LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE: Foot Soldiers for Labour.

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Byline: ROBERT MERRICK

IN a rousing speech to the Labour party conference yesterday, Peter Hain compared defeating the Tories to the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa.

The Welsh secretary used the 10th anniversary of democracy in South Africa to remind delegates Labour had joined the ``long struggle for freedom'' there.

In contrast, Tory students had worn ``Hang Nelson Mandela'' badges and Margaret Thatcher had condemned the African National Congress leader as a terrorist.

Mr Hain saluted his mother and father as ``heroes like Nelson Mandela'', because they were jailed, banned and forced into exile.

And he said: ``Once my parents were foot soldiers in the antiapartheid struggle. Today they are foot soldiers for Labour.

``They, like we, know that Labour has always led the fight for liberty, justice, equality, human rights, democracy. ''

Mr Hain, delivering his annual Welsh report, claimed ``Labour decency had replaced Tory exploitation'', where men and women had earned as little as pounds 1. 80 an hour.

The Conservatives were returning to the ``anti-state rhetoric of the Thatcher years'' which would bring pounds 1bn of cuts in Wales in just two years, he said.

And he insisted there was ``no such thing as a free hit at the government'' by voting Liberal Democrat at the next election.

In a single reference to the Richard Commission, Mr Hain also claimed Labour was ``moving towards full legislative powers for the Welsh Assembly''. …