Image by Natasha Hirst
Many of us, no matter where we sit on the political spectrum, have an ambivalence to taking a punt on the date of the next Westminster election, and indeed despite their chaos the Conservatives appear unlikely to either concede power or have it wrested from them at any time soon. So it might then seem that the political energy that spurred on the membership of Labour and the other political parties during May and June of 2017 is set on simmer, rather than boil, and that we are all mostly hunkered down for the winter.
But the local picture is very different. There has been some intense campaigning in support of the ongoing campaign to Save Bodlondeb Residential Home from closure by Ceredigion Council. Despite a valiant community and cross-party effort, and a still ongoing attempt at a legal resolution in our favour, the battle to prevent Ceredigion Council closing Bodlondeb appears to be lost. It is set to close this coming week, despite an assurance that it would stay open for a further three months – this untruth was one of many utilised by Ceredigion in their dirty war to force the closure through. The campaign to save the home had wholehearted public support and the council were clearly taken aback at the commitment shown by campaigners and the vehemence of the public response. Although we did not win the fight to save the home, I do think that we have reshaped the landscape a little – we have made the council rethink, or at least delay, their intention to rid the county of ‘the burden’ of their duty as a local authority to provide residential care, and Ceredigion’s remaining homes may be safer, for a little longer, than they were before.
That Ceredigion Council’s complacency was shaken by the resilience of the Save Bodlondeb campaigners, and that the political establishment in Ceredigion were genuinely surprised by the increase in the Labour vote on June 8th 2017, suggests that Wales believed itself to be insulated – possibly through a sense of devolutionary virtue – against what was perceived to be the English political zeitgeist of Corbynism. But it is austerity, not geography, that has changed the discourse. And as neo-liberalism is a global economic imperative, so is the breadth of the desire for, and the narrative of, change.
Devolution has delayed the arrival, and is necessarily reshaping the objectives but not the aims of that socialist movement’s emergence here. The existing activist structures of radical West Wales, particularly under the anti-austerity umbrella of the People’s Assemblies, are initiating and supporting single issue campaigning as well as providing support for the newer structures like Momentum, Unite Community, and an emergent Ceredigion tenant’s union. Local campaigning activity is integral to the process of challenging local government as the agent of Tory austerity. If as we hope we are to elect a socialist government in Westminster, or indeed in the Assembly, and if that government is to be in power for long enough for real and lasting change for us all, we must start that reform, here in Ceredigion, at a local government level.
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Categories: History / Hanes