A Road Map for Labour

In this concise and informative lecture from 2003 Peter Hain made the case that Labour must continue to battle of the legacy of the 1980s and Thatcherism in Wales. He argues in favour of further decentralisation of power with the aim promoting greater equality and an increase in social justice throughout the Celtic Nation.

Changing Wales: Changing Welsh Labour

After eleven years in Government at Westminster and nine years leading administrations in the Welsh Assembly it is vital for Welsh Labour to change trajectory to regain our Party’s wide base of support across Wales: a change which must reflect and respond to the changing face of Wales, its political culture, and the new aspirations of our citizens.

This is all the more necessary in the wake of dire Labour performances in the 2007 Assembly and 2008 council elections. It would be deeply complacent to pass these off as respectively the fault of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments. Or of a familiar mid-term response to longevity in power. Of course these UK reasons for Labour’s dreadful poll ratings were very important factors in Wales on both days. But, on Mayday 2008, devastating losses in Labour heartlands like Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Merthyr compared with much better results in Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend. This demands a Welsh Labour analysis and answer, not just a Westminster one; the fact that the Welsh Tory vote leapt and Labour’s fell again to its lowest level for a century should be a wake up call.

There is also a read across to debate over Labour’s current British-wide predicament. It seems to polarise between ‘New Labour ultras’ and ‘Left Labour traditionalists’, the former stressing winning aspirational ‘Middle Britain’ voters, the latter ‘core’ or ‘traditional’ working class voters. But most of the solutions offer a false choice. There are ‘core’ voters in every constituency in Britain, in smaller or larger numbers according to the size of the Labour deficit or majority. It is not possible to form a Labour government by winning key marginal seats where aspirational voters predominate unless the ‘core’ voters there actually turn out for the Party. The fundamental reason why Labour’s poll ratings have plummeted is that we have lost support in both sectors, and our challenge is to win them both back. The ‘New Labour ultra’ assumption that core voters have nowhere else to go is plain wrong: they are staying at home, or voting for minority parties including, sadly, the BNP. Equally wrong is the assumption of ‘Left Labour traditionalists’ that concerns of ‘aspirational voters’ are secondary.

Rebalancing the Welsh Economy

Over the past eleven years the Welsh economy has been transformed because of the energy, innovation and dynamism of Welsh businesses, the skill and hard work of Welsh men and women, combined with unprecedented annual rises in public investment and economic stability ensured by our Government.

In the 1990s, who would have imagined unemployment being below the UK average as it is today? Or Welsh export growth outstripping the UK average? Or that – on the back of eleven years of sustained growth, low inflation, low interest rates and low unemployment – Welsh prosperity would have spread wider and deeper than ever before.

Economically and culturally Wales has enjoyed a renaissance from the grim decades of mass unemployment and business failure. We should all celebrate that, because, together – government, business and all Welsh employees – we have made it possible for Wales to walk tall with a spring in our step.

Wales United: Partnership for Progress

Ten years on since the referendum Peter and First Minister Rhodri Morgan look at the successes of devolution and the economic, social, cultural and political ties that bind the countries of the UK.

Outlining their vision for the future of devolution they offer a path which builds on the early success of devolution and aims to go on creating a new Welsh self-confidence and modern identity by deepening the devolution settlements.

Underlining their vision is respect for the different nations and identities within the United Kingdom while preserving the advantages enjoyed from being united. Wales United looks at the success of devolution and the relationship between Cardiff Bay and Westminster.

Rebuilding the Progressive Coalition

Peter  outlines how the Labour Party should renew its agenda to cement its position as the party of choice. He calls for a renewal which offers a radical and progressive agenda for the future: building on the achievements of the past decade but recognising the challenges of the next decade will be very different from those faced in the last 10 years.

Those challenges are already clear: forging a radical red-green agenda which recognises the absolutely critical threat which climate change poses to both the environment and social justice ambitions at home and abroad; narrowing the inequality gap; a much greater push to devolve power out of Whitehall to local communities and individuals; and promoting a new progressive internationalism to reflect the increasingly interdependent world in which we live.

Peacemaking in Northern Ireland: A model for conflict resolution

For more than three decades Northern Ireland endured one of the most violent and intractable conflicts to threaten a democratic state in any part of the world.

In his speech the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the Rt. Hon. Peter Hain explores the main causes of the conflict in Northern Ireland and explains the key factors that have underpinned the peace process in the past two decades.

When he left Northern Ireland the IRA’s war was at an end and devolved government restored from 8 May through an historic agreement between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein to share the reins of power.

In his speech Peter Hain draws on his own experiences of Apartheid and looks at the progress made in Northern Ireland in the broader context of other conflicts around the world.

A Welsh Third Way?

A new democracy is being born in Wales. But the new National Assembly is not only giving the people of Wales self-government over significant policies which affect our everyday lives, including education, health, jobs, housing, the environment, transport and agriculture. It also heralds the opportunity for a new politics, entirely different from the stereotyped Westminster or town hall models, and offering the potential for a new common citizenship. The impact could be far-reaching, stretching right across Britain.

A Stakeholder Party

Peter and Derek Fatchett have produced a short but very important pamphlet on the future of the Labour Party. Since the election of Neil Kinnock as party leader in 1983 the ‘modernisation’ of the Labour Party has been a key theme of British politics. Derek and Peter argue that the modernises project as characterised by the Labour Co-ordinating Committee now threatens to take the Party on a different and dangerous route. They put forward an alternative strategy from the left which is not based on defending the status quo.

A History of the Labour Movement in Neath

As a newcomer in 1990 with an interest in the history of socialism Peter became increasingly intrigued at the connections between Neath’s past and present labour movement. There did not seem any obvious link except a pride in the tradition of mining and radicalism which all South Wales valley communities feel. Yet we cannot assess where we are unless we understand where we have come from.

Apart from the odd conversation with an old trade union warrior – and passing references to the Dulais Valley or Neath in that invaluable book, The Fed by Hywel Francis and Dai Smith – nothing appears to have been published which allows an accessible introduction to the history of the local labour movement.

What’s Left? The Future of Labour

What’s Left does not claim to be a comprehensive discussion of socialist policies. For example it hardly considers social or international policy. It is a contribution to debate, focusing upon democratic and economic reform, and Europe.

Labour and the Economy

Recent indications that output in the UK economy might finally have ceased to fall cannot obscure the truly appalling economic record of the Tories since 1979: mass unemployment on the scale of the 1930s, the worst growth rate of any post-war government and a record trade deficit in the midst of a long and deep recession.

Why is it then that there still seems to be inadequate positive support for Labour’s economic policies? How can Labour bridge the credibility gap? More importantly, what policies should labour now be advocating in response to Britain’s economic crisis?

Reviving The Labour Party

The 1979 general election may have signalled the start of an onslaught against working class people, but it has at least encouraged Labour Party members to begin to come clean with ourselves. There is now a growing acceptance that things cannot go on as before. All the main warning signs are on: a long term decline in Party membership; subsiding voter commitment; and, above all, the erosion of the Party’s base in the working class both politically and culturally.

Radicals and Socialism

Socialism in Britain is under siege. Many battles which seemed to have been won, now have to be re-fought: witness the attacks on the welfare state and civil liberties, and current celebration of the mythology of free enterprise. Within the media there has been an orchestrated smearing of the socialist creed, going well beyond a traditional anti-Labour bias, as commentators and intellectuals have defected to the Tories. It is now almost impossible to get a fair hearing for socialism, with political debate degenerating into a series of strident clichés directed at trade unionists and the left.

Wales United: Partnership for Progress

with Rhodri Morgan 

“Ten years on since the referendum in Wales, we can rightly celebrate both the successes of devolution and the economic, social, cultural and political ties that bind together the countries of the UK – which are stronger than ever before. But we also need to champion, defend and reassert the principle on which our devolution rests: that, while respecting the different nations and identities within the United Kingdom, we must preserve the advantages enjoyed from being united. We support devolution within the Union, cherishing and strengthening both the diversity found within the nations and regions of the UK, our shared values and our interests.