The Socialist Party Wales annual conference was today and it was a definate reflection of the steps forward we have taken in recent years. The attendence alone not only highlighted the growth but a huge shift in the average age. Despite there being an increase in the number of older comrades in attendence there was a much bigger increase in the number of young comrades.
The first session on British and Wesh perspectives was introduced by Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party. He highlighted the dramatic changes which had happened to the party in Wales since his last visit 2 years ago, that the party was well placed to live up to the traditions of the welsh working class. Throughout his introduction he pointed the situation currenty facing us both in Britian but also internationally, I'm not going to go through it all as I ay as well just upload a perspectives document if I were to do that but one thing that did stick in my mind was a statistic Peter mentioned about Spain in which he stated that unemployment amongst the youth stood at between 40-45%! Peter went out to point out that despite our relatively small size we were able to accurately predict the crisis at every stage and have been in a prime position to react because of this.
The discussion that followed was excellent, the only problem being time constraints. Various things that were covered in the discussion included an good explanation of why were talk about perspectives, as they are a guide to action. It was generally agreed that Wales despite facing huge job losses already has been cuishioned up until now as 30% of employment is withing the public sector, but that there will e huge battles to face there after the general election. One speaker highlighted the savage attacks which are already begining in Higher Education and that these battles will intensify after the election, and we have to be prepared for the divide and rule tactics which are begining now. Throughout the discussion from both new and old comrades there was a general emphasis on youth and how to attrack them, pointing out the role that new and enthusiastic comrades play on the mindset of older comrades whuch keeps them going in the positions they hold in the labour movement. It was also pointed out that there was a need to reach out in particular to young workers in the current period, they will be explioted more so in the future with an increase in insecure temporary and even cash in hand jobs. It was also noted that voter turnout amongst young people is likely to be at an al time low.
Next we had the finance appeal which was fantastic raising some approaching £4,000, and then the lunch break,where Itook the opporutunity to discuss the progress up North with the comrades from Wrexham and Bangor. Before returning just on time for the afternoon sessions.
Alec Thraves introduced the next session on organisation, although it seems that I lost the edge with my note taking by this point. Alec highlighted the growth in the last year or so particularly with the growth Cardiff, the solidification of Newport and the north wales expansion, but went on to highlight the possibilities of the coming year with a third branch in Cardiff, new branches in Swansea, Llaneli, Ammanford and Wrexham. He explained that we are different to all the main parties, that we are not a discussion group , but a combat and activist party. Though stressing the need for a theoretical grounding in marxism as that guide to action. He pointed out that within the conference were several leading trade unionists,pointing out that they all came to that position by the support of the Socialist Party, he highighted in particular Rob Williams and his recent battles with Linimar for his reinstatement, that Rob relied on the support and advice of the party and that within 2 hours of him being dismissed Socialist Party members from all over Wales we stood outside the factory gates. He said "If you take on one member of the Sociaist Party you take on the entire Party, we don't work alone we work together as a unit" He went on to say that it is the youth comrades in the room today will be the ones leading these kind of struggles in the future.
Next we spit up into three commissions, one on trade unionism, one on youth work and the final one on branch building. I went to the commission on youth work which was introduced by Matt Dobson from the youth dept. As there were many new comrades there it was a much more interactive discussion than the others which discussed various issues, such as Youth Fight for Jobs perspective for the national demonstration in Barking and the demonstration planned at the Welsh Assembly as well as other ways in which to build support for the campain. We also discussed the importance of future campaigns within Higher Education which within Wales will be hit pretty hard mentioning some of the things processes which have already began. Overall it was a very posiitve discussion involving many new comrades involving about 20 comrades and as other young comrades had gone to the other sessions and many youth comrades were unable to attend the comference it was a great step forward from about 5 years ago where A welsh youth meeting would typically have only 6 people at it.
We then went make to the main hall for the closing of the conference, both the Welsh Perspectives document and the slate for the Wales commitee were passed unanamoiusly. A raffle was drawn and despite not buying a ticket I won a trotsky t-shirt after complaining no one told me there was a raffle and a comrade gave me one of his tickets. We closed the conference with the singing of the internationale before retiring to the pub. Overall a very positive day which set out very well future perspectives, where we are now and how far we have come and the perspectives for future developments. Aiming to double our membership in Wales within a year.