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The 2024 Welsh Labour Leadership Election

Dr Georgina Bensted
Dr Georgina Bensted


Today the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS, has announced that he will stand down in March 2024, on a day that marks his five years in the role.

So, who is likely to be on the starting blocks as the race for Welsh Labour Leader begins?

Two candidates stand out and are likely to have the nominations required already in hand - Vaughan Gething MS and Jeremy Miles MS.

Both currently hold significant portfolios in Mark Drakeford’s cabinet: Economy and Education respectively.

Vaughan Gething has a higher public profile and came second to Mark Drakeford in the last leadership election. But Jeremy Miles will also have plans in place for the forthcoming battle and has also been garnering support within the party.

Both have had their fair share of bad news, with Vaughan Gething due to appear at the Covid-19 Inquiry this spring – during the last month of the leadership election - and issues with the NHS running throughout his tenure as Health Minister. Jeremy Miles has presided over lacklustre PISA results and has less of a track record in major roles.

The nomination rules are slightly different in Wales. Candidates need 20% of the Senedd Group to nominate them – so 5 other MSs, plus themselves. Alternatively, they can rely on 10% - so 2 others – plus 10 constituency party or affiliated group nominations.

One could argue that the left of the party, or further left in Welsh Labour terms, have not yet rallied around an alternative candidate. It might be that Hannah Blythyn is nominated by that grouping within the party – a grouping which is far reduced in recent years.

The two front runners have already hoovered up most of the nominations, so the third candidate may have to rely on the 10% rule, or some kind of accommodation, as happened last time, when nominations were shared to ensure that a woman made the ballot. There will be similar pressure for that this time around.

Hannah Blythyn comes from a union background and as Deputy Minister has worked closely with the union movement on the fair work and social partnership agenda.

Eluned Morgan will be keen to stand again but may find it tricky to pick up enough support to get on to the ballot – when she had to rely on borrowed nominations – especially after a challenging time as Health Minister.

There are a number of others who may want to chance their arm instead of Blythyn or Morgan, but it would seem like a race for third place.

Within the party – the focus will be on winning support at constituency party level, amongst MPs and local government leaders, and within the union movement – though it is ultimately a one-member one-vote election.

What happens after a new First Minister is in place is not entirely clear. There would be positives for both Labour and Plaid Cymru in maintaining the Co-operation Agreement, which is, in effect, a three-year budget deal due to end after the 2024 budget in November of next year.

But the new First Minister will have a mandate for change and they could let the agreement fall and open negotiations with the sole Liberal Democrat MS, Jane Dodds, to help pass the budget. In any event, a budget deal will be needed in 2024 and in 2025.

For more information on the forthcoming election and working with leading policy-makers, contact Deryn and we can help shape your short and long-term engagement.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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