News

Drakeford is ‘too Welsh’ for the British Labour Party, politics professor suggests

06 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Welsh Government. St David’s day: First Minister Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford is “just too Welsh” for the British Labour Party, a politics professor has suggested.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, asked why the “wider Labour party” that is “so short on success stories”, makes “so little of” the First Minister following his success at the Senedd election.

He argued that Welsh Labour’s “secret sauce” since its “humiliation at the hands of the Plaid Cymru in the first devolved election in 1999” was its “willingness to campaign from a soft nationalist position”.

But he said while Labour’s Westminster’s leader Keir Starmer “might talk the talk on ‘radical federalism’, it’s far from clear that he would be comfortable walking the walk.”

In a column for the Guardian, Richard Wyn Jones wrote: “Given that the wider Labour party is currently so short on success stories and, in particular, is failing to attract back leave voters, it may seem surprising that it continues to make so little of Drakeford.

“No doubt it is in part a reflection of a general lack of interest in, or knowledge of, Wales: Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley once reported that, in Blair’s Downing Street, Wales was regarded as ‘Scotland’s smaller, uglier sister’. Even with Scottish Labour now a wan shadow of its former self, this prioritisation still holds true.

“Neither does Drakeford fit comfortably into the dominant narratives on either side of Labour’s right-left schism.

“The first minister is avowedly on the left: not only did he vote for and support Jeremy Corbyn, but he also always votes left in the party’s internal elections. He is even – horror of horrors – an avowed republican.

“Yet Drakeford is also both an election winner and a highly competent wielder of executive power. No wonder the right-leaning Labour leadership don’t seem to know what to make of him.”

‘Neither does the left’ 

He added: “But then, neither does the left. Not least because Drakeford is the quintessential pragmatic politician, who tends to eschew the grand symbolic gesture and focuses on what he regards as achievable progress, accepting all the messy compromises this entails.

“As perhaps befits a former professor of social policy, here is also a politician whose focus is almost exclusively on domestic politics. A Corbynite, perhaps, but Drakeford is clearly very different.

“Then again, perhaps the first minister is just too Welsh for the British party at large. Since its humiliation at the hands of the Plaid Cymru in the first devolved election in 1999, Welsh Labour’s ‘special sauce’ has been its willingness to campaign from a soft nationalist position.

“The party very deliberately emphasises its Welsh identity, argues that ‘Welsh values’ and ‘Labour values’ are effectively synonymous, and claims only Labour can be relied upon to stand up for Wales.

“While Keir Starmer might talk the talk on ‘radical federalism’, it’s far from clear that he would be comfortable walking the walk.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
20 days ago

Regarding the piece in the Guardian on Mark Drakeford, too little was made of the part played by the equally trustworthy health minister Vaughan Gething…

Erisian
Erisian
20 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Spot on – good point. They are such an effective team in times like these.

Wefan
Wefan
20 days ago

Relatives in England are jealous that they don’t have someone as intelligent and measured as our First Minister, Mark Drakeford.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
20 days ago

Fraid Mark Drakeford blots his copybook somewhat with his repeated attacks on Welsh independence https://nation.cymru/news/independence-would-shut-us-off-from-the-world-says-mark-drakeford/

Bill
Bill
20 days ago

It’s good to remember that Mark Drakeford is a member of the Cooperative Party that although is an independent political party, has an electoral pact with the Labour Party. So, in terms of being left wing, he obviously prefers the simple pragmatic community based socialism of the Rochdale Pioneers, to 2800 pages of “Capital”. Which could explain why the “moving to the right” Westminster Labour Party fails to understand him, his achievements and his popularity.

Erisian
Erisian
20 days ago

And that’s a bad thing because …? Personally I’d like him to be even more more Welsh, too luke-warm on independance for my tastes, but he’s the best we’ve got right now and should be warmly celebrated.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
20 days ago

So Mark Drakeford is too Welsh for “British” Labour. Can you image similar said about being Jewish or black. But hey, it’s only us Welsh. It’s banter. Get as sense of humour, they say. My question is. Why do Welsh people vote Labour anyway when this is how they regard you?. We all know what the English fascist Tories are all about. Surely Prof Richard Wynn Jones isn’t alluding to the fact that UK Labour, let’s give them their real name, English Labour, are anti-Welsh. Nah, can’t be true? There’s no prejudice towards us Welsh in Labour or England as… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Y Cymro
Robert G
Robert G
19 days ago

Tories & Labour are the same. Wyn Roberts who served the Conservative gov’t of Thatcher and Major complained he never got a top ministers role bcos he was seen within the gov’t circles as “too Welsh.” Same goes for Drakeford. What does that tell you about the lopsided, unequal, anglo-centric Uk politics that being Welsh is met with suspicion/hostility??

Last edited 19 days ago by Robert G
Mawkernewek
18 days ago

The problem with having Mark Drakeford put into Labour’s Shadow Cabinet would be it could make Welsh devolution rather than being an end in itself, into a stepping stone, a rung on the ladder like the Championship vs. the Premier League in the English Football League.

BERYL RICHARDS
BERYL RICHARDS
15 days ago

tHATS A RACIST COMMENT AND UTTER RUBBISH

BERYL RICHARDS
BERYL RICHARDS
15 days ago

and part of the tory anti labour campaign but denigrating the Welsh culture and nationality. I cannot say how disgusted I am by this

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.