Welsh Labour Leadership - Vaughan Gething AM 4 Oct 2018

I have been a GMB member since 1996, when Terry Thomas was the political officer. I have been a GMB shop steward and as a GMB member became the youngest and first black President of Wales TUC. As an active GMB member, it would be a huge honour to have GMB support in this contest.

I am standing in this contest and seeking your support to deliver a better future for our members and working people across Wales.

This contest is about the future of our party and our country. It is not a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy has won two decisive victories as the UK leader and deserves our support. We all recognise that austerity will not end until there is a Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. We will not turn back the social and economic damage done by 8 years of Tory government without a Labour Party general election win. One of my top priorities as leader would be to work with Parliamentary colleagues and local parties to secure a UK Labour Government, to end austerity and invest in a fairer future.

I am proud that that last UK Labour manifesto took on board many of the ideas that Welsh Labour is already delivering. Despite our success in leading Wales since the Assembly began we face unique challenges. We cannot take for granted that we will win again. Plaid Cymru and Welsh Tory figures are openly discussing the prospect of an anti-Labour Government. That is even more likely with Adam Price as Plaid Cymru leader.

More of the same will not be good enough – we must be radical to see off that threat and deliver for the people we serve. I therefore have 5 policy priority areas I want to focus on.

National Care Service

We should create a National Care Service for Wales delivered by local authorities and funded by a levy with our new tax powers. This would be the biggest change to health and care in our country since the creation of the NHS. I want to see an end to 15-minute calls and better terms for our staff.

Good Work, Fair Work

Having standards of good and fair work is essential. One of the reasons many people in Wales voted leave was that they didn’t feel they had much stake in the country today. Just getting by on low pay is no way to face the future. The new economic contract cannot be the limit of our ambition. We need to be radical and ambitious about the future of work, working in partnership with both Trade Unions and businesses.

Build For Wales’ Future

I want to make sure that the whole of Wales benefits from capital investment. Across Wales we’ve seen new schools, new hospitals and new transport links. We cannot pretend the M4 decision is a local issue that can be resolved by walking and cycling. This is a huge strategic choice for our economic future and the jobs that depend upon it. I want to see housing investment, including a much more ambitious approach to co-operative housing. We must continue to press the case for tidal power in addition to nuclear power. GMB members are already working in Hinckley and the Welsh Government has a role to play for Wylfa. A reluctant or hostile Welsh Government approach to Wylfa is bad news for the whole of North Wales.

Poverty and Inequality

Tory welfare reform has pushed many families back into poverty, as predicted. In contrast I’m proud of the work of Flying Start across Wales. 

We need to transform our approach to tackling poverty. We need to provide more work and better work to break the back of poverty. I want a radical external review to give us a no-holds-barred account of we make the best use of Welsh Government powers. That will require honesty about where we haven’t succeeded in the past with much greater resources.

People’s Vote

I have been very clear that we should support the campaign for a People’s Vote. I am delighted to see that the GMB is now leading the way and has helped to move the UK Labour Party forward on this crucial issue.

There are of course many more challenges that we face, especially as we know that the world of work is changing quickly. The social partnership that we enjoy in Wales is a basis to meet the challenges of the future, but we must build on this and go further. I am especially interested in seeing how our agreements on ethical procurement can be taken forward.

I respect other voices who want a bigger assembly and full PR in 2021. However I think they are profoundly wrong. Much of the public, including GMB members, think politics and politicians are out of touch with their lives. Arguing for more grey politicians and a voting system most people don’t understand won’t reconnect politics with people. This contest offers an opportunity to restart the relationship we need with working people and the communities they live in. We have to take that opportunity.

I haven’t shied away from difficult challenges in government or beforehand. I was brought into the toughest department at the request of the then minister to handle the most difficult areas of the brief. Before elected politics I had a successful argument with Rhodri Morgan and his advisors on candidate selection to ensure that we did not have an all white field of candidates. I led the calls for a woman to take part in this contest. I have stood up and been counted when it might have been easier to shy away.

The leader of Welsh Labour must be prepared to show courage and make difficult choices in the most testing political time since devolution. I believe I can do that and maintain the values that drive all of us in the labour and trade union movement.

We simply cannot offer more of the same. If we do not renew our leadership in this contest then we risk being seen by the public as tired and complacent. I believe that I can offer the change and the leadership that we will need to win a Welsh Labour majority in 2021.

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You can read the other candidate statements to GMB from Mark Drakeford AM and Eluned Morgan AM.