The Clwyd South CLP delegation (Heather Stewart, Women’s Officer Helen Grout, Secretary Jackie Owen and Chair Vic Grout) returned home from Llandudno yesterday, tired but inspired, after the 2019 Welsh Labour Conference. From the informal opening on Friday night to the close on Sunday afternoon, including debates, talks, exhibitions, fringe events and more, so much was going on, there’s too much to squeeze into a post like this; but here are some of the highlights showing how Clwyd South representatives and members were never far from the action!
After an enthusiastic conference opening session, our own Assembly Member and Minister for North Wales, Ken Skates, as Minister for Economy and Transport, concluded the Saturday morning debates on Economy, Transport and Infrastructure. He spoke of the improved economic position in Wales in terms of employment levels and businesses and outlined the new Welsh approach to an integrated transport system.
This was followed directly by the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, giving his conference keynote address. In an excellent speech, he outlined the ambitious plans Welsh Labour have for the next few years and impressed on everyone how essential a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government is in Westminster to deliver the full benefits of Labour’s radical programme in Wales. He gave advance notice of Welsh Government’s intentions to end the unfair practice of no-fault evictions in Wales (precisely in line with Clwyd South CLP’s conference motion this year). A long standing ovation followed.
In the session on Welsh Labour Democracy, Clwyd South Chair, Vic, spoke to support the Arfon motion (rule change) to insist on greater openness and transparency in the purpose and operation of pan-Wales Labour committees and groups. He explained why it would be necessary to improve internal processes to maintain current progress.
After lunch came the man himself! Jeremy Corbyn gave an impassioned speech in which he praised Welsh Labour members for the work they’d done, condemned Tory austerity and emphasised the essential point that the real divide across the UK right now isn’t between Brexit supporters and ‘remainers’ but between those at different ends of the economic spectrum – the ‘many and the few’. There’s a greater need than ever, he said, for calm heads and socialist solidarity across the party. Another very long standing ovation.
Then, in the session on Health and Social Care, Clwyd South CLP’s Women’s Officer, Helen spoke to support Clwyd West CLP’s motion proposing a legal requirement for support for autism. She spoke from both a professional perspective as working for a national autism charity and personally as the mother of two autistic children. Although the motion was eventually lost (through the practice of pre-determined union delegate voting), her talk made a huge impact on conference with many delegates asking for advice, etc. afterwards. This is likely to be the start on an ongoing national campaign with information sharing and monitoring of progress across Wales. This issue isn’t going away. Watch this space.
Later in the same session, Vic thanked Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, for her work following Clwyd South CLP’s 2018 motion to save the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) and asked for an update on progress. Julie reported that Welsh Government would now guarantee independent needs assessment for all WILG recipients requesting it and fund any resultant additional care. WILG recipients were currently being informed of their new rights individually. Another great result for a campaign with Clwyd South CLP at its heart!
In the session on Housing, Local Government and Communities, this year’s Clwyd South CLP motion on ending no-fault evictions (also proposed by four other CLPs) was passed with the full support of the Welsh Executive Committee and conference delegates. A great result.
Vic spoke again at the very end of the conference to impress upon delegates that a piecemeal approach to environmental issues would prove insufficient: the only credible way to ensure environmental survival, he pointed out, was to go right to the heart of the global capitalist system.
After some comradely farewells, the team returned home, having – as usual – made a huge impact on conference, and ready to rejoin the struggle. The UK Labour Conference will take place in Brighton later this year and preparations are already in place here in Clwyd South!