Weakest link

Fate dealt an unkind hand to the Welsh Socialist Alliance in 2002, blessed as it was with the misleadership of the Socialist Workers Party. Both Cymru Goch and the Socialist Party walked out, and its public profile has slipped to an all-time low. As we shall see, the WSA website does very little to bolster its ebbing fortunes. First impressions are not too bad, tending perhaps on the minimalist side. It leads with the assembly and transport details for the February 15 anti-war demonstration, which I guess is forgivable, even though this review was written a couple of days after the event. There follows a series of news items, with a prominent photo of a firefighters' rally and a number of union-related links. The page then continues down in reverse chronological order with a selection of WSA-authored reports and BBC items available on a range of issues. The bottom of the page is rounded off with a link to the resource site LabourStart and a series of themed links on low pay and union recognition. Of the main page links, the motions for the January 25 WSA conference are carried - but no minutes or report as yet (see Weekly Worker January 30 for a summary of the proceedings). Unfortunately, this page does the website as a whole no favours. All the motions and amendments are present with the exception of the one addressing Europe, owing to a broken link. But the presentation is lacklustre, to say the least - the listing of motions is all over the place and, even worse, photographs are pasted over some text. There really is no excuse for this kind of shoddy presentation. The links carried on the side bar are a mixed bag, ranging from the non-existent to the decidedly average. 'Meetings' invite us to attend the WSA conference, giving the months-old submission and circulation dates for motions and the agenda. The 'Campaigns' link gives you a couple of brief reports on the role the WSA has been playing in the Crymlyn Burrows incinerator struggle and the Mediclean dispute in Swansea's hospitals, but that is it. The 'Welsh assembly elections' page is similarly sparse, listing the three comrades who have been selected to stand, but without so much as a small biography or election address. Perhaps the 'Political fund' link has more to offer. I was at least expecting a potted analysis of the crisis of working class representation and the urgent need to fight for the democratisation of union political funds. Instead I was treated to yet another broken link. Thankfully I was relieved when the 'WSA constitution' page managed to load the entire document. Having it titled in Welsh could have been a nice touch, if the constitution was not in English only. 'Press releases' is yet another dead link. 'No to war' on the other hand is probably the best-presented page on the site. A photo of a couple of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Wales) placards is situated beneath three reports of anti-war activity from last September and October, and a call to join peace rallies across Wales in December. The resources page feebly attempts to complement these events by providing a downloadable leaflet from last September, and a small, animated WSA banner. 'About the WSA' and 'Join the WSA' links are sparse, but they do the job advertised. Unfortunately if any visitors are so moved to donate cash (to help upgrade the website perhaps?), clicking on 'Donations' results in yet another broken link. Finally, the 'Links' section is the nearest the site comes to being comprehensive. The three remaining affiliates (CPGB, SWP and Workers Power) are listed, as is the website for Swansea SA (the only WSA branch website?). Nineteen local sites from England are also listed, along with the national SA website and the home page for the Scottish Socialist Party. Visiting the WSA site was a very depressing experience. The webmaster should really ask whether their work reflects favourably upon the WSA as a whole, because, to be honest, it is very poor. Urgent work is required on the website, providing features such as updates, fixing links, and adding more resources - and that is just to start off with. Otherwise the WSA online will continue to reflect the situation in real life - as the weakest link in the Socialist Alliance movement chain. Phil Hamilton