End for People’s Voice?

South Wales Argus: INDEPENDENT: Peter Law's defection from Labour saw the birth of People's Voice INDEPENDENT: Peter Law's defection from Labour saw the birth of People's Voice

IT was hailed as the phoenix from the ashes following a saga that rocked Valleys politics, but today People's Voice is expected to announce it is disbanding.

The party that modelled itself on "politics of need not politics of greed" was formed when the Labour group in Blaenau Gwent decided to put forward an all-women shortlist for the 2005 General Election instead of backing party stalwart Peter Law.

Defiant Mr Law stood as an independent candidate and took the Labour stronghold seat in one of the most bitterly fought election campaigns in Wales' political history.

When Peter Law died in 2006 from a brain tumour, his wife Trish Law won his assembly seat, with his election agent Dai Davies clinching the parliamentary title, in what was another milestone victory for People's Voice.

Its success continued in the 2008 council elections when Don Wilcox, John Rogers, Peter Abbott, Godfrey Thomas and Delwyn Davies were all elected under the party's banner and joined forces with the independents to form a leading coalition party and overthrow the Labour administration.

Loyal Peter Law supporters Don Wilcox and John Rogers left the Labour party amid the infighting the followed the shortlist debacle and helped form the People's Voice party.

But now it seems Dai Davies' defeat in May to Labour candidate Nick Smith has burst the People's Voice bubble and the party that vowed to make Labour pay for the way they tried to steamroller a female candidate into Blaenau Gwent is throwing in the towel.

People's Voice leader Don Wilcox was unavailable for comment yesterday, as was the other four party councillors, but Argus sources revealed the party met last night to officially disband and are due to release a statement this morning.

Blaenau Gwent council's coalition leader Des Hillman refused to comment until he had received official conformation, but Labour group leader Hedley McCarthy said the news comes as no surprise.

"These single issue groups always have a limited shelf life. Politics has been realigned by the general election and Labour is the only opposition to the Tory/Lib Dem government. "People's Voice were never a left wing party but were founded by personality rather than policy and it became a vehicle for opportunism."

Cllr McCarthy is now calling for its party's councillors to resign and test public opinion in five by-elections.

"As that is probably just wishful thinking on my part, I now hope they will now show some socialist conviction by voting with the Labour group in future but with no strings attached," he added.


EDITORIAL COMMENT: The end of a political era?

THE expected demise of the People’s Voice party brings to an end a remarkable five years in South Wales politics.

It started as a protest and became the party of choice for many in a heartland steeped in Labour history.

The reason it began was in revolt at an all-woman Labour shortlist imposed on Blaenau Gwent.

Out of this revolt we saw the creation of an independent AM in the shape of Peter Law.

Mr Law delivered Labour a huge blow by winning a seat in a constituency associated with the political heavyweights like Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot.

After his death, Mr Law’s wife Trish and his agent, Dai Davies, took his seats in Cardiff and Westminster.

People’s Voice was a true threat to Labour, not only in Blaenau Gwent but also Torfaen and Caerphilly where it also looked for likely for a while to become an alternative to Labour.

This was a clear case of voters delivering the government of the day a bloody nose because it found what it was doing unpalatable.

While this paper remains politically independent, it has been fascinating to witness this social and political phenomenon on our doorstep.

If, as we are led to believe, the party will come to an end today, then it marks a significant milestone in the history of politics not only in South Wales, but the country.

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