In the full glare of secrecy

Amidst little fanfare and some secrecy, Welsh assembly member John Marek will formally launch a new party in Wrexham on Saturday November 8. Cameron Richards reports

Amidst little fanfare and some secrecy, Welsh assembly member John Marek will formally launch a new party in Wrexham on Saturday November 8. Unlike the palatial surroundings of the Saatchi Gallery, where Michael Howard announced his bid for the Tory leadership last week, the humble basement of Marek’s constituency office has been chosen for the founding conference.

Strange as the choice of venue may seem, the location is no cock-up. On his own private property the ex-Labour AM will seek to ensure that only paid-up members of the John Marek Independence Party (JMIP) will be able to attend. No mention of the conference is to be found on his own website.

It is not hard to unravel the reasons for such secrecy. When Marek first proposed the setting up of a new party earlier this year, his closest political advisers were the left nationalist group, Cymru Goch. In their panic to avoid sections of the ‘Brit left’ attempting to gain entrance to Marek’s meetings, CG members sought to ban other sections of the left in Wales.

Consequently, in August, when Tommy Sheridan spoke on the same platform as Marek in Wrexham, two members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) received emails beforehand stating that their was no room for them in the meeting. Indeed this ban would soon have been extended to members of the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party, had Marek not buckled after loud protests from the CPGB.

Yet it seems that Marek is still prepared to follow the carefully laid plans of his CG backers in seeking to exclude the organised left in Wales from his new formation. This is, even after our exposure of CG’s plans to manipulate him (see Weekly Worker September 11). In his rather less than generous comments about Marek on a left nationalist e-group, one leading CG member complained of Marek’s “crap” speech at the Sheridan meeting. He then claimed CG would wait patiently in the wings until Marek resigned from the Welsh assembly in 2007.

Indeed the Cymru Goch member went on to outline how they would seek to rig the founding conference of the JMIP to ensure that CG was in the ascendant. After all, CG possessed four of the nine members on the steering committee.

Naturally, an indignant Marek, on reading the Weekly Worker, took exception to these remarks and a furious row ensued between Marek and CG members. Nevertheless, a split did not take place, although certain CG members retreated from the scene. Undoubtedly CG was shaping up to act once again as Marek’s doorkeepers on November 8.

Up for discussion at the conference will be adoption of the new party name and constitution and officers will be elected. So far, as is to be expected, only a brief statement of founding principles has been circulated. This document, entitled ‘For a democratic and socialist Wales’, is neither socialist nor particularly democratic in its orientation. In no sense is it a document that seeks to replace capitalism with a new economic and political system. Not surprising really, given Marek’s history as a rightwing Labour MP, a loyal member of both Neil Kinnock’s and John Smith’s front-bench teams.

One major bone of contention that may arise between CG and Marek is over the national question. Marek is not a separatist and has refused to subscribe to CG’s nationalism. Good. Yet the document does not even make the democratic demand for the right of self-determination for Wales, instead merely aspiring to “parity with Scotland” within the existing unionist state, “should any further devolution arrangements be enacted”.

It remains to be seen whether Cymru Goch will be prepared to fight on this issue and seek to insert its call for an independent socialist Wales into the constitution. If the majority of CG is not up for it, then we could see a split in its ranks.

Of interest too will be how both the SWP and the SP relate to the conference. Both have made overtures to Marek. The SWP, through the auspices of the Welsh Socialist Alliance (and the SA in England), sought to persuade Marek to opt for a ‘left bloc’ in next year’s European election. This is still on the agenda, although Marek is a less important player in SWP calculations, now that George Galloway has been kicked out of the Labour Party.

Yet the misleadership of the SWP has meant that the WSA is not an attractive alternative pole of attraction for Marek’s ambitions. Instead he seems set on a rather doomed project of creating a puny ‘left of centre’ formation - an alternative Green Party (apparently, “sustainability is the most fundamental of all principles”), unlikely to be much to the left of Labour, the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru. A right reformist sect is the likely outcome. Unless of course, Cymru Goch gets its way and a left nationalist sect is created.

For our part, CPGB members will seek to both attend and participate in the conference, openly declaring our communist politics. We will seek to put forward a bold alternative statement of principles, embracing openness and intransigence in their rejection of both Labourism and left nationalism.

Cameron Richards

John Marek party - founding principles

  1. All people of Wales, regardless of ethnic origin, creed, gender or sexual orientation, are equal citizens and [party name] will represent all without favour or discrimination and based on these founding principles.
  2. Wales should enjoy parity with Scotland within the current constitutional arrangements in the UK and should enjoy no fewer powers than any other of the UK nations or regions, should any further devolution arrangements be enacted.
  3. The UK is a rich state, but has unacceptable variations in wealth and opportunity between its peoples and regions. We seek to reduce those variations and wish to secure for Wales levels of public spending that accurately reflect the relative levels of economic prosperity and social provision between Wales and other parts of the UK.
  4. We are committed to open and pluralist politics and will cooperate with other political parties in Wales, the UK and Europe where common cause exist.
  5. We will support and take part in international movements designed to secure peace, freedom, international cooperation for sustainable world development and social justice.
  6. Recognising the quality of modern economic and social life depends on public services, we are committed to the maintenance of such services within the public realm.
  7. Understanding that healthy politics requires robust debate, party members shall at all times be respectful, tolerant and considerate to others.
  8. We defend the civil rights of all language communities. Understanding the value, importance, but threatened status, of the Welsh language, we support special measures throughout Wales and especially in vulnerable core areas to nurture the language and build sustainable communities on which it ultimately depends.
  9. As a democratic party we encourage local participation, with the aim of creating self-reliant and sustainable communities equipped to take maximum decisions on their own behalf as the basis for a socialist society.
  10. Sustainability is the most fundamental of all principles. We do not believe anyone has the right to act in a way which diminishes the life chances of future generations and so the long-term consequences shall guide our policies in all that we seek to do.