Welsh Labour needs a profound debate about its direction, and the run-up to the leadership election next year should see a vigorous debate on our party's future role.
I was proud to be involved in the Yes for Wales campaign in 1997; equally proud to win the Rhondda back for Labour in 2003; and proud to have been given Ministerial office by Rhodri Morgan last year.
I have also been flattered to have been asked by many Labour Party members in Wales to consider standing for the leadership of our party in Wales. I am grateful for their confidence in me and their support.
However, I want to make it clear that I do not intend to be a candidate for the leadership when Rhodri Morgan stands down next year.
I am making this statement now because I do not want every Ministerial decision I make over the next twelve months scrutinised as though it were a calculated move in a leadership campaign.
I hope that there will be a contest for the leadership when Rhodri stands down. Welsh Labour needs to be part of the battle of ideas on the future of Wales and the future of progressive politics in Wales. There is no better way than to ensure that our leadership contest explores the opportunities and challenges before us.
I intend to contribute to that debate, and I believe there are real issues all candidates must confront.
Leadership is not a singular role. Leaders require strong allies and a strong team working with them collectively to deliver change.
I hope that I can contribute skills to that leadership team, particularly in terms of ideas and implementation.
Following the US election and the Glenrothes by-election, this is a moment of progressive potential.
In Wales, we need to take advantage of that moment. Our challenge is to demonstrate the relevance of Welsh Labour – that we are focused on Wales as it is, not Wales as it was.
We need to make it clear that our appeal is to the whole of Wales, not just to those areas traditionally seen as our heartlands – from the Eastern Valleys to the Welsh-speaking North and West, from the M4 belt to the A55 corridor, our Valleys communities and our rural towns and villages in between, there must be no no-go areas for Labour.
Equally, we cannot take any part of Wales for granted. And our performance will need to improve significantly on the 2007 Assembly election.
People are impatient for delivery. They want quality outcomes and they have high aspirations for themselves and their families. They want to see public services that are responsive and personally relevant.
They want a 'yes we can' culture in Welsh public service, not a 'No we can't' culture.
They want a Labour leadership in Wales committed to strengthening the Welsh economy, supporting the private sector in the creation of wealth and supporting the trades unions in ensuring that hard-working families and the vulnerable benefit from it.
They are comfortable in their Welshness but not obsessed with it. They are comfortable with the Welsh language and its role in our culture. They are proud of their heritage but ambitious for the future. They see Wales as part of Britain but a Britain that is changing constantly.
The new Leader will have to take Welsh Labour into the 2011 Assembly election, and support our Westminster candidates in the General Election before that.
He or she will need to explain that our arrangement with Plaid Cymru in the National Assembly is based around the One Wales document and it is a coalition not a merger.
Many will feel that the only leadership choice that really matters is about who can best maximise Welsh Labour's vote in those elections.