Welsh Labour Leadership - Mark Drakeford AM 4 Oct 2018

I am grateful to the GMB for the opportunity to set out to you the reasons why I have put my name forward for leadership of the Wales Labour Party and for First Minister of Wales.

My personal case is simply this - the coming period will see our country face unprecedented challenges.

The deepest and most unremitting period of austerity in nearly two centuries is set to continue. Leaving the EU will leave the UK, and Wales, poorer; our influence in the world diminished and our security less certain.

As the Finance Minister in the only Labour administration in the UK, every day I face what Aneurin Bevan called the "religion of socialism" – the struggle to ensure our ever-shrinking resources match Labour’s key priorities for our economy, our environment and our public services.

If I become Labour Leader then my determination will be to revive and reapply in today’s circumstances a set of fundamental and enduring democratic socialist principles forged here in Wales and which have shaped the whole of my political life.

Past record includes:

  • Giving Welsh Government support to Mick Antoniw’s Asbestos Bill which was rejected in the Supreme Court on technical grounds. Using our new tax raising powers I want to explore how this Bill, which was passed by the Assembly, can be restored.
  • Negotiating arrangements with the Trades Unions which made NHS Wales a living wage employer.
  • Actively supporting the Agriculture Wales Act which restored rights to Agriculture workers in Wales.
  • Successfully introducing the Trades Union Wales Act which disapplied parts of the UK Tory Governments anti-trades union legislation.
  • Developing and implementing the Welsh Governments Ethical Employment Codes on procurement and opposing blacklisting and anti-trades union activities by companies.

We have a unique social partnership in Wales between business, government and trades unions. It has been successful and totally contrary to the policies of conflict at the heart of the UK Tory Government.

However we can and must go further. The growth of economic and social inequality lies at the heart of our difficulties and destabilises our society. We must do what we can to bring an end to:

  • Unfair working practices,
  • Zero hours contracts,
  • Bogus self-employment and the,
  • "Uberization” of employment contracts,
  • Working conditions leading to injury, ill health or death.

Nothing is more important for Wales, and the work we carry out through the Labour Movement here, than a Labour Government in Westminster, at the earliest possible moment. Employment, for example, is a reserved matter outside our competence. While I am committed to stretching our powers to their limit, with imagination and political commitment, imagine how much more we could achieve if we were able to work alongside Labour in power at UK level. That’s why I believe Welsh Labour needs to be led by someone enthusiastic to bring that about.

If I become First Minister I will work with trades unions and the Wales TUC to introduce a Social Partnership Bill to put our social partnership on a statutory basis. It will aim to improve the quality and delivery of public services by setting public procurement rules to achieve ethical standards of employment in skills and training, working conditions, health and safety and putting collective bargaining and genuine trades union rights at its heart.

Working together, we will extend the Economic Contract to ensure that companies wishing to tender for a share of around £5 billion of public contracts at government or public sector level will have to comply with new ethical standards. I will also support the implementation in Wales of Section 1 of the Equalities Act of 2010 and pursue a policy a policy of bringing outsourced services back under public control.

As Finance Minister, in conjunction with other ministers and the Welsh Government, I have found the money needed to develop packages of financial support for manufacturing and steel production in Wales. The support given to Tata in Port Talbot and other plants in Wales was instrumental in ensuring the survival of thousands of jobs in a vital industry. The recent announcements of funding to support skills development at Airbus, Toyota and Ford are part of my determination, at Brexit Minister, to put the needs of jobs and the economy at the centre of what we do. In Wales, that means placing manufacturing at the heart of Government policy. We must protect workers’ rights and protect the investment which leads to jobs. This means tariff and regulatory-free access to the European Market and continued membership of a customs union.

I welcome the GMB General Secretary’s statement , endorsed by the TUC,  that if Theresa May cannot deliver a Brexit deal which protects all these, there has to be a second vote, either in the form of a general election or a second referendum.

As the person who represents Wales at the Brexit table alongside Scottish and UK Ministers, I am intimately aware of the vital agenda which a new First Minister will have to discharge - immediately and urgently - on taking office.

Labour in Wales needs a leader, and Wales will need a First Minister, as fully equipped as possible and with the experience to discharge those responsibilities in the most testing times since devolution.

With support from across the Labour group in the Assembly and from every part of Wales, this is what I believe I can offer.

From the moment I put my name forward to succeed Carwyn Jones, I’ve tried to give the plainest answers I can to the questions asked of me. If elected as both Labour Leader and First Minister, my offer is to take Labour through the second half of this Assembly term, to fight for every vote in the election which will follow and, if successful, to form the next administration and work with all members, affiliates and the trades union movement to develop the radical social and economic agenda which Wales will need.

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You can read the other candidate statements to GMB from Eluned Morgan AM and Vaughan Gething AM.