Welsh Labour Conference this year promises to be a mostly non-controversial affair. There is, of course, one exception to this promise, that we will get onto later.
There is, as always, a Welsh Labour Grassroots (WLG) fringe this year. As always, we have an excellent lineup of speakers, for what should prove to be an interesting evening. Saturday evening, the 11th of March, at 6pm, members and supporters of WLG will be gathering at the Imperial Hotel, Vaughan Room.
Our longstanding member, and ally, Mike Hedges MS will be on our panel as ever, alongside Peter Hughes, General Secretary of Unite Wales. Beth Winter MP, an amazing socialist and strong and capable MP for Cynon Valley will also feature on the panel, for what is to be an interesting discussion about the Labour Party in Westminster. The Counsel General of Wales, and another long-standing member and ally, Mick Antoniw will be joining us too, and will feature alongside new addition, and Senedd colleague, Jenny Rathbone MS. Our final (but certainly not least!) panellist will be Cllr Emily Owen, currently deputy leader of Conwy council, who has proven herself to be an effective and strong councillor, putting socialist principles to work in local government. Scheduled to make an appearance, though not confirmed to be attending, is the First Minister of Wales, and Leader of Welsh Labour, Mark Drakeford MS. Of course, Mark has a busy schedule, and will appear if he can spare the time!
In terms of motions, WLG are generally happy with what is to be discussed. We have, as an organisation, been pushing on a few different areas this year. We are glad to see Housing prioritised. Last year saw (at long last!) the introduction of the Renting Homes Wales act, but it is clear more than ever the need to go further, be bolder, and to enact radical policies in order to combat the ever-worsening housing crisis. WLG has recently developed policy on housing, and has made our position clear; the refusal of the Welsh Government to ban no-fault evictions, and to not progress with further housing reform is, in our minds, unacceptable.
The ever present Climate Crisis will also feature on the agenda of conference this year, and we look forward to hearing what members of Welsh Labour want out of the Welsh Senedd and Government.
Constitutional Reform, focussing on the devolution of justice in particular, is also on the conference agenda. We expect and hope that the conference will be backing the further devolution of powers. Education, submitted by the Socialist Education Association, an affiliated organisation we have always been proud to work with, is also up for debate. Considering we are mid-way through the implementation of the new curriculum, we look forward to hearing the opinions of members throughout the party. In the trade union section, we certainly welcome the prioritisation of motions on Health and Workers’ Rights, key areas of our society that need to be looked at in the current political atmosphere.
Also prioritised was Arts and the Creative industries and the Economy, and we look forward to a robust debate and endorsement of socialist positions in all these areas.
The suspected controversial motion this year is that of Devolution of Welsh Labour Rules. This was, last year, an area where 13 CLPs submitted motions, none of which were accepted. This year, it was again the area with the most submissions, and it is now officially on the agenda of conference! Welsh Labour Grassroots has been supporting this effort, and looks forward to a robust debate where we can hopefully finally bring Clear Red Water into practice; ensuring that decisions about Wales are made in Wales by those who live in Wales. We must be able and ready to continue pushing this agenda, and bring democracy to the Welsh Labour Party.
This year, WLG are ready, and are organised to argue the case for socialism. With such important issues at hand, we hope we can all come together in a comradely way, and discuss not just the future of our nation, but the future of our party.
We hope to see you all at conference, and all of you at our Conference Rally!