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Perspectives for Britain 2017
Perspectives for Britain 2017
41. In Wales Labour faces some serious defeats in the council elections this year. In the Assembly elections it held on to 29 seats - enough to keep control with a Lib Dem minister - but this masked a big drop in its vote to 35% of constituency votes and 31% of regional votes. The results in the council elections could be even worse, with Labour likely to lose control of Cardiff council and possibly a number of valley councils. While the right wing will attempt to pin the blame on Corbyn, the principle reason for Labour losses will be the harsh cuts implemented by them on council services in Wales. The chickens will come home to roost for those Labour councillors who have passively passed on huge cuts that have hollowed out many council services. It will also be an indictment of Welsh Labour and its leader, Carwyn Jones, who have pursued New Labour-lite policies in the Welsh government cutting NHS spending even further than the Tories in England.
42. Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems will be the main beneficiaries of the fall in Labour's vote, although UKIP and the Tories will also rise. Plaid will probably benefit from a fall in Labour's vote in the valleys and join a coalition with the Lib Dems in Cardiff. But working class voters hoping for a change of direction from the Labour cuts will be disappointed by Plaid - as the experience in Carmarthenshire has shown where a Plaid-led council took over from Labour in 2015 the cuts continued despite determined resistance from council workers led by Socialist Party members in the county. The danger is that without an anti-austerity challenge being posed by Corbynista Labour candidates the way will be left open for Plaid, Lib Dem and UKIP to oppose Labour's local cuts, even though they will do the same or worse. With the motion moved by Socialist Party members calling for no cuts budgets being passed at Wales TUC conference, a way must be found to ensure that opposition to the cuts is fought for in the council elections in Wales.
43. The Welsh Labour leadership has thus far successfully 'handled' the influx of Corbyn supporters into the party in Wales. This is in no small measure due to the mis-leadership of Welsh Labour Grassroots, the Welsh arm of Momentum, which has actively discouraged any challenge to the positions of the right wing. And Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have effectively allowed a free hand to Carwyn Jones in Wales even on non-devolved issues, staying silent for example on the crucial issue of the proposed sale of Tata's Welsh steelworks. The right wing has used its grip on Welsh Labour to further consolidate its position on the NEC of the party with Carwyn Jones being allowed to solely nominate the Welsh representative on the NEC. The Corbyn surge did have some effect on councillor selections - a number of the more right wing councillors have stood down or been de-selected but generally they have not been replaced with Corbyn-supporting councillors who are prepared to fight the cuts. In some areas right wingers have left the party and become independent or Plaid councillors.