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Welsh Labour – “Charting the course” for a future UK government?

Welsh Labour delegates find themselves in a unique position at the party’s conference in Liverpool.

The UK party as a whole is a party questioning itself, trying to work out what it did wrong before losing power in 2010 and coming up with some radical and controversial ideas about how to change in order to win back voters’ trust.

But Welsh Labour members and leaders are here feeling triumphant after making significant gains in May’s Welsh election.

Even if those gains weren’t quite enough for a comfortable majority in Cardiff Bay, it was certainly a major turnaround for a party that had appeared to be in decline.

And they were certainly enough for Carwyn Jones to be described, as he has been here, as leading the only Labour government in the UK.

It’s a position that means there is virtually no clamour for Welsh Labour to be given more independence from the UK party as there is for the Scottish Labour party.

In fact those who I’ve spoken to almost universally see what’s being proposed for Scotland solely as a result of Labour’s dire performance there.

A number, including the First Minister, have hinted that greater autonomy for the Welsh party could be something for the future but that there’s no pressure to do so yet.

Then there’s the question about how much Welsh Labour is affected by the controversial shake-up being led by Peter Hain, known as ‘Refounding Labour.’

The simple answer to that is ‘completely’ since Welsh Labour is not a separate entity from the UK party so any changes such as allowing ‘registered supporters’ to vote in leadership elections will affect Wales.

And to be fair, I found a surprising amount of enthusiasm for some of the ideas even if members are doubtful that many people will sign up to become registered supporters.

But a senior party official told me that Welsh Labour will have quite a say on how much of Refounding Labour to adopt.

The third thing to note about Welsh Labour here in Liverpool is how welcomed its ideas are by the UK leadership.

Where previously Labour MPs and even ministers have sometimes been critical of the more traditionally socialist approach, at this conference ‘the Welsh way’ is being held up as a template.

In fact leader Ed Miliband told the traditional Welsh night that Carwyn Jones’ government was ‘charting the course’ for a future UK Labour government.

They may be just warm words, but it’s clear that, for some at least, the Welsh Labour way is being seen as one of the ways back to power.

About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.


One thought on “Welsh Labour – “Charting the course” for a future UK government?

  1. The major issues with emulating Welsh Labour on a UK level in my opinion are:

    1. A lack of a majority in England of “I votes Labour because my family have done for 3,000 years like” – England is inherently Conservative voting. Wales is not and it was easier to round up the “lost sheep” back to the Labour fold.
    2. There IS a strong UK media that will discuss all stories and events from a UK perspective, as opposed to from the perspective of another country where things are happening differently, thereby ignoring domestic events, as happened here in Wales. With the lack of a Welsh media to discuss purely Welsh events, the UK media discussed events that bore no relevance to Wales, but because of people’s lack of information around devolution, most voters thought that things like the NHS plans in England would happen in Wales, allowing Welsh Labour to shape the arguments in terms of point 3.
    3 The anti-London government rhetoric will not exist in the wider UK, as happened in Wales. Defending Wales from London’s Tory cuts isn’t an argument. Though defending the UK from a Tory UK government will possibly be, but many voters blame Labour for the economic mess caused. In Wales it was easy for Carwyn to project the economy as a London mess caused elsewhere.

    Posted by lionel | September 26, 2011, 4:07 pm

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