Wales conference – confidence in socialist ideas

Ross Saunders

Around 60 people attended this year’s Socialist Party Wales conference, marking another step forward for our organisation. The turnout exceeded last year’s record-breaking number, and several parts of the country were represented for the first time in many years.

Socialist Students organisers from seven universities and colleges gathered before the Party conference to take part in a very successful discussion and coordinate their efforts to build support for socialism among young people in education.

Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe opened the conference. He spoke about the worldwide revival of struggle – looking at the general strikes in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, and beyond.

He, and the discussion which followed, also pointed to the growing interest in a socialist alternative to blind-alley capitalism with the setting up if the Workers and Socialist Party following the miners’ strike in South Africa and the 29% vote for a Socialist Alternative candidate in Seattle in the US.

However, Peter also warned that, where no decisive lead is given to the working class, the right wing will attempt to take advantage, causing further suffering to workers and youth across the world.

In some parts of the world our sister parties in the CWI, the socialist international to which we’re affiliated, are beginning to play a leading role in workers’ struggles.

And in Wales we are consistent opponents of the cuts and austerity. In Caerphilly, for example, our leadership of a campaign against A&E cuts has convinced activists that the only effective way of fighting for decent local services is to fight for decent local services everywhere – in other words, to oppose all cuts and closures.

Workers’ action

Rapid changes in the workers’ movement could lead to big changes in outlook – even in unexpected quarters. Less than a year ago Socialist Party national committee member Alec Thraves was censured at Wales TUC for daring to accuse Unison’s bureaucracy of not standing up for their members. Now, Unison leaders, under pressure from below, are desperately demanding that the Wales TUC calls an all-Wales demonstration against the cuts.

More workers are moving into action. In Wales they will confront a rubber-spined Welsh Assembly which hides cuts as ‘reorganisations’ in the NHS and in education instead of opposing them. A preview of the attitude workers will take towards these sell-outs was given by the Caerphilly council workers who walked off the job in protest at fat cat pay rises for the chief executive.

Members left the conference convinced of the need to build the Socialist Party to ensure that socialist ideas reach workers in struggle. Proof that we were convinced that our Party needs to be properly financed was evident with the fighting fund appeal raising an excellent £770.