. But that approach has not won favour in their more traditional territories.
This dilemma has also been complicated by their divisions over independence, which was highlighted by Simon Thomas, the defeated Ceredigion MP. He revealed that he had told colleagues he thought this objective was not achievable before 2050!
The Lib Dems replicated their national results in Wales, scoring strongly in the university seats of Swansea West and Cardiff Central.
Both Socialist Party candidates in Wales retained a solid core of support in Swansea West and Cardiff South and Penarth. This was despite the opposition in these seats from eight other parties including the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, all perceived to be to the left of New Labour.
The Welsh Assembly elections in 2007 will be another 'more of the same' contest between the main parties trying to make capitalism work in Wales.
Socialist Party Wales members will continue week in, week out to put forward a genuine socialist alternative and strive towards the creation of a new mass workers' party that can challenge the dominance of the capitalist parties and the system they represent.