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Wales: A tale of two conferences
There were two Welsh conferences in Cardiff last weekend. On one side of town in Sophia Gardens Labour Party Wales met in a posh conference centre at the cricket ground.
A group of over 30 construction electricians in the Unite trade union, supported by Socialist Party members, lobbied the conference to highlight the attempt of the 'Big 7' construction companies to cut wages by 35% (see page 4).
About a mile away in Riverside over 60 Socialist Party members met to discuss the socialist alternative to the cuts that Welsh Labour is, in part, implementing.
At the Labour conference a spark was refused entry when he asked if he could use the toilet, even though his union, Unite, is bankrolling the Labour Party and was paying for the conference!
At the Socialist Party conference one of the Unite sparks, Andrew Wilkes, who has played a leading role in the dispute, thanked Socialist Party members who had supported their protests when he spoke alongside Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary.
Peter explained the fundamental crisis facing capitalism in Europe, which is the epicentre of a global crisis. In Britain, people face more than a decade of economic decline. He described the "cold cruelty" of the British ruling class that attempts to place the blame for the crisis on groups like the disabled which has resulted in disabled people being attacked in the street as "scroungers".
Les Woodward, Remploy GMB national convenor, confirmed this analysis when he explained that a Remploy colleague (who is obviously working) was knocked out of his wheelchair in such an attack.
He thought that far from expecting his grandkids to have a better life than him the prospect is that they will be thrown back to the same standard of living as his grandparents.
A social worker in the Rhondda valley described how colleagues working in the Rhondda Food Bank cannot keep up with the demand for food as people on benefits don't have enough to eat.
She explained how, like most people, they have modest aspirations... a job, a decent house etc. But "they have as much chance of achieving these as going to the moon" under this system!
This was Socialist Party Wales's biggest ever conference with delegates and visitors contributing £700 in the fighting fund collection.
The conference was, unfortunately, too short to discuss all the issues affecting the working class and the Socialist Party in Wales. Next year - a two-day conference!