Saturday, 17 May 2008

…Go on, say something!

Published on Bevan Foundation blog on 13 April 2008

Within 18 months, at the most, Wales will get a new First Minister; and Labour a new leader.

At the risk of repeating myself, there should be no assumption that the person who fills these offices will be the same.

But for the Party that assumes they will remain in control, shouldn’t it be a cause of concern that there is no debate about what the future holds?

Of course there is lots of speculation and gossip within the Cardiff Bay bubble about personalities: Will Leighton get enough nominations to take on Carwyn; Has Andrew lost his appetite; Will Edwina take the advice of those around her and stand etc.

But on the question of what any of these (potential) candidates will do with power there is silence.

“Too early to start campaigning yet”, I am told by those who have the ear of one of the contenders. But with Labour facing certain losses in the next month’s Council elections, am I the only one who thinks we should be hearing more about what those who wish to lead their Party plan to do to bring about a revival?

Ideas Wales has done nothing since its interesting, but ultimately pointless, seminar in Feburary. Wales 2020 has published three interesting pamphlets but has generated little debate.

And the source of debate and ideas outside the Labour Party is little better. The Bevan Society deserves credit for staring this blog, but the IWA has become a prisoner of caution.

Tempting as it is to blame others, culpability rests of the door of those who wish to lead.

Rhodri Morgan has given his party the courtesy of a leaving date. The job has been advertised, so let’s see the CVs – and more importantly lets here the presentations.

It seems at times that no one wishes to offend the First Minister by taking him at his word and planning for his departure. What is everyone waiting for? I’m sure they’re all busy Governing Wales and keeping a coalition together, but they won’t have to worry about it for much longer unless they start thinking, and talking, about the future.

In a brilliant speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester 18 months ago Bill Clinton told Labour that unless they presented themselves as the agents of change somebody else would fill the gap. “Make no mistake about it”, he said, the question for voters “is not whether you will change. It's how you will change and in what direction.

But at this rate the only change Labour is heading towards is opposition.

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