Friday, October 13, 2006

What's Welsh for Brown?

Spoke to broadcaster Patrick Hannan yesterday about Wales's Gordon Brown. Who is going to lead Welsh Labour when Rhodri Morgan steps down in 2009, or sooner if Labour get a thrashing at the ballot box in May?
Environment Minister Carwyn Jones has long been considered the natural successor. That assumption has been hanging around for so long now it's hard to remember why it first arose. He earned a good name for himself during the foot-and-mouth crisis, but that is a fast-receding memory.
One observer summed it up as "Carwyn is losing the PR battle".
Mr Jones has most recently been in the news because he is embroiled in a row about the Llanelli Scarlets which, the club claims, could spell the end of Wales's most iconic rugby club. In today's Daily Post he is the object of scorn for homeowners in the Conwy Valley who are dismayed at delayed flood defences.
Meanwhile, potential rival Andrew Davies, the Enterprise Minister, was writing in the Western Mail this week that devolution had precipitated a "revolution" in the way Wales views itself. Positively First Ministerial stuff from the overseer of the hated WDA's dissolution.
But Mr Jones arguably remains the best Cabinet performer. Tory AM Glyn Davies think so.
The other runners and riders include Education Minister Jane Davidson and Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart. Ms Davidson is thought to have given a good account of herself as a minister. I hear she's briefing London hacks on the success of devolved education now. Ms Hart however does not seem to like being in the public eye. Or maybe she just doesn't like hacks.
Alliances will be key. If either of these do not go for the top job then they could help candidates get crucial union support.
Cabinet members are not the only Labour AMs considering their futures. I think it's a bit early to talk of backbench leadership bids.
But a complaint I've heard that potential leaders should heed is "things have become too Cardiff-centric under Rhodri".
A question that might occupy high-command minds is what do grass-roots members in the Valleys and north Wales want done with these longed-for law-making powers?

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