“Friends and comrades – it is a pleasure to have been invited to speak at today’s annual general meeting.
What a year it has been! In Wales, we have shown the strength of an organised left. We have demonstrated what a left-led Labour Party can achieve and we have done so in hostile circumstances. Welsh Labour Grassroots has shown that when we organise, when we stand together and when we fight for our principles, we win!
When I stood to be a regional list candidate for the Senedd elections in 2021, it was members of WLG who ran my campaign. The support I received from all of you was key in making sure that the left topped the North Wales regional list. In that regard, I have first-hand experience of the power to achieve change that we hold as the left in Wales.
But winning isn’t the end of our ambition. We fight not for seats but for the power to make change, for the many, not the few.
We fight austerity and the flogging of state assets. As a former postie, I have seen first-hand how the market’s idea of ‘efficiency’ is job cuts, pay cuts and attacks on terms and conditions. As a proud member of Unite, I stand for public services, not private profit.
We fight to end the scandal of an NHS brought to its knees – not by Covid but by ten years of cuts which have created a perfect storm. When that storm hits in the form of the virus, all the “efficiency savings”, “private partnerships” and “management consultants” in the world could not hold a candle to the efforts of workers in hospitals up and down this land who stepped up, at huge cost to themselves.
We fight for housing for all. The housing crisis in the UK continues to prevent young and working class people from owning their own homes – with increasing numbers trapped in the private rented sector, paying off their landlords mortgage whilst being told they “can’t afford” their own. The system is fundamentally broken – instead of putting a roof over people’s heads, houses are just used as another means to enrich the few, at the expense of the many.
And we fight to tackle the climate crisis – against the capitalist class with their shares in oil companies and their obsession with telling us off for ‘consumer’ behaviour whilst they engage in corporate crime and mass-scale environmental destruction. In the face of this greenwashing, we demand a Green New Deal!
On all of these issues, whether it is the lack of action on climate change, poor public services or lack of access to public transport and housing; they are all the results of a neoliberal economic model which has an obsession with privatisation and glorifies the pursuit of profit.
In politics, wherever we look, there is a battle to be won. But also wherever we look, the workers of Wales, and of the world, are waking up.
Let us never forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Here in Wales, the Merthyr Rising saw the red flag flown for the first time as a symbol of socialism. The martyring of Dic Penderyn right through to the use of troops against striking miners at Tonypandy and onward again to the miners’ strike of the 1980s – when in Wales, 95% of miners were still out on the picket lines when the strike was called off – shows that the fight against oppression runs through the very fibre of this land we call home.
It is their resolve that we channel when we demand a real living wage for every worker, a four day working week and an end to exploitation.
We know that bosses don’t give things away – everything they have conceded has been won by organised workers and unions. Often, the power of the workers can look weak in these battles, yet time and time again working people have won.
Today, we lead the Government of Wales. The path ahead is not easy, but we have come so far already. And we know that the left has the answers to the challenges of our time:
Climate breakdown. Automation. Health Inequalities. The Housing Crisis. We can fight and we can win, as we have shown.
But as history has also shown, we do not have a right to that victory. We must organise for radical change in Wales, not assume that we will still have a Labour Government in five years’ time, or that it will be left-led. There is a world out there still to be won – we must organise to win it.
Comrades, it is an honour to stand alongside you in fighting for socialism.
Together, we can keep the red flag flying here in Wales.
Thank you. Diolch!”