Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Evil is Gas Bills - Protest Increased Bills


Saturday 27 September at 2 pm
British Gas Office
Churchill Way (off Queen Street)
past Capitol arcade

Bring banners, placards, drums . . . people etc.!

*Windfall tax on profits to alieviate burden on poor & fund environmental measures such as house insulation
* Greater regulation and price capping
* Re-nationalisation of the energy companies

This protest is initiated by Cardiff Chartists - Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter & supported by leading city trade unionists, environmentalists, community and social justice campaigners.

The call for a demonstration has also received messages of support, in a personal capacity, from Jill Evans MEP, Leanne Wood AM, Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid), veteran left wing concillor, Ray Davies (Labour), Cllr Ron Davies, former Welsh Secretary, Jill Gough, National Secretary of CND Cymru, Cymdeithas and many others.

For more information or to sign the Charter, email:

Monday, 22 September 2008

Babi was Deported

from No Borders Wales

Just an update to say that after much lobbying, struggle, and effort from Babi and his supporters which continued right up until the last minute, he was removed from the country on a BMI flight out of Heathrow on Saturday.

A friend spoke to him when he phoned from Baku late on Saturday night.

No Borders South Wales would like to thank everyone who helped in the struggle to keep Babi safe in Cardiff, and we promise to keep you updated about his situation and anything we can do to help him now he is back in Azerbaijan. Keep checking the blog for updates.

The next No Borders meeting will be at 7.00pm in Riverside Community Centre, Brunel St, Cardiff on Thursday 25th September.

Last Orders at the Local?

Another day, and another pub faces closure. According to CAMRA, 'four pubs are closing every day in Britain. This national crisis has left communities pub-less, with over half of British villages being without a local for the first time since 1066' and the situation is not much better in the cities & under the current administration in Cardiff we might be left with trendy bars for people to consume as much alcohol in as short a space of time as possible, but no places to talk, meet, listen to music and feel a sense of real community.

As the Rough Pub Guide laments:

“Life was once simple: you could choose either the public bar, stand around with a pint, play darts and enjoy a platter of roast potatoes . . . or you could retire to the lounge, where, in amongst the flock wallpaper and red velvet bench seats, an old bloke would invariably run through his repertoire on an organ."

Of course, Pubs had to change and develop, but unfortunately as is so often the case, profit seems to be placed before people.

The good news is that the historic Pantmawr Inn in North Cardiff has a reprieve with a Welsh Assembly inquiry.

The bad news is that it may be last orders at the Lansdowne Hotel in Canton as another one of our communities is gutted of a local social centre due to the shortsightedness of the Council. The news is especially poignant as the pub, perhaps once more known as a favourite of City fans, has recently hosted a series of imaginative events aimed at the wider community and families. For example, a recent 3 day indoor festival raised hundreds of pounds for War on Want and saw over 30 bands play, buskers, jugglers, snail racing, face painting, fair trade stalls, a skittles tournament and an exhibition of art by city-based artists. As well as a shabby caravan where diners could indulge in a sit-down, candlelit meal with waitress service!

The current Council administration has been incredibly obstructive to building a grassroots local arts and music scene, as witnessed in the trouble the late Toucan Club had getting a license, and the petty threats to close down the Point. Let's all unite to save our communities from the Council's vision of Cardiff PLC!

Friday, 19 September 2008


This an urgent appeal: A treasured member of our community, internationally renowned artist and poet, Babi Badalov is due to be deported on Saturday at 8 am. He is currently imprisoned in Campsfield Detention Camp. To find out how you can help Babi, see here:


Thursday, 18 September 2008

Protest against Proposed Motorway through the Gwent Levels

Protest against the proposed motorway through the Gwent levels.
No New M4! - The Big CALM Protest
Tuesday 23rd September at 12 Noon
Steps of the Senedd, Cardiff Bay

The day after the Assembly re-opens after the summer break; CALM will be holding a protest on the steps of the Senedd.

This is our chance to tell the government that enough is enough, and that these damaging plans need to be axed, now.

This is your chance to tell your elected representatives that you don't want your money spent on destroying our natural heritage and the atmosphere. Join us in opposing this environmentally devastating scheme! Please pledge to attend our protest event.

For those who do not know about CALM, it stands for Campaign Against the Levels Motorway which will cut through 5 miles of the Gwent Levels SSSI, in reens, destroying grazing marsh, affecting the habitat of species like otter, water vole and barn owl (and being certain to cause road deaths of far too many otters and barn owls too), turning three chunks of the Gwent Levels into pathetic isolated 'islands' cut-off from the remainder of the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels, with pollution from the scheme set to spread through the reen system to damage the freshwater life of the whole wetland system.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Urgent - Take Action to Keep Babi Safe in Cardiff

Babakhan Badalov, (Babi) the openly gay, internationally renowned radical artist and poet from Azerbaijan was arrested yesterday morning while signing on at the UK Border Agency Offices in Cardiff and is due to be deported on Saturday.

'Babi went for his weekly sign-in with friends from the Keep Babi Safe in Cardiff Campaign.

When he did not come back out of the building campaigners became concerned and enquired after his well-being only to be told he had been detained and would be removed from the country as soon as possible.'

There is an emergency protest today at noon at the Borders Agency on Newport Road.

Please, please bombard the Home Office with letters, emails, phonecalls and faxes in support of Babi. Also contact any media, political and arts organisations that may be able to help publicise the Keep Babi Safe in Cardiff Campaign.

Information on how to help can be found here

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Evil is Gas Bills - Cardiff Fuel Poverty Protest

Assemble 2 pm, Saturday 27th September, British Gas Offices, Churchill Way (off Queen Street) Cardiff. Near the Capitol Arcade

Worried about how you will afford your gas bill in the coming winter? Then join the protest:


Protest to demand -

* AN EMERGENCY WINDFALL TAX on profits of gas companies to fund measures to alieviate the burden working people & fund environmental measures such as house insulation to lower household fuel bills

* GREATER REGULATION OF CORPORATE POWER - government enforced price-capping

* RE-NATIONALISATION OF THE GAS & ELECTRICITY companies and run them to meet the needs of the many instead of the profits of the few!

Stop the Great Gas Rip-Off! The Evil is Gas Bills . . .

British Gas hiked prices to increase profits by 500% last year, now they and the other gas companies have increased bills again. We see no reason why quarter of the population should be plunged into fuel poverty so that Jake Ulrich, boss of Centrica can 'earn' a million a year. The government spent billions to re-nationalise Nothern Rock to bail out some bankers, how about re-nationalisting the gas companies to bail out ordinary people at the mercies of cowboys like British Gas, EDF, Centrica et al? Enough is Enough. The gas companies are not making a living - they're making a killing - literally! - according to Help the Aged, 25,000 pensioners could die this winter because they have to choose between spending money on food or heating their homes.Join the protest on Saturday 27 September!

This protest is initiated by Cardiff supporters of the People Before Profit Charter but anybody is welcome to support. Already the protest has been endorsed support from left wing councillors, socialists, trade unionists, environmentalists, church poverty groups, social justice campaigners & concerned citizens. A full list of sponsors of the protest will be publicised shortly.

If you wish to support the protest or more information about the charter, email:

Monday, 8 September 2008

Save the Vulcan!

Our traditional working class social centres (ie Pubs) are under threat across Britain. The latest to face the axe is Adamsdown's own gem, The Vulcan. Situated on Adams Street, it will be replaced with 3,000-space car park for the new shopping centre, St Davids Centre 2, and we're hopping mad about it!

Cardiff Council seems determined to rip the heart out of our city, whether it is auctioning off our cultural treasures or covering the city with a clone-town style city centre. They are the people who understand the cost/price of everything and the value of nothing.

Voted Pub of the Year in 1997, the Vulcan is a historic drinking den that was built in 1853. For over 155 years it has been the local landmark, a north star for weary proletarians.
Not only is The Vulcan is one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff, it is the oldest to have kept its original name - a slice of history, something that connects us with our past. Its name, a reference to the 'God of Fire', was given by the Ironworks in Balls Road when it was built.

For those who have never tasted a pint of real beer at the Vulcan, it has been decribed thus: "a real old fashioned pub. Literally a spit and sawdust pub, with many original features, such as a a large ships wheel, and is often photographed. It stands forlorn amongst modern buildings just before the bridge that marks the end of Adamsdown and the start of the town centre. A perpertual entry in the Camra pub guide. A real step back in time."

The historic Pantmawr Inn in North Cardiff is also facing closure due to greedy developers.

We need a campaign now to save the Vulcan and concerned citizens can rest assured that this will be top of the agenda at the next meeting of Adamsdown Left Alternative along with rocketing gas prices.

For anyone who stands between a free born briton and his or her drink is either a fanatic or a fool.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Welsh History Day School - A Report

A report of the recent day school on Robert Owen & The Co-operative Movement, hosted by the Welsh People's History Society, Llafur by Anna Guevara from the LEFT Alternative.

With an early autumn monsoon and swathes of South Wales flooded, we were fearful that the day school on "Robert Owen and the Co-operative Movement", might be rained off, especially with the venue – Pontypridd Museum – being perilously close to a river . . .

Fortunately, the event went ahead as planned, and around 40 people’s remembrancers crammed into a basement hall to hear a series of papers and presentations on 150 years of the co-operative movement in Wales from the Chartists to Tower Colliery. The day school was opened with two enjoyable and stimulating papers by Bryan Davies of Pontypridd Museum, and Llafur stalwart, Alun Burge, both demolishing the generally held belief that the first co-operative in Wales was at Cwmbach – We were to learn that morning, that the Cwmbach co-op was neither the first, nor the second, third, fourth or fifth co-operative in Wales. We discovered that neither were the Rochdale Pioneers the first co-operative in Britain. Instead we heard a fascinating story of how working class rebels linked with the Chartist movement launched the first co-ops because town-shopkeepers were hostile to their politics. This forgotten history of Chartist Co-operatives was one that Llafur promised to do more future research on.

The story of the first co-operative in Wales at Pontypridd is to be found in the pages of the Northern Star, the radical newspaper that played the role of organiser in the Chartist movement. We heard of a co-operative that could not get groceries from local wholesalers who refused to sell to the radicals, and enquired for information on wholesalers further afield. The co-operative was also subject to attempts at sabotage from the local tradespeople and town councillors. The Chartists linked with the co-op met in a local beer-house, ostensibly for Welsh lessons, but the police expected more subversive purposes – though historical information is scarce due to the insurgents taking the traditional collective oath of secrecy.

What was especially inspiring was how these early co-operatives were closely interlinked with the beginnings of militant trade unionism and political agitation, and essentially formed self-help organisations set up by the most politically conscious workers at the time. Historians argue that the Pontypridd co-op failed because it went bankrupt through extending too much credit to striking train workers at Brown-Lennox, a similar story was told about the Cwmbach co-op, that it went out of business through overfunding the 1921 miners lockout, indeed, the co-op effectively funded the lockout.

A key figure in the Pontypridd Co-op was a radical Doctor and Chartist leader named William Price, A whole book could be written about Price (and probably has!), an early pioneer of cremation who played a role in laying the ground for the final legalisation of the practice in 1902, he was also a druid and an advocate of free love.

Dr Price can also be seen as a father of socialised medicine: Elected doctor by striking workers who paid weekly contributions in return for free health care, he caustically commented that people paid for doctors when they were sick, but that people should only pay for doctors when they had been cured, and when they were sick the doctors should pay the patients!

An interesting angle was opened up, when we heard about the influence of Iolo Morganwg, stonemason and inventor of the modern bards, on Price and Welsh chartists. It was argued that Morganwg bequeathed Welsh radicals the equivalent of the English concept of “the Norman Yoke” (read Christopher Hill for background on this idea). The Welsh couldn’t look back to a golden age before the Norman conquest of justice because they had never been conquered by the Normans!

Iolo, “The bard of liberty”, invented a fiction of a radical and democratic druidic past long before the Roman invasion of Britain, a distant Welsh or British utopia, presided over by Druids who were lawgivers and moral teachers, a fiction was promoted that in the Middle Ages, Welsh Kings were appointed and removed by popular assembly. William Price believed that this utopian past could fire people's imaginations to create a radical present.

We heard anecdotes that Iolo's Triads of the Social State had even influenced Karl Marx, and it was argued that Iolo had shaped many false ideas that people had of medieval Welsh history, speakers argued that people had read the Laws of Hywel Dda through the prism of Iolo’s preface that gave them a democratic and egalitarian twist that wasn’t really there: For example a group of 19th century squatters invoked in their defence the laws of Hywel Dda, but it was claimed that they had inherited a false and romantic idea of the laws.

This inspired much controversy with the floor, especially when the speaker raised the issue of Welsh suffragettes claiming inspiration from Celtic women who supposedly enjoyed equality as an example of how a completely romanticised view of the laws had developed. Some argued that Hywel Dda’s laws were progressive particularly in regards to divorce and defended them as an egalitarian system of law.

Other presentations were concerned with Robert Owen, needs no introduction from us, except to say that the verdict is still open on whether he was a utopian socialist or an enlightened capitalist. Certainly he was a pioneer of adult education and nursery education, and defender of childrens rights, and pioneered reforms such as sick pay, but my own gut feeling is that he belongs to the prehistory of the working class movement.

The conference ended with a discussion of the relevance of co-operative movement today. A paper promoting co-operative schools stimulated discussion, while one speaker from the floor bitterly commented that some co-ops treated their workers just as shoddily as capitalist firms. Others saw the co-operative as offering a model for self-help and decentralised alternative to top-down socialism. While a few implied that Owenites were middle class do-gooders and paternalistic. Another debate hinged on ‘nationalisation’ and the nature of public ownership. People argued that their needed to be some grassroots form of public ownership based on democratic and community control, leading to a general debate on what socialism should be in Century 21.

Llafur is to be commended on organising an enjoyable and educational conference. The next event will be a day school History of Welsh Sport at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff on the 1st November. The event is free. Contact Siân Williams to book your place. Another day school on gender and sport will take place in Cardiff in November.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Message to Cllr Rodney Berman & Co. - "Hands Off Our Books!"


Following our correspondent's story yesterday highlighting the LibDem/Plaid Coalition nefarious plan to auction of our city's cultural treasures to the highest bidder on the sly, we have been bombarded with emails from concerned citizens. We will post up contact details for the Cardiff Heritage Friends campaign shortly.

Now bombard local politicians with letters demanding that our cultural heritage be saved. The more letters, emails, etc, that can be sent to the Council's Executive (and to your local ward councillors and your Assembly Member and MP), the better. One thing to request specifically is that the matter be put on the agenda of the next Council Executive meeting. Also the more letters to the press and postings on websites, the better!

The email address for Cllr Nigel Howells, the Executive Member for Sport , Leisure and Culture (and therefore the councillor responsible for libraries) is

The report recommending the sale of the collections is published on the Council’s website. The report is entitled - we kid you not - ‘Disposal of Surplus [sic] Library Stock’. Cardiff Council have made Farenheit 451 a reality!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Cardiff Council to Flog off our Cultural Treasures & Books to Highest Bidder!

"A lot of people are aghast about this. For Cardiff, having these books is the difference between Cardiff being a local and Welsh interest library to being a library in the international league. In the past the council has not invested in these books and did not include them on the electronic catalogue, which means that the majority of people did not know they were there."

Dr Wyn James, Secretary of Cardiff Welsh Bibliographical Society, speaking to the BBC

One occasionally suspects that certain senior Council leaders have never read a book, this certainly might explain the wanton barbarism of the mafia who run the Council putting up our cultural treasures up for auction. This act of cultural vandalism from the LibDem/Plaid Coalition marks a new low point and a step back for the city.

Books that may be flogged off include Tyndale's Bible, one of the oldest English translations of the Bible, published in the 16th Century when translating the Bible into the common tongue was a deeply suversive and political act, risking death; Second edition Shakespeare's; Key English and European texts from the Protestant reformation; And a substantial and significant collection of political tracts from the English Civil War, an epoch of democratic struggle and revolution that our politicians may wish to forget, when the people deposed an autocratic and out of touch leader.

While certain books will be saved - including the 13th Century Llyfr Aneirin (The Book of Aneirin), the manuscript collection (including the Captain Scott manuscripts and Bute papers)., and early printed Welsh books and bibles, including a Bishop Morgan bible - Already over 100 books have been sent to the auctioneer with little evidence of public consultation, and talk of up to 18,000 antique books - many dating as far back to the 15th Century - to be flogged to the highest bidder.

Indeed, according to Peter Keelan, Head of special collections and archives at Cardiff University Library, the first batch of books date back to the 1500s and are probably the most valuable of the books being sold.

He identifies the key importance of this collection:

"There is nothing else here in Wales as the library in Aberystwyth concentrates more on Welsh texts. Students would have to go to London for their research. If these books disappear from Cardiff, research will grind to a halt."

Cardiff University has expressed an interest in taking custody the books to so that people from all over Cardiff could see them, and they would be available for scholars and research, but how could a university library match the sums that the Council will get from the auctioneers?

A new campaigning group, Cardiff Heritage Friends, has been launched as a coalition of local residents, historians, other academics, solicitors, and librarians, that is calling for the council to stop the sale "of some of Wales' greatest treasures".

This marks an escalation of the local council's attacks on public libraries and our cultural heritage. The council claims that it will use the sale from its cultural vandalism to fund public libraries, but should culture be funded by attacking culture?

When Cardiff Central Library was moved to its temporary home in a glorified shed, Council Leader, Rodney Berman made much spin of Cardiff soon having a 'state-of-the-art Library' but beneath the blather lies the reality that the new Central Library will contain much fewer books than the previous incarnation - what is this but a cut? Indeed, before the Library moved to its temporary home, hundreds of important books, many of them out-of-print and unavailable from bookshops were similarly sold off.

"Where there is no vision - the people perish". The Leaders of the Council have made it clear that they are not men and women of culture: The disgraceful threats to close one of Wales' finest music venues, the Point, the demise of the Coal Exchange, the hassle around the Toucan show this, the attempts to build a road through Bute Park. Or rather they have their own culture based around money and profit, expressed in Rodney Berman fighting hard to bring a Super-Casino to Cardiff, the St Davids Centre 2, and one of Wales' poorest areas - Loudon Square - being in an area that has had billions poured into 'regeneration' and surrounded by new luxury flats.

We hope to articulate an alternative vision of our city, and struggle to make Cardiff a city of culture and a city of the people.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


The LEFT Alternative has just received this tip off from a very concerned citizen (see below), a response from Cardiff Councillor Nigel Howells whose brief is Sports, Leisure & Culture to these concerns can be found in the comments section to this article.

"Cardiff Council has brought back plans to put a new access bridge into Bute Park and a ROAD through the park - this is immediately opposite the end of Corbett Road (ie off North Road and opposite Optometry).

In fact these are plans that will change the face of the park as we know it - the bridge is to be 9 metres wide! - this is to let 2 articulated lorries pass each other - a new, very wide road then drops over the feeder canal and down into the park near the nursery.

Many trees will be removed - amazingly a large number have already been removed without any planning permission approved - you can see the gash in the tree line. The plans have to be abandoned before the election but they are BACK with them again!"

Sign the petition here

Our correspondent asks:

"Have you seen the destruction, on the pretence of taking down a diseased tree! I hope you are appalled. Are the Council officers covering up this unlawful action BEFORE planning permission?"

Bute Park's designer and planer, Andrew Pettigrew, was one of the most important park designers of the second half of the nineteenth century, andthe open, flowing informal design allowed a smooth transition from a private pleasure ground to a public park. Much of the Victorian planting, particularly of ornamental trees, survives but are the trees safe in Cardiff Councils hands?




Development Control, Strategic Planning & Environment, Room 127 City Hall, Cardiff, CF10 3ND
Application No. 07/02649/
CDate: 29/08/2008

Please ask for: Richard Cole
Telephone: (029) 2087 1668
Fax (029) 2087 1826

History Day School - Robert Owen and the Co-operative Movement in Wales

George Orwell once said “those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past control the future.” Knowing our own history is very important for the working class movement.

Llafur (Welsh People's History Society) is organising a day school to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of Robert Owen of Newtown, the ‘father of the Co-operative Movement’.

The day school will start at 11am on Saturday 6 September, and will be held in Pontypridd Museum. Speakers include Brian Davies, Alun Burge, Roger Davies, Mervyn Wilson, and Chris Williams.

The event is free. Please contact Siân Williams
to book your place.
Some LEFT Alternative supporters hope to attend. Report to follow - watch this space!