Come May 2010 – the most important Labour politician in Britain will be…

Ever heard of Carwyn Jones, Edwina Hart or Huw Lewis?
I wouldn’t be too concerned if you haven’t. I asked in the office who was standing to suceed Rhodri Morgan as Labour Assembly leader and First Minister in the One Wales Labour coalition and the response was deafening.
Strange really, as come the next General Election one of the above will very probably be the senior elected Labour politician in the countries of Britain.
An electoral college of 3 parts of equal strength will decide the winner:
1) Elected AMs, MPs and MEP with an equal say – 1 MEP, 26 AMs and 29 MPs. This means that MPs have a greater say in who becomes leader in the Assembly than Assembly Members themselves. Very strange.
2) Party Membership – I’d guess about 10,000 people give or take 2000.
3) Unions affiliated to the Welsh Labour Party – this lot with the percentages of the cake. These represent 300,000 members whose votes will be split proportionally.
Unite 36%, Unison Cymru 18.7%, GMB 18.3%, USDAW 7.9%, CWU 5%, Community 3.6%, Wales Co-op Party 3.6%, NUM South Wales 1.8%, UCATT 1.8%, ASLEF 0.7%, Musicians Union 0.7%, BECTU 0.4%, TSSA 0.4%, Fabians 0.4%, Socialist Health Association 0.4%, Welsh Labour Students 0.4%
It’s worth noting that NUM South Wales has a direct influence on 0.6% of the total college.
Voting will close on November 26 with the result announced on December 1st.

1) Carwyn Jones – AM for Bridgend and Consul General in the Administration. Built a good reputation for the excellent handing of the Food and Mouth crisis of 2001. Mr Jones is a fluent Welsh speaker and has served as
Agriculture and Education and Culture Minister in successive Welsh Administrations.
Here’s his Intro. He looks like a politician doesn’t he? He, in the past, has faced internal critiscism for being too close to nationalism. Hence he concludes his intro: “Like everyone else in the Labour Party I’m proud to be Welsh but also proud to be British”
+ves – Safe pair of hands, good on TV, experienced in the workings of Government.
-ves – there are rumours being spread of laziness. He has also received the endorsement of less AMs, 6 than Edwina Hart.
Here’s his Twittering Website

2) Edwina Hart – AM for Gower and Health Minister in the Administration. Certainly industrious (we seem to re-organise the Health Service every other year) she also is honest. When she rejected the professional advice of health experts to centralise neurosurgery in the South in Cardiff instead of retaining a site in Swansea also she, refreshingly, defended the decision on political grounds. Edwina’s intro. I’ve always liked “Come Home” themes – Edwina appeals to the electorate to “Come Home to Labour”. Not a Welsh speaker although her great grandfather was a bard who published under the name of Dewi Samlet.
+ves – honest, industrious and the most popular nominee of the AMs with 8.
-ves – unpopular with MPs apparently and probably third in the Union vote.
Here’s Edwina’s twitter.

3) Huw Lewis – AM for Merthyr and a backbencher. Mr Lewis opposed the Lab-Plaid coalition and left the administration. He’s been careful to profess his loyalty and willingness to keep with the programme if successful. His wife, Lynne Neagle, is also an AM and one of his nominees. Best quote of the campaign so far from Ms Neagle:
“Now, there are three good candidates to choose from. Carwyn’s easy, affable manner is an attractive quality in the Assembly Chamber; Edwina’s decisive nature as Health Minister has been a valuable asset – but I don’t live with either of them.” – Cool.
Lewis is generally thought of as the most sceptical devo-enthusiast of the three. He’s quite convincing in his defence however. Anyway – Intro. – I quite liked “And I know these You Tube videos are always awful”. Mr Lewis is learning Welsh.
+ves – as the anti devolution element of Welsh Labour have nowhere else to go he’s got a core vote. He’s also quite a nice speaker which will go well in the hustings.
-ves – lowest number and lowest calibre of AM nominations. I also wonder if Rhodri Morgan, behind the scenes, might be briefing against Mr Lewis.
Nice website – busting the myths.

As a neutral it’s interesting to see how post devolution Welsh Labour adapt to the most challenging period in it’s history. Carwyn’s the favourite but I’m not as sure – one of the other two needs to shine to mount a real challenge but there’s plenty of time.

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