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.
Process
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.

Candidates
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.

  • Cadiff East Rock Steady Crew

    Carwyn has family in the North – mother’s side I think. And as this is the North the answer to the question you all want to ask is “Catholic”. But fundamentally he’s a tube.

    Huw all the way!

    Seriously, Huw is one with the new ideas. He’s the outsider but he’s the one with a brain.

    Think Carwyn, think Brown: everybody’s expected him to take over for some time but nobody is convinced he acan actually do it.

    Edwina is not exactly one of nature’s charmers but she’s a more competent version of Carwyn I’d guess

  • DR

    using Dewi s logic are Empey and McGimpsey the most senior Tories in the country atm? as they are the only two who hold ministerial seats.

  • dewi

    Boris Johnson maybe?

  • Drumlins Rock

    raises an interesting point dewi, should the London assembly be treated the same as the other devolved assemblys and the mayor the same as the First Ministers, it is a bit more than a super council.

  • dewi

    Robinson more important than Johnson no doubt – but a minister?

  • Thereyouarenow

    Dewi said
    5.Robinson more important than Johnson no doubt – but a minister?

    If you mean Peter Robinson and Boris Johnson then you are incloud cuckoo lane if you think that the First Minister of an outlying province is more important than the Mayor of london.

    If you look at the population of london and the number of people that come into it to work then you should have no doubt how important the london Mayor is.

    Not to mention that Boris Johnson has designs on becoming Tory leader and Prime Minister (I kid you not)
    This is why Boris is stirring up the European question to make life as difficult as possible for Cameron.
    It is my belief that these two former Bullingdon boys are from bosom buddies these days.

  • dewi

    Interesting. In terms of legislative ability Robinson surely has more powers. Johnson’s actions effect a lot of people no doubt. He gave a very loyal Paxman interview at the Tory conference btw.

  • Thereyouarenow

    To me Boris is a bufoon(though well connected one) but this may be an advantage in the Tory party.If you say the right things and are lucky with your enemies you can go a long way in the Tory party.

    Thatcher did well for them(from their point of view) though she was certainly no intelectual giant.

  • But, Dewi, why would any true Welshman or Welshwoman want pre-eminence in the UK?

  • dewi

    Malcolm – I’m writing in the abstract….I’m totally ambivalent about what the Welsh Labour Party do..it’s up to them…

  • But, Dewi, why would any true Welshman or Welshwoman want pre-eminence in the UK?

    To annoy the English, of course.

  • Dewi

    Simon – some of my best friends…

  • Simon Dyda on @ 02:07 PM:

    To annoy the English, of course.

    Fair enough; but that’s not the most demanding of sports, now is it? Nor is it a level playing field. I mean annoying the English. Fish in a barrel stuff.

    For some daft reason Gloucester in King Lear comes to my mind:

    I’ th’ last night’s storm I such a fellow saw,
    Which made me think a man a worm. My son
    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,
    They kill us for their sport.
    [IV.i.32-37]

    Perhaps the most depressing lines in the whole oeuvre.