Over 50 delegates attended the second all Wales Morning Star in Pontypridd over the weekend, from a broad spectrum of the Welsh Left including representatives from the trade union movement, Labour Party, Welsh Communist Party, Plaid Cymru, Green Party and Socialist Party.

The successful conference was the first opportunity for the Left in Wales to analyse the post general election situation and begin to plan the sort of strategy that will be needed to defeat the ConDem's cuts agenda and provide a progressive alternative (see below the Morning Star's coverage of the event). During the lunch break the conference heard from Ross Williams, a local ex-soldier, who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq and is now part of a growing ex-services campaign against the war and for the troops to be brought home.

Wales calls on the left to save services

Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart told the Morning Star annual conference in Pontypridd this weekend that the assembly government must build more partnerships with trade unions to develop a united front to defend services.

She said that the Westminster government's determination to abolish the NHS in England would put "clear pressures" on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland because of cross-border relationships.

Ms Hart stressed that there would be no compulsory redundancies in the health service in Wales "since compulsory redundancies show that you're not managing very well."

She pointed out that many GPs in England would not be able to manage the new financial arrangements imposed on them and "the health-care vulture companies will come in to replace them.

"These changes are driven by dogma," she asserted.

The health minister recognised that the Con-Dem coalition had been assisted by some of the policies implemented by new Labour, leaving the NHS "ripe for privatisation.

"Too many ministers followed the private sector good, public sector bad approach instead of constructing an NHS model that would have been more difficult to privatise," she charged.

Ms Hart insisted that she did not accept that the current deficit must be reduced speedily, adding: "It is ironic that only the US is following Keynesian principles at the moment."

She confirmed the vital nature of the public sector, stating that without it "building firms would go down the pan."

Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths said: "History teaches us that there is always a way out for capitalism if it can make working people bear the brunt of the crisis."

He said that the Con-Dem government had declared war on the working class but most union leaders appeared to be in denial, acting as if the blitz would not hit us in the near future.

"Very little preparation is being made. All unions in the public sector must be reminded of their responsibility to unite to resist the coming onslaught."

Wales TUC president Sian Wiblin drew attention to the way in which debate had "shifted away from how to restrain the banking sector to how to cut the public sector."

She took issue with the myth that public-sector workers had somehow been immune from previous cuts and highlighted the madness of productive workers being driven onto the dole.

by John Haylett in Pontypridd