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From: The Socialist issue 1022, 12 December 2018: Corbyn, unions: call action now. Finish the Tories off

Search site for keywords: Wales - Labour leadership - Labour - Cuts - Government - Welsh Government - Jeremy Corbyn - South Wales

Now fight the cuts! Corbyn supporter wins Welsh Labour leadership

Trade unionists in Carmarthenshire lobbying their Labour council for a no-cuts budget, photo Scott Jones

Trade unionists in Carmarthenshire lobbying their Labour council for a no-cuts budget, photo Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

Mark Drakeford, a self-described supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, has been elected as leader of Welsh Labour and will be elected as First Minister.

Of the three candidates for First Minister, Mark is considered the most left wing - he supported Jeremy Corbyn in the first ballot for Labour leader.

The other two candidates, Baroness Eluned Morgan and Vaughan Gething, are thinly disguised Blairites.

Most activists have welcomed his election as "a step in the right direction". But it remains to be seen how much of a change it will be from the era of Blair-lite Carwyn Jones.

Drakeford put forward a number of policies that workers would welcome. For example, he promised to ensure that any contractors bidding for Welsh government work conformed to ethical employment practices and to end 'holiday hunger' by providing school meals to children in school holidays. But the big question is what steps will be taken to fight to end austerity in Wales?

Drakeford's record as a Welsh minister does not inspire much hope that they will be big steps, if any.

For two years he has been the finance minister who has implemented the biggest ever cuts to Welsh public services.

Prior to that, he was the health minister who applied serious cuts when he re-organised hospital services, including the infamous South Wales Programme.

Strategy

To really improve public services and to start to tackle the scandal of one-third of Welsh households needing Universal Credit, a serious strategy would have to be adopted to fight the austerity being imposed by the pitifully weak Tory government in Westminster.

Thus far, Mark Drakeford as finance minister has continued the Welsh Labour policy of tamely implementing the cuts on behalf of the Tories - about 2.5 billion in real terms since 2010.

This year, education and schools are being targeted for serious cuts.

If Mark were to put forward a strategy of refusing to carry out the cuts, use the reserves and borrowing powers of the Welsh government and local authorities to keep services going, and mobilise working-class people in Wales to demand funding for services, he would gain a huge response that would rock the Tories on their heels.

The useable reserves of Welsh councils alone amount to 1.4 billion.

Mark should withdraw the threat to impose a social care levy on working people in Wales. The social care crisis has arisen because of privatisation and austerity.

But the Welsh Labour government has decided to tackle it by taxing working people in Wales with a regressive social care levy that will put an even greater burden on living standards while not solving the problem.

With Theresa May clinging to power by her fingernails and with the example of the 'yellow vests' forcing the government in France to retreat, it has never been a better time for a genuinely radical Welsh government to begin the struggle to reverse austerity.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 12 December 2018

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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