Trevor Jones unveils the political programme of the Communists which favours a far greater devolution of powers from Brussels and London including areas of industrial relations, culture, health and education.
Welsh Communists launched a new edition of our programme on 8 March 2015, in Aberystwyth.
Real Power for the People of Wales reflects changes in the Welsh economy, society and culture discussed at our party’s Welsh congress late last year.
With higher levels of poverty, sickness and other levels of social deprivation than most of the nations and regions of Britain, and thus greater reliance on public services and welfare benefits, people here have been particularly hard hit by Labour and then Tory-LibDem austerity policies.
The Labour government in the National Assembly of Wales, like the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition which preceded it, has pursued broadly social democratic policies. To a limited extent, these have shielded people from what would otherwise have been the even more catastrophic consequences of the austerity demanded by the London government, the EU commission in Brussels and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.
A series of initiatives have sustained jobs so that, for the first time in many decades, Welsh unemployment did not rise far above the British average even in a recession.
In particular, successive Welsh governments in Cardiff have refused to go down the road of privatising public sector facilities and services, notably in the NHS and education.
Furthermore, the administration headed by First Minister Carwyn Jones has taken Cardiff-Wales airport into public ownership, albeit through an arms-length arrangement, and intends to do the same in 2018 when the Arriva Trains franchise in Wales comes to an end.
This is the main reason why the right-wing media and Tory politicians from Prime Minister David Cameron down have waged a scurrilous campaign of smears and distortions against the NHS in Wales.
It also explains why the Tory-LibDem regime in London has been punishing Wales with deeper cuts to its national assembly block grant than to the Scottish parliament and equivalent departments in England.
On top of that, the Tories and Labour centrally are both committed to retaining the Barnett formula for such funding, which takes no account of social need and so deprives Wales of £200m a year.
That’s why Real Power for the People of Wales argues for greater economic and financial powers for the Welsh assembly and government.
An Economic Plan for Wales would guide the development of the infrastructure and our abundant energy and raw material resources to rebuild our industrial base. The Welsh government’s “outcome agreements” with public and voluntary sector contractors should be extended into the private sector so that public money produces the jobs, wages and products that are required.
The energy, public transport and waste disposal sectors should be taken back into public ownership to ensure the necessary levels of coordination, investment, development and sustainability.
We need additional revenue raising options in order to invest in research, science and technology where the Welsh economy lags behind its neighbours.
Wales would also benefit substantially from a redistribution of wealth across Britain. That’s why Welsh Communists support a united class struggle in a federal Britain to tax the super-rich concentrated in south-east England who hide their wealth at home and abroad via the City of London.
Real power for the Welsh people would also require the devolution of powers in other areas so that, for instance, neither the London government nor the Supreme Court could again block Welsh draft laws to restore a minimum wages board for agricultural workers or to force construction companies to pay compensation for reckless use of asbestos.
“People’s parliament” for Wales would extend the franchise to 16-year olds, empower electors to dismiss their Assembly Members by popular vote and allow petitioners with mass support to initiate parliamentary debates, resolutions and legislation.
Real power for Welsh workers would mean increasing the rights of their representatives at work to combat “blacklisting” and enforce social equalities and health and safety.
Real power for people and their communities means that devolution from Brussels and London should not stop at Cardiff. Communists favour the establishment of many more community councils with significant powers and funds of their own.
Real power for the Welsh people should mean promoting much wider access to education, culture and information. Free adult education, a new Welsh Language Act and democratisation of the mass media would help the Welsh people to express and enhance their unique multicultural identity, bound up as it is with a long and rich history of the struggle for social justice.
Welsh Communists recognise the priority that must be given to the present battles to defend all the social advances achieved over the past 150 years, many of which are now under threat. We know that the Wales TUC, trade unions and trade councils are vital to the protection of everything that defines a civilised society.
Alongside our friends and allies, whether or not in the Labour, Green and socialist parties or Plaid Cymru, we will work to build the People’s Assembly in local communities across Wales.
But we also understand the value of having a vision of a better, socialist society.
Real Power for the People of Wales is a guide to the action necessary to achieve it.