RMT rail union leader Bob Crow praised the Communst Party's candidate in Pontypridd, Robert Griffiths, as 'a champion of workers' rights and an internationalist who is implacably opposed to Blair's wars' last night (Tuesday).

In his message to an eve of poll meeting in the south Wales valley town, which Mr Griffiths is contesting against Labour minister Kim Howells, Mr Crow pointed out that the Communist Party general secretary is 'campaigning for policies that would put our railways back in the public sector where they belong, and in defence of all our public services'.

Mr Griffiths told the meeting that 'the real battle begins on May 6 against New Labour's plans to privatise health and education services and to erode democratic rights in Britain still further'.

Communist Party chair Anita Halpin, a member of the National Union of Journalists who sits on the TUC General Council, called for united campaigning to extend childcare rights and facilities, and to enforce genuinely equal pay for women workers.

Mr Crow had been unable to attend the rally in person because of a strike commencing at Initial City Link at one minute past midnight.