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Labour MSs rally behind Jeremy Miles’ leadership bid

07 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Jeremy Miles with some of his supporters outside the Senedd

A majority of Labour MSs have urged party members and trade unionists to back Jeremy Miles as the new leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister, as the campaign to replace Mark Drakeford reaches its final week.

16 Welsh Labour’s Senedd Members are backing Miles “as the best candidate to unite Welsh Labour and secure Wales’ Future”.

Ballots in the contest between Mr Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, and Vaughan Gething, Minister for the Economy, close on Thursday 14th March.

Values

In a joint statement, Mr Miles’ backers said: “We strongly urge Welsh Labour members and trade union members with votes, to support Jeremy Miles in the Welsh Labour leadership election before next Thursday.

“As Labour Senedd Members, we work closely with both candidates day in, day out to ensure our Labour values are at the heart of everything the Welsh Labour Government does. It’s our clear view Jeremy Miles is the best candidate in this contest who can unite the party and secure Wales’ future.

“Jeremy cares deeply about Wales and the people of Wales. Born and brought up in a working class family in industrial south Wales, he saw poverty and inequality with his own eyes. That experience formed his core political beliefs – and it’s why tackling poverty and inequality is the driving force behind everything he does in politics.

“He came into politics after a 20 year long career in law and business, where he provided free legal advice to vulnerable people, worked in senior roles for some of the world’s largest media sector businesses and set up his own small business.

“Since being elected in 2016, and during his time at the heart of Government since 2017, we’ve seen him put his core beliefs into action – making the cost of going to school cheaper, leading the introduction of free school meals in primary schools, and introducing a greater focus on improving the outcomes of the most disadvantaged pupils – all to ensure every child is given the best start in life, so they can achieve their true potential.

“But most of all, we know Jeremy is a thoroughly decent, honest and humble person. He respects his colleagues’ opinions and seeks to bring people along with him. And that’s because with Jeremy – leadership is about ‘we’, not ‘I’.

“His manifesto priorities are fused with Welsh Labour values: a greener economy with sustainable jobs, a plan to reduce waiting lists and help our NHS, the strongest environmental commitments of either candidate, more money for schools, better transport, building more homes, and further devolution to, and within, Wales.

“We all believe beyond doubt Jeremy is the right person to lead our party and our nation. He will always stand up for Wales. He can command the confidence of the public and the party. He is the person Plaid and the Tories fear the most – because they know he is a major threat to them in all parts of Wales.

“So that’s why we encourage party members and trade union members across Wales to vote for Jeremy Miles for Wales’ future.”

Government ministers

The statament is signed by David Rees MS, Aberavon, Alun Davies MS, Blaenau Gwent,  Sarah Murphy MS, Bridgend, Jenny Rathbone MS, Cardiff Central, Julie Morgan MS, Cardiff North, Hannah Blythyn MS, Delyn, Rhianon Passmore MS, Islwyn, Lee Waters MS, Llanelli, John Griffiths MS, Newport East, Carolyn Thomas MS, North Wales, Huw Irranca-Davies MS,Ogmore, Mick Antoniw MS, Pontypridd, Buffy Williams MS,Rhondda, Mike Hedges MS, Swansea East, Julie James MS, Swansea West, Lesley Griffiths MS, Wrexham

Miles’ supporters also include a majority of Welsh Government Ministers – Julie James, Minister for Climate Change and Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales & Trefnydd (Campaign Co-Chairs); Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution; Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn; Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan; and Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters.

Two MSs – First Minister Mark Drakeford and Chief Whip Jane Hutt – are staying neutral due to their Government roles.

Labour group

The Senedd Labour Group currently has 30 members. In the 2018 leadership election, Mark Drakeford received 58.6% of the total number of Welsh Labour MSs who nominated a candidate (17 of 29).

Mr Gething announced his bid for the leadership on 14 December, 24 hours after Mark Drakeford revealed he intended to step down this month.

He became the first candidate to secure a place on the ballot after eight Labour MSs announced their backing.

His supporters include three government ministers – Rebecca Evans, Dawn Bowden and Lynne Neagle.

His campaign is co-chaired by Newport West MS Jayne Bryant and former economy minister Ken Skates.

Other backers include Caerphilly MS Hefin David, Cynon Valley’s Vikki Howells and Mid and West Wales MS Joyce Watson.

Controversy

Mr Gething’s campaign has been mired in controversy after receiving donations totalling £200k from a waste company run by a director with two suspended jail sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the sensitive wetlands landscape near Newport known as the Gwent Levels.

He has secured the nominations of all the so-called Big Six trade unions: Unite, Unison, GMB, Community, CWU and USDAW.

Controversially, Unite’s political committee was about to nominate Mr Miles, before the union’s “Regional Secretary” for Wales, Peter Hughes intervened to claim a recently passed rule disqualified Mr  Mr Miles from being selected.

The votes of union and other affiliated members could be crucial to the result of the contest and determine who becomes Welsh Labour leader and First Minister.

While Welsh Labour itself has less than 20,000 members, there are more than 100,000 members of affiliated unions and other societies.

Affiliated members are allowed to participate in the election on exactly the same terms as ordinary party members, with each individual getting one vote. So affiliated members outnumber ordinary party members by more than five to one, although turnout among affiliates has in the past been very low.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Now you see us, soon you won’t!

The ‘nearly’ invisible rally behind the ineffective…

At least we know who to blame…

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