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    29 September, 2007

    Future of Welsh Labour

    The debate on the party's election performance in Wales began in earnest last week. The party's Welsh Executive has done an excellent job in reviewing what happened, and you can find an outline of that here and here.

    I very much welcome the pamphlet Wales United published jointly by Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan which sets out the case for Welsh Labour as a party committed to devolution but also supportive of the union.

    I also welcome the debate bravely started by Eluned Morgan MEP on the future direction of the party in Wales. I will be saying more about this today at an event in Carmarthenshire organised by the party there. Tom Livingstone has picked up on this in today's Western Mail.

    I am proud to represent a Valleys seat with a long Labour tradition. But if we are to win again, we need to win outside our heartland areas. If we are to win a majority again in the National Assembly, we need to look at what went right in 2003 and what went wrong in 2007. Welsh Labour needs to renew itself to ensure that it can speak for the whole of Wales. There should be no no-go areas for Labour in Wales.

    I think that there are several key elements for Labour success in Wales.

    First, we must be a listening party. We need to focus on the message the voters have sent us. It is clear that we did badly in Welsh-speaking areas of Wales. Our commitment to the Welsh language is based on our core values and our commitment to creating a more diverse and more equal Wales. I welcome the moves by Eluned Morgan MEP and Alun Davies AM to review what the party's appeal to Welsh-speakers. As a Welsh-learner, I share their aims.

    We must also ensure that we develop and strengthen our appeal to aspirational voters, including those whose lives have been made more comfortable by Labour economic success over the last ten years.

    Second, we must demonstrate that we are committed to an open style of government at all levels, so that people see Labour as being on their side, in central government, in the National Assembly and in local government. We must retain in office the passion for social change that drives our politics. We must live our politics.

    Third, we must be a campaigning party, able and ready to campaign within and across communities. Welsh Labour's community campaigning should build on our history and tradition of community socialism, campaigning with and alongside people from the communities we represent. In the Rhondda, we learned the hard way how to do that. At the end of the day what we are seeking to do is to empower people to engage with and find solutions for their communities. The structures of local government and other public services are there to support people achieve these objectives, not the other way around.

    Fourth, we must not be distracted from our community campaigning by the need to ensure that our coalition government is a success. The new Welsh Assembly Government is a coalition, not a merger. We will be aiming to defeat the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats AND Plaid Cymru in the local elections, the next General Election and the 2011 Assembly election.

    Fifth, we must ensure that the people of Wales see us as a united team – A.M.s, MPs, MEPs and Councillors working together to deliver real change on the ground. We must acknowledge the successes of our UK and Assembly governments as well as Labour in local government, not engage in a blame culture. Plaid's strategy will be to seek to divide Labour in Wales and Labour in London, and we must not allow that to happen. We are proud to be Welsh, proud to be British, proud to be Labour.

    The success of Gordon Brown as the new Prime Minister provides a strong lesson for Welsh Labour on how to renew itself in office seamlessly. We must ensure that we build on the platform that Gordon Brown has built for us.

    I contributed to the discussion on the future of Welsh Labour on BBC Radio Wales's Good Morning Wales with Eluned Morgan which you can find here

    and in this clip from the BBC's Wales Today.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.