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Ex-Welsh Labour council leaders back Communist candidate in general election

18 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Rob Griffiths. Photo marked CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Robert Griffiths,

Martin Shipton

Two former Welsh Labour council leaders have endorsed a Communist general election candidate who is standing in the seat once held by Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot.

Rob Griffiths, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, is standing in Blaenau Gwent, where he is backed by Bernard Assinder and Hedley McCarthy, both of whom led Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

Mr Griffiths told a meeting of his supporters in Abertillery that “the Labour Party under Keir Starmer has abandoned working class communities with its rapid shift to the right”.

Betrayal 

He accused the Labour leader of betraying many of his own members by breaking past pledges to tax bankers’ bonuses and the super-rich, renationalise gas, electricity and water, abolish Universal Credit, lift the two-child benefit cap on poor families, introduce a £28bn “Green prosperity plan”, end tuition fees and close down the House of Lords.

“As a socialist, I will continue to fight for these and other progressive policies if elected as this constituency’s next MP,” Mr Griffiths said.

It is estimated that 200,000 members have left the Labour Party since the last general election in 2019. Among them are Mr Assinder and Mr McCarthy, both of whom have signed Mr Griffiths’ nomination papers.

Mr Assinder said, “Rob Griffiths is a passionate defender of the rights of ordinary people. He will not stand by should the next government continue the austerity cuts that have so damaged the NHS and other services vital to our quality of life.”

Fighter

In a reference to Labour candidate Nick Smith, who is seeking re-election in the seat he has held since 2010, Mr Assinder told the meeting that the new seat of Blaenau Gwent and Rhymney needs a fighter for working class communities and their young people, not “a pretend voice for change, a Starmer poodle – that’s why I’m backing Rob”.

Twice Labour leader of Blaenau Gwent council Hedley McCarthy agreed, saying: “Rob Griffiths represents the traditional values and aspirations of our people, whereas the Labour Party in Westminster has deserted Valleys voters who have witnessed decades of decline in these communities.

“Starmer and his right-wing pro-establishment cabal have nothing in common with people here, so the election of Rob Griffiths as our MP would remind everyone that these Valleys exist and still demand social justice.”

The Communist candidate for the neighbouring Merthyr Tydfil & Aberdare constituency, Bob Davenport, will be speaking on Thursday (June 20) at a hustings meeting for all candidates organised by Merthyr Tydfil trades union council, of which he is secretary, at 7 pm in The Scala, John St., Merthyr Tydfil.

In 2019 Mr Smith had a majority of 8,647 over the second-placed Brexit Party candidate.

Last Autumn members of Blaenau Gwent Constituency Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in Mr Smith, reflecting growing dissatisfaction among some local party activists with his performance. The vote came weeks after he was promoted to the opposition front bench as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

Minutes

NationCymru was sent the minutes of Blaenau Gwent Constituency Labour Party’s meeting held on October 11 2023 which showed that a debate was held on the motion: “This constituency does not have confidence in our Member of Parliament.”

The minutes stated: “The motion was moved and seconded and the Chair opened the floor for discussion. Some members expressed a sense of conflict that they agreed with the motion and the strength of feeling amongst members but also felt that the priority needed to be getting the Tories out.

“There was a general feeling of a lack of confidence in the MP’s acknowledgement and representation of members’ views. Comments made included members saying they didn’t feel they could knock doors for the MP and that the CLP [Constituency Labour Party] needed a candidate that it could get behind in the election. A member read out a communication from the MP sending apologies to the meeting as he was campaigning in Tamworth [where a Parliamentary by-election is due to take place].

A vote on the motion of no confidence was taken. Some 16 members voted in favour, six against and there were three abstentions.

A longstanding member of Blaenau Gwent CLP, who did not wish to be named, said: “People on the left in the local party have been unhappy with Nick Smith for a long time, but now he has opponents on the right who are against him too. He doesn’t seem to be interested in the views of ordinary members and a lot of his local activity seems to be geared to photo opportunities. There’s unhappiness that he has been reselected automatically for the expanded seat of Blaenau Gwent & Rhymney.”

Mr Smith did not comment.


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Lazar Ionescu
Lazar Ionescu
26 days ago

Lots of romanticism in Wales for communism. Read the recent history of Romania, (where my ancestors were locked up and worked to death in the gulags for thought crimes) if you want to know what communism is really like. It is idolatry and deification of the state. One man’s utopia is another man’s gulag. If you don’t want to vote Labour vote for Plaid Cymru. Pleidleiswch dros Plaid Cymru. Cymru rydd ac Annibynniaeth. Rhyddid i’r cenhedloedd bychain.

Brad Bull
Brad Bull
26 days ago

There’s an element of the left left that wants and needs a Tory government so they’ve got a mission and status in life. Actually doing the hard graft of improving lives in government isn’t all that fun. Peace in Northern Ireland had the same problem because it meant many ceased to be important heroic freedom fighters in their own eyes.

Ffred Clegg
Ffred Clegg
26 days ago

I know what Robert Griffiths is and it is none of those things.

Hywel
Hywel
26 days ago
Reply to  Ffred Clegg

Care to elucidate, Ffred?

Poppy
Poppy
26 days ago

Will Plaid get a similar crack of the whip as this piece? How about the Worker’s Party candidate? He stands just as much of a chance of maybe getting his deposit back as this lot.

Last edited 26 days ago by Poppy

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