Welsh Assembly elections: A working class voice to say ‘save our steel!’

The Welsh Assembly Senedd building, photo by nfophotography (Creative Commons)

The Welsh Assembly Senedd building, photo by nfophotography (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s (TUSC) challenge in the Welsh Assembly elections on 5 May has centred on the campaign to save Welsh steel. Standing in the three south Wales lists out of the five regional lists, TUSC has campaigned for the immediate nationalisation of the industry, which is supported by a large majority.

The Port Talbot steel plant is located at the very centre of the South Wales West regional seat. Tata’s announcement that it will sell off its UK operations raised the prospect of losing 4,500 direct jobs at Port Talbot and around another 15,000 jobs that rely on the steelworks.

TUSC is demanding that if the UK government refuses to step in and nationalise then the Welsh government should use its borrowing powers to do the same.

Our campaigns have concentrated on being out on the streets and putting our case in hustings. Overwhelmingly working people support our campaign. Understandably some people want to support Corbyn’s changes in the Labour Party but, as we explain, Corbyn’s Labour is not on offer in these elections. For First Minister Carwyn Jones’s Welsh Labour it is business as usual – which means more cuts.

The TUSC launch in nearby Swansea saw a dozen or more supporters take over the main shopping centre with a lively ‘TUSC Team’ engaging with the passing public on issues such as council cuts, zero-hour contracts, £10 an hour minimum wage, as well as the nationalisation of steel.

Even with Ukip and the Greens also campaigning in the city centre our ‘TUSC Team’ totally took over the pedestrianised area both politically – by leafleting and petitioning – and physically, with twice as many members participating as our competitors!

Despite the expected minimal media coverage, the TUSC banner and supporters have managed to be photographed in the local press on the steel protests in Port Talbot and on council cuts protests in Swansea.


Our lead candidate is Owen Herbert, branch secretary of the Swansea RMT transport workers union. All our candidates are well-known local trade union and socialist activists.

Ukip has tried to pose as a quasi-left party in the elections with expensive leaflets demanding Save Our Steel, Save Our NHS – even taking up the demand for a 24-hour A&E at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, a campaign led by Socialist Party members.

Combined with the disenchantment with establishment politicians and the high profile for Ukip afforded them by the media, the proportional representation element of the elections will give Ukip some seats in the Assembly. So part of TUSC’s campaign has been to minimise Ukip’s seats by exposing their Tory links.