1960s >> 1961 >> no-684-august-1961
News From Wales
The principality continues to provide events and talking points for that section of its people (alas, still the great majority) who see no further than the day to day controversies of those personalities and organisations whose business is to carry out the function of maintaining capitalism. The unimportance and—in some cases—the absurdities associated with the comings and goings of the various individuals who make up our Council Chambers can only be appreciated by the Socialists among us who are still much too few to have an effective voice in affairs.
Pride of place must be accorded to the local elections. The usual candidates representing the usual parties, with one or two exceptions, took the field. Labour managed to attract a good deal of support especially in industrial areas though, in rural areas mainly, the Independent and Welsh Nationalists got a fair number of votes. In the Llanelly area the Welsh Nationalist candidate made great play in his election address on the question of local rates and “abuse” of public funds. The Swansea branch SPGB made a fairly detailed statement on the question of the effect of bigger or smaller rates and tax demands and challenged the participating candidates to show how the raising or lowering of rates and taxes, etc., in any way affected the working class. The challenge was met with a blank silence.
Another point of discussion has been well aired recently, namely, the question of Sunday Opening. Despite the virulent attacks of various religious organizations, the position appears to be well on its way to a final solution—the possibilities being that in the none too distant future one will be able to have a pint of one’s favourite on a Sunday. Socialists again see this question in its true perspective and only point out that the “new freedom” when it comes may be such that pub managers and servers, etc., may have to forego a day off. Naturally such workers may be prepared, like so many more, to sacrifice more and more leisure for more and more money in order to catch up with more and more living costs.
The Report of the Committee on the Re-distribution of Boundaries, etc., has created quite a stir. Roughly, the Welsh Counties are to be amalgamated to form five large counties which will presumably cut down costs in administration, Glamorgan being the exception. This again is an example of fiddling with trivialities.
What has concerned many of the steel and tin-plate workers of the Swansea and Llanelly areas recently was the “Lock-Out” that took place at two of the Steel Co.’s of Wales strip mills. Briefly, sales in tinplate have been falling off, with increases in stocks as a result. This forced the Company to reduce the working hours with a resultant loss in wages for the workers. . The workers’ reply to this has been to operate a “go slow” policy which resulted in the Company closing the factory gates. Now, however, the workers, through their Unions, have informed the Company that “We are prepared to work immediately they call us in.” It should be perfectly plain to the workers now that not being owners of the means of production, they have no right to work or be on the premises unless they are wanted. The law, of course, would, if necessary, have fully supported the Company.
We were also to have been treated to a visit from “God Incorporated,” the Billy Graham menagerie. Billy, it seems, was taken ill, but the meeting took place despite this and attracted over 30,000 delirious hymn-singing workers. Some scenes bordered on fanaticism. It may be significant to note, lest one becomes too despairing over the scene of 30,000 workers chanting for “pie in the sky” while the Steel Company locks them out, that a report in the Western Mail points out that more and more churches in South Wales are closing down and that there is a shortage of young blood entering the Ministry.
Perhaps we shall be in a position to report in a short while on the German Panzer troops in Pembrokeshire. In the meantime, the invasion has not yet been fully arranged. When it has been then the Welsh contingent of the Polaris army at Holy Loch and elsewhere can “fight” nearer home. As for Socialists in Wales, we try to reach the brains of our fellow workers with all the means at our disposal.