Carwyn Jones has urged delegates at party conference to vote for a package of rule changes tomorrow that would hand significantly more autonomy to Welsh Labour.
Speaking to LabourList today, Jones said that Welsh Labour has “waited years” to be given devolved powers within the party structure. “We’ve been looking for years to make sure devolution happens within the party as well as in the country”, the Welsh First Minister said.
In particular, Jones is keen for the party to take control of selection processes for Westminster seats – a key priority for Scottish Labour too.
“What we’re looking for is having formal control over the selection process in the rule book”, he said, adding that this would “potentially” mean being able to reform the rules around selections are carried out.
“But we wouldn’t be looking to make wholesale changes”, he said – possibly a suggestion that Welsh Labour would form a bulwark to protect its own MPs from any move to implement mandatory re-selection.
However, whether the reforms will pass is still up in the air – as we reported earlier in the week – due to unhappiness from Jeremy Corbyn’s allies about the changes to the party’s NEC.
Jones clearly believes that the likeliest opposition to the reforms package will come from the trade unions section. Asked what his message is for undecided delegates, he replied: “We have worked strongly with our trade union colleagues over the years, we are looking to repeal sections of the Trade Union Act, we’ve got rid of the right to buy, we don’t have grammar schools in Wales.
“We have worked to deliver Labour policies in Wales. What we want from our colleagues now is to deliver devolution within our party. We can’t go on with a situation where our party appears centralised and not reflecting the reality of British politics now.”
The Welsh Labour leader also appeared scornful of suggestions from within Labour in recent months that the party could form electoral pacts with other left-of-centre parties, including Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru.
“Politics in Wales is not as tribal, because the nature of the Assembly’s electoral system means we have to work with other parties in a way that isn’t really required most of the time in Westminster,” he said, but added: “Electoral pacts are tougher. Who would have an electoral pact with? Making coalitions and arrangements after an election is legitimate. The public would expect parties, if they don’t have a majority, to talk to other parties.”