Forward Wales conference report
More than 30 delegates representing six branches
attended Forward Wales's second annual conference on 13 November.
The conference was told by outgoing national secretary Wendy Paintsil that the
party had achieved a lot in its first year with the campaign against stock
transfer in Wrexham, the Free School Meals campaign and ongoing support from the
RMT union. Limited resources meant that the party had not developed as much as
some hoped, she said.
Delegates voted to amend the party name to "Forward Wales - the Welsh Socialist
Party" to better reflect the party's political stance. The party's new
councillor, Dave Bithell, of Johnstown, argued that the name change would be a
positive step and that we shouldn't hide our politics. Clwyd South delegate
Alwyn Humphreys said the present name was "wishy-washy" and felt the new name
would align ourselves more clearly with the Scottish Socialist Party. Chair
Norma Wedley countered that "everybody knows we're a socialist party. We don't
need to tag it on the name". Despite some sharp exchanges, the vote was carried
The conference also backed the view of one of its members, former Welsh
Secretary Ron Davies, who said devolution was "a process not an event". Ron
attended as one of the five-strong delegation from the Caerffili branch. A
motion pledging to campaign "for law-making and revenue-raising powers in a
people's Parliament" was agreed. The motion, which was passed unanimously, went
on: "In the long-term, we fight for the greatest possible democracy for the
people of Wales - i.e. the right to decide our own future."
Delegates also voted for hard-hitting measures on affordable housing,
Welsh-language rights, the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, public
ownership of the Welsh rail network and a radical approach to environmental
justice against big corporations.
The party also heard heartening news that its members in the Fire Brigade Union
plan to take steps to win affiliation to Forward Wales at a branch and regional
A newly-elected National Executive has been given the task of developing policy
further on drugs and crime, as well as a clear strategy leading up to a targeted
challenge at the General Election next year.
Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~