Archive | March, 2012

Where there’s the political will there’s another (Welsh) way

30 Mar

by Hannah Blythyn

This is a short tale of two cities – London and Cardiff – and the ever expanding political gulf between the two. First we go to London, home to the UK Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government.  A coalition that is presiding over swingeing cuts – to public sector jobs, pay and pensions, to local services, to the tax credits that many families rely on to make ends meet and much, much more. A government that has hiked up tuition fees to astronomical levels and destroyed the NHS in England as we know it. A Conservative led administration – with the Liberal Democrats complicit in coalition – hell bent on rolling back employment rights on unfair dismissal and access to tribunals and chipping away at the health and safety legislation that protects people from injury or worse in the workplace.

Lest we forget, as unemployment across the UK reaches record highs one of the first acts of the UK coalition in the heady honeymoon days was to axe the Future Jobs Fund. Then this month they announced a freeze in the minimum wage for workers aged 18-21 years old.

They say that there is no alternative to the road they are travelling and the agenda of austerity.  But just a couple of hours away (on the not yet electrified West Coast mainline) we arrive in Cardiff and the base of the Welsh Labour government. This is a government that has been consistent in its principle to keep privatisation out of the NHS, proud to declare “The NHS made in Wales, is safe in Wales”. The same government that unlike their UK counterparts, has refused to raise university tuition fees to £9k a year for Welsh domiciled students and almost immediately after getting elected last year set about bringing in Jobs Growth Wales. Jobs Growth Wales is a £75 million scheme to create 4,000 jobs a year across Wales for unemployed young people aged 16 to 24. Participants are paid at or above the minimum wage for at least 25 hours a week, not simply supporting young people into work but helping Welsh businesses to expand and having a positive knock on effect on the economy as a whole.

This builds on the earlier Welsh government initiatives such as Pro-Act and Re-Act to help employees and employers in the private sector when the recession started to kick in.  The Welsh Government may not have responsibility for employment rights but it places great emphasis on social partnership with the trade unions and is demonstrating a commitment to the social responsibility of employers.

It goes without saying, that in the current economic climate there remain challenges in Wales but devolved politics is demonstrating that it does not have to be the worst of times as the UK coalition would have you believe.

The Welsh Government’s commitment to investing in the next generation and supporting people into decent work, despite existing economic constraints and a dramatically diminished budget from the UK government, is an actual alternative to the austerity and cuts agenda of the UK coalition. Going one step beyond, it makes clear the policy options out there for a future UK Labour administration and flies the flag for more positive and active labour market polices

On that note, I’ll leave the final word to the most senior elected Labour politician in the UK and the Welsh First Minister’s take on the UK government’s mis-handing of the fuel non-strike: 

George Galloway wins Bradford West in surprise victory

30 Mar

by Amy Jackson

A constituency that was supposed to be Labour Party safe seat, has awoken this morning to find it has a more unexpected new MP – George Galloway, representing the Respect party. With over a 10,000 majority, Galloway did not win by merely a whisker (irresistible), which is a bad blow for Labour in a week where they should by riding high on a multitude of Coalition blunders.

You can watch George Galloway and his infamous modesty speaking before the result was announced here

What does this mean for Bradford West, Westminster and politics in general? Email us your thoughts to or talk to us on Twitter – @leftoutblog

Women of the left – let’s unite and write!

30 Mar

We all know that the campaign continues to get better and more effective representation of women in public and political life. However, women are half the population and half the workforce in the UK yet we still only make up 22 per cent of the House of Commons and just 15 out of the 55 general secretaries of the trade unions affiliated to the TUC.

But we don’t simply need to campaign and take action to improve women’s political representation. In the drive to make democracy more representative, we also need to get more women politically active online.

Written exclusively by women, LeftOut seeks to re-dress the current gender imbalance in political blogging. A recent Hansard paper, Gender and Digital Politics, examined the online participation of men and women and found that a staggering 80 per cent of political media blogs are by men; 85 per cent of individual blogs in Total Politics Political Blog Awards 2010 were written by men, and only 17 per cent of Labour bloggers are women. Although alarmingly, Labour fairs slightly better than either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats whose women blogger figures stand at a paltry 9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

LeftOut is calling on women of the Left to unite online and write online. The blog aims to be a means to empower, support and encourage the confidence of women who have never considered or felt able to blog before to begin to contribute their thoughts and experiences in an environment in which they feel comfortable. We recognise that you don’t have to be a political or policy expert to have something valuable to say or share.

LeftOut will provide a platform for a wide range of women on the Left to boost their representation in the blogging world, helping to ensure that women are at the heart of politics, not left looking in from the outside.

Hannah Blythyn & Amy Jackson

Editors, LeftOut

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