Blaenau Gwent - a new kind of politics?


ITV's opinion poll reveals that Blaenau Gwent 'People's Voice' looks like retaining its Assembly seat while putting up a strong fight for the Westminster seat in the double header election on June 29.

Trish Law is ahead of Labour by 43-40 for the Assembly seat while former steelworks union convenor Dai Davies trails New Labour pharmaceutical lobbyist Owen Smith by 47-35. All the other parties will be lucky to retain their deposits as the voters rightly concentrate on the key battle between New and Old Labour.

Peter Law, a man who was never afraid to call himself a socialist, has left a real legacy in Blaenau Gwent and this can be seen as a watershed for Labour in Wales. If it loses both elections, there is a real chance that a new politics could emerge that breaks free from the Labour monolith.

People didn't stop voting for Labour because of the all women's shortlist. It was because of the Iraq war, the full-on privatisation and pro-capitalist ethos that has permeated the party from Westminster down, the failings of the NHS and other public services, the cuddlying up to big business and abandonment of core constituencies in the race to win over Middle England.

Labour faces an uphill battle against a credible opposition in Blaenau Gwent - and there are signs that other core Labour areas are revolting. In Merthyr, there is a People Before Politics alliance running the local council, there are links being formed between People's Voice and activists from other valleys at a time when New Labour has run into the choppiest waters of the last nine years.

Blair is on the way out, Brown looks vulnerable. Rhodri Morgan is on the way out with no obvious successor. A resurgent Tory party could sneak into Number 10 while the opposition parties in Wales look like gaining seats in various areas against Labour.

People's Voice could speed up the demise of New Labour rule in Wales and that can only be good news for democracy in our country.



This article first appear here on Seren

June 2006

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