Venue Cymru, Llandudno, 20 – 22/4/18, SHACW delegate’s report,
I’ve concentrated on the session on Saturday morning as it had most relevance to SHACW. As Tony Beddow was attending in another role he was also able to speak and attend sessions, so usefully we could confer on decisions about voting that I had to make on your behalf.
Saturday 21April :
Standing Orders Committee (SOC) report. Two motions on OMOV had been ruled out of order by the SOC. Proposers of both motions moved ‘reference back’, but regrettably the votes were lost.
Another concerning issue was that 5 CLPs and 4 Women’s Forums had been prevented from taking part in conference (submitting motions or sending delegates) because of late payment of affiliation fees, including Aberconwy CLP, the conference venue! The SOC proposed no solutions to this, so this will need to be addressed by Welsh Labour so that this does not happen again for conference 2019.
Welsh Labour Deputy Leadership result
Carolyn Harris (MP for Swansea East) was elected. While it is good that we have a woman in that role, the nature of the results renewed calls for OMOV in leadership and deputy leadership elections. Julie Morgan (AM for Cardiff North and supported for the position by SHACW) received more votes than Carolyn in the membership section of the electoral college (a ratio of 2:1), and in fact gained most votes overall. Turnout in the membership section was around 38%, but only 4.7% in the affiliates’ section. In the elected representatives section 4 of the 58 AMs and MPs (and one MEP) eligible to vote did not do so; the elected representatives’ votes equated to more than 400 times those of ordinary members.
A Healthy and Active Wales :
This session was introduced by Minister Huw Irranca Davies AM.
Motion 5: Differential Pay for Whole or Part Time NHS Consultants – Gower CLP
Unfortunately this motion fell as there was no proposer, due to some confusion.
Motion 4: The Welsh Independent Living Grant – Clwyd South CLP refused the request of the WEC to remit this motion and it was passed. I voted in favour, because before conference we had been pursuing this issue with Huw Irranca Davies, advised by our North Wales member Pauline Cutress.
Motion 7: Major Trauma Centre – Swansea West CLP reluctantly agreed to remit this. It was good though that Tony Beddow managed to be called to speak in support of the motion, which he did with his usual eloquence.
Motion 12: Nursing Education – Arfon CLP
This motion called for the reinstatement of the bursary for nursing education. The Welsh government has kept the bursary, in contrast with the abolition of the bursary in England by the UK government. However the bursary is means tested now in Wales. Speakers to the motion argued convincingly that introducing the means test was a disincentive to those on low incomes. I supported the motion, and it was passed, although clearly we would want to see this extended to all health care professionals. I spoke with the mover of the motion after the debate and hope to keep in touch with her.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething, AM concluded this session.
WEC Report, WPF Report & Rule Changes
Proposed rule change: Affiliation Fees – Socialist Health Association
“Trade Unions shall pay an affiliation fee of £73 per annum for the first 1,000 members and £47 per annum for every further 1,000 member or part thereof resident in Wales with a minimum payment of £220. Affiliated socialist bodies shall pay an affiliation fee of £73 per annum for the first 1,000 members and £47 per annum for every further 1,000 members.
Our motion above was overwhelmingly supported in a card vote (93% in favour!) It was supported by the WEC so eventually was uncontroversial. I therefore took the opportunity to advertise the SHA (and the SEA) in my allotted 5 minutes as proposer.
The background to this is that this year instead of £50, we had to pay £220 (and potentially £280 next year, if it increased in line with inflation). This may be affordable for a trade union but not for smaller socialist societies, like ourselves. This minimum fee of £220 had been agreed at the 2008 conference but apparently not implemented until this year. If the SEA and SHA hadn’t challenged it though, we would have had half our income taken up with this fee in the future.
Motion 11 – Welsh Labour Women’s Conference – Cardiff West Women’s Forum
Cardiff West Women’s Forum’s motion on making Welsh Women’s Conference a policy-making body (as is happening now for the Scotland and UK Women’s conferences) was remitted on the understanding that it will be seriously considered by the Welsh Labour democracy review (more on this later!).
100 years of Women’s suffrage: Anita Gale’s presentation highlighted the gains made by women over the past 100 years, but the battles we still have to win. Notable though, at this conference, was the increased participation by women in all debates.
OMOV Fringe lunchtime
Tony and I attended this, hosted by Cardiff West, on behalf of ‘CYFLE’ (the OMOV campaign by CLPs), with guest speakers Lesley Griffiths (Wrexham AM), Julie James (Swansea West AM) and Julie Morgan and chaired by Mark Drakeford. SHACW donated £50 to support the event.
It was emphasized that the event was intended to question the legitimacy of the electoral college system and not to criticise any one individual. Contributions from the floor were made by people from across Wales. It was advocated that the leadership and deputy leadership electoral arrangements should be addressed ASAP, before the rest of the issues in the Welsh Labour democracy review, with a special conference by the summer.
Keynote address – Carwyn Jones AM
Carwyn spoke at first with his usual panache and humour on the achievements of Welsh Labour. He then announced his intention to resign as Welsh Labour Leader in the autumn, with a new leader to be elected by December, which seemed to be a surprise to everyone. This of course makes the need to sort out the arrangements for leadership elections even more pressing.
An Ambitious and Learning Wales
Motion 2: Period Poverty – Aberconwy Women’s Forum – passed.
Motion 2a: Period Poverty – Cardiff Central Women’s Forum – remitted.
These linked back into Carwyn’s speech where he noted that Welsh Government were investing £1 million into ending period poverty in Wales.
Motion 6: People Trafficking and Modern Slavery – Co-operative Party – passed
A Prosperous and Secure Wales
Motion 9: The Future of Automation in Wales – UNITE and
Motion 1: Rail Freight in Wales – ASLEF – both passed.
Securing Wales’ Future – Brexit & Devolution
Motion 3: The Wales Act 2017 – GMB
Motion 13: Brexit and a Fair Deal at Work – CWU – both passed.
The day concluded with a short report but lively (given she had the graveyard slot!) from the leader of the WLGA, Newport Council leader Debbie Willcox.
09:30 – 10:30 Workshops
Democracy Review with Katy Clark and Jeremy Miles AM
I attended this. This was about theUKParty Democracy Review, with Katy Clark, Jeremy Corbyn’s Political Secretary. Katy described the scope of the review and heard to contributions from across different areas of Wales and sections of the party. These included ideas about how branches and CLPs could involve our increased membership much more in the diverse constituencies we have in Wales, from inner city to large, sparsely populated rural areas. We also touched on the links between this review and the proposed Welsh review.
Antisemitism Awareness Workshop
Tony Beddow attended this and reported back that this was interesting though there seemed to be few known instances of this form of racism in Wales. He also found the workshop rather focused on issues affecting London.
Sunday’s main sessionopened formally with tributes to party members who had sadly passed away during the last year- in particular, there was a tribute to Rhodri Morgan, with a great but poignant accompanying video.
The main events were speeches from Jennie Formby, newly-appointed General Secretary of the UK party, and party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy’s speech was inspiring and he made much reference to Welsh issues and policies and acknowledged Julie Morgan’s long history of campaigning. There was also a short session entitled ‘United and Connected Wales’, during which a motion on outsourcing from UNISON was unanimously supported. The emergency motion relating to the ‘University of South Wales – Arm’s Length Company’ was rescinded in the interest of negotiations that had begun.
Motion 10 – Democracy Review – CLPs: Cynon Valley, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Ynys Mon & Monmouth
This motion came out of the OMOV campaign (calling for a party democracy review on the areas of the party recently devolved to Wales, including leadership and deputy leadership electoral arrangements). It was comfortably passed with support from the Welsh Executive Committee. Members from across Wales spoke in support.
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