Saturday, 17 March 2007

Reclaiming the legacy of a South Wales MP

In 1893, Keir Hardie entered parliament. He created a scandal when he insisted on wearing working clothes and a cloth cap instead of the regulation frock coat and top hat.

His choice of dress was deliberate. He wanted to send a clear message to the establishment that he was a workers' MP representing working people and their interests unlike the other MPs who represented the powerful and vested interests.

Just as Labour Party activists have broken away from New Labour to join Respect, so people then were breaking away from the Liberal Party to create a party that would represent working people - the majority of society.

In 1900, Keir Hardie was elected in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales on a platform of abolishing the House of Lords, granting votes for women and home rule for Ireland. He was the first Labour MP.

His election address denounced militarism, imperialism and the use of the army against strikers.

Today, Respect not New Labour are the true heirs of these early fighters for working class representation. We will be standing in South Wales as True Labour against New Labour.

The need for a party of the millions not the millionaires is greater than ever.

In 2005, for the first time in 60 years, a party standing to the left of Labour gained a seat in parliament with the election of the first Respect MP.

Get up! Get into it! Get involved!

Join Respect today!


Anonymous said...

A socialist, scottish MP who wins a seat standing in East London?

No, we're not talking about gallant George Galloway, but Keir Hardie!

A good reminder that Keir later came to South Wales.

Anonymous said...

You forget that Keir Hardie was also a committed supporter of Welsh Home Rule - uniting the Red Dragon with the Red Flag.
Where does Respect stand on Welsh independence?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, I will attempt to reply to the question.

Respect believes that Welsh people have the right to decide democratically what constitutional arrangements they want, whether to remain part of the UK or to become a separate country.

But as to our position on Welsh independence, we have no position.

Nationalists and supporters of independence are welcome to join Respect, but it is not something that we, as an organisation, campaign on.

My own personal opinion is that the division between class, between rich and poor is the defining feature of Welsh society & working people in Wales and England have more in common with each other than Welsh working people have with Welsh capitalists and that nationalism is a diversion and barrier to forging unity between working people - but Respect is a broad church and our members have many different opinions on these subjects.

Where we are united is around the need to combat privatisation and the neoliberal agenda, oppose racism against muslims and immigrants and every other form of discrimination, bring an end to Blair and Bush's wars & fight to rebuild the trade union movement.

Interestingly, even the nationalist party in Wales, Plaid, doesn't think that independence is important enough to be the main focus of their election campaign.

Adam J

Anonymous said...

"Nationalists and supporters of independence are welcome to join Respect" but you don't support nationalism or independence, so why would nationalists want to join Respect? Aren't you being a little disingenuous Adam J?

And didn't George Galloway say at a meeting in Cardiff in response to a question from Plaid Cymru AM, Leanne Wood, "If you want to join Respect, leave your nationalism at the door"?

Indeed, I attended another Respect meeting where one of the speakers once again attacked those who fight for Cymru's right of self-determination and support the anti-colonial struggle against the British state saying that "nationalism is about dividing the working class, it offers false solutions to working people". Actually breaking Cymru away from Britain would be a blow against imperialism and as Cymru is more socialist than England would be a progressive step.

We don't need UK nationalist parties like Respect in Cymru