Labour's Radical Warning

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Labour's Radical Warning


WHETHER Ron Davies again has his eye on the leadership of Welsh Labour or not, he is right to warn the party that it must offer Wales a radical manifesto at the forthcoming Assembly elections.

There has been a tendency in some areas of the party to take victory for granted, particularly after the success of the last General Election, when it again picked up 34 of the 40 seats.

But, as Mr Davies points out, the electorate is increasingly liable to vote differently at elections for various tiers of government. That, coupled with a woeful performance on hospital waiting lists and the generally rightward drift of Tony Blair's government in London, could well persuade many of Labour's core supporters to stay at home.

In these circumstances Labour dare not make assumptions. Instead it should unveil imaginative policies that will encourage people to believe it has a distinctively Welsh agenda.

Rhodri Morgan's ``clear red water'' speech before Christmas hinted at the areas where he parts company with Tony Blair, but there is a need to see a fleshing-out of these ideas in the party's election manifesto.

Mr Davies is also correct when he alludes to the extra dimension of politics the Assembly's existence allows parties to tap into. Successive polls have indicated that while voters may have been disappointed by the level of tangible benefits so far, there is a considerable desire for it to achieve more. If Labour is not careful, Plaid Cymru will succeed in changing public perception of the Assembly's impotence into disillusion with the dominant party of government. …

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