Joe Solo

Essential Viewing: Wales Live

PLEASE WATCH THIS. APOLOGIES FOR THE LENGTH OF TEXT, BUT PLEASE READ & SHARE THIS (via copying and pasting or going to Clwyd South Labour Party Facebook page if you can’t share from here. Thank you).

Video is from approx 8mins 35 secs in.

Another superb report about the Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG campaign by the BBC’s Paul Martin, who again puts his UK-level colleagues to shame by showing how journalism should be done.

With Plaid securing a debate on WILG on Wednesday in the Assembly, we at Clwyd South Labour Party & Labour for Wrexham join our MPs Susan Elan Jones MP & Ian Lucas in calling on the Welsh government, OUR party, to finally make the change that absolutely NOBODY (apart from seemingly some Cabinet Ministers), ANYWHERE-inside or outside Labour-is against!

Both Mark Drakeford AM & Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North are good people, who we campaigned, phonebanked, door-knocked & supported passionately during their respective campaigns; both have been openly supportive of what we are trying to do.

So, if anyone is in doubt as to how important this is, or why it is ESSENTIAL that the Welsh Independent Living Grant with a confirmed TRIPARTITE (recipient, Local Authority, WAG-with WAG controlling admin & money) system is saved, then let us present evidence in addition to expert opinion:

-via FOI, VERY clearly, without a shred of doubt, the evidence in black & white shows that the current system implemented last year is failing lots of people. Demonstrably so. We have pages and pages of evidence and reports that prove that, putting all emotional pleas to one side, NOT keeping WILG with Tripartite is demonstrably worsening the lives of many, while as Dame Tani Grey-Thompson says, the inevitability of it costing MORE by NOT doing this!

Add to this we have plenty of evidence of what happens when the WILG equivalent is kept as in Scotland & Northern Ireland (very successful) V when it is scrapped, hence WILG to begin with, in England-i.e. Terrible results for the most vulnerable. Not surprising given this is, no matter how it is dressed up & accepting it was not the original intention, very clearly a Neo Liberal policy-the antithesis of what we stand for in Labour.

-NONE of the recipients are creating a two-tier system. WAG is. Both at the initial stage-their choice, but also now with the wildly differing results from Local Authorities. THAT is a two-tier system! Also, the number of recipients is only going DOWN, so if WAG do not think it is obvious that THE most vulnerable people in Wales deserve their direct protection (Tripartite), then we would love to know why.

-Democracy: We are very pleased to see Mark Drakeford re-emphasizing how we are a democratic, member-led party in Wales. Therefore, we expect, obviously, that the vote at Welsh Labour conference 2018 is upheld and that we keep WILG with a Tripartite system. Otherwise, as one of the first acts of the new administration, it’s not exactly a good look if the largest ever defeat for WL is ignored given the committed stance on democracy!!! Many would question what the point of conference motions are if this is ignored.

-Total unanimous support to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant – WILG from the following:

The Labour Party membership inside & outside Wales

Labour MPs inside & outside Wales and AMs, Councillors etc in Wales

The Leader of the Labour Party at UK level Jeremy Corbyn

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Welsh Labour Grassroots- The Home for Momentum in Wales

Unite the union

Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson

The UN

The Official UK-wide Disability Group for Labour who also passed our motion

ALL other political parties in Wales. ALL!

Every single Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Wales that we have had direct contact with, and many we haven’t

Wrexham FC, Ken Loach, Mark Thomas, Atilla The Stockbroker, Joe Solo & MANY other cultural icons

Do we need to go on? We repeat, we have faith in both Mark Drakeford & Julie Morgan to do the right thing as they are good Socialist people. IF, and we say IF, this is a failure of consensus politics, then annoy those objecting in your cabinet. Not the most vulnerable people in Wales. IF this is being stopped by the egos of others, because OBVIOUSLY it is not based in evidence, is it?!, then I am afraid WE, because WE are Labour, MUST stand up to anyone wishing to block what is an ABSOLUTE NO-BRAINER!!!

To be clear-our campaign will only heap praise on Mark Drakeford, Julie Morgan & Welsh Labour if they secure what is ethically, economically, politically & procedurally the right thing to do. We will praise them for listening and PROVING this new administration is a listening one, that it is very much a Socialist one, and very much an administration that respects democracy. It will be a statement of intent. It will, to quote Rhodri Morgan, show “Clear red water” between the Tories in Westminster & Labour in Wales. Nathan & the campaign has done everything by the book, jumping EVERY admin/democratic hurdle.

Now with this democracy-centred, inclusive, Socialist administration in addition to all the glaring, factual evidence, NO OPPOSITION either internally or externally, the UK Leader & Shadow Chancellor, the UN, Welsh MPs & AMs, THE CONFERENCE VOTE etc etc…This really is VERY easy to do from every conceivable angle-morally, politically, economically, PR-wise etc. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

We want to be proud to continue the fight to oppose social injustice. The average life expectancy of someone with lead campaigner Nathan Lee Davies‘s condition, is 35 years old. Tomorrow-Tuesday 12th February 2019-is Nathan’s 42nd birthday. To quote Nathan himself:

“I do not want to be using what precious time I have left fighting against the hierarchy of the party I love and campaign for. But I will if I have to. Please don’t make me.”

On behalf of the campaign, please do not make us have to, either. Do the right thing. You are good, decent people who we are proud to campaign for & defend daily. Yes, no one says your job is easy-far from it. But this decision is. PLEASE, before the party we love gets exposed in the Assembly on Wednesday, PLEASE LISTEN. THANK YOU!

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Mind Games

My mind is cluttered up at the moment as the need to Save WILG increases and my disability continues to progress. Throughout all this I am surrounded by some amazing friends and comrades who really keep me going, yet still I remain intrinsically lonely.

This is not meant to be a self centred, depressing blog. I am just stating my feelings on a sleepy Sunday morning. Hopefully others will be able to relate to my story and it is in this spirit that I am writing.

After enjoying an evening watching the superb Joe Solo at The Sun Inn, Llangollen. This award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer hails from Scarborough. His musical odyssey began in 1987 fronting a bash-em-out band at school, and has seen him play seven countries either as lynchpin of pop-punk upstarts Lithium Joe or hammering out his unique brand of Folk, Punk and Blues in his own right.

He put on a wonderful sincere show that obviously came straight from the heart and he managed to spread his passion for politics throughout the packed pub.  As he was performing I couldn’t help but wish I had remembered to bring a #SaveWILG postcard for him to pose with. I had to compromise and took a photo of Joe and I after the gig so that I could show that he was a supporter of the campaign.

Then I saw the photo…

At the beginning of the evening I chose to wear my new New York City t-shirt in homage to John Lennon. Unfortunately, I do not resemble the former Beatle in any way whatsoever so could only be disappointed with a photograph of a chunky bloke slouching in a wheelchair with a recognisable t-shirt hiding his flab. I was disappointed with the picture. Joe looked great and we captured the busy pub behind us, but the shot was ruined by me. I guess this is what happens when you are a perfectionist trapped in a imperfect body.

john_600x

I think the problem is not that I am especially overweight. I recently got weighed and was pleased to find that I was only 13st. This is about average for someone of my age and height. The main issue that I have is my posture in my wheelchair as due to Friedreichs Ataxia my hips tend to roll forward causing me to slouch down to a uncomfortable position. My spine is of no use at all as I am suffering from Scoliosis which means my spine has a sideways curve.

I guess this is one of the hard things of living with Friedreichs Ataxia – it is constantly changing due to its progressive nature and I am always having to come to terms with accepting changes to my body. At a time when I am fighting the Welsh Government, Wrexham Council and Wrexham AFC this is particularly hard to cope with.

However, I am a fighter and I will continue to fight while trying to learn to ignore media perceptions of what is beautiful and accepting that I should really love myself.

I really should spend longer writing this blog, but I just do not have the time to explore my feelings in a deeper way. Tomorrow afternoon I have a meeting with Wrexham Council that I need to prepare for plus countless emails I need to write without any comfort eating…

The fight continues.

***

After watching Joe Solo, my own creativity was sparked into life again and when I got home I wrote the following Tanka while lying in bed.

Sepia stained youth

 Running free through fields of gold

Stranded in the past

As your whole body erodes

Revealed in digital form