Mark Drakeford launches Welsh Labour 2021 election campaign

Elliot Chappell

Mark Drakeford will launch the Welsh Labour campaign for the police and crime commissioner and Senedd elections with six pledges that he will say form “the bedrock of our manifesto and our plan to keep moving Wales forward”.

Addressing the public via livestream at an event on Thursday morning, the Welsh Labour leader will tell voters that his party is “setting out a platform to move Wales forward into the future with confidence and hope”.

“To build a brighter, fairer and more equal Wales for future generations. The Tories won’t build that future,” the First Minister is expected to say.

“They’ve never put the interests of Wales first and have shown that more clearly than ever over these last months. Their solution to every problem in this pandemic? Wales should simply copy England. That’s not leadership.

“Plaid Cymru can’t build that future, either. They haven’t had to make any difficult decisions through these last 12 months and you can see that inexperience bursting through into this election campaign.

“This year it has been one unfunded and undeliverable campaign promise after another. No plan to pay for them; no credible way to deliver them. That’s not leadership. Leadership isn’t about simply saying things that you think people want to hear.”

The First Minister and Welsh Labour leader is expected to on Thursday unveil part of his party’s policy platform for the May election, including a ‘young person’s guarantee’ of a place in work, education, training or self-employment.

The guarantee, one of six key policies that will form the basis of the party’s campaign over the next few weeks, will relate to everyone in Wales under the age of 25 and include 125,000 new apprenticeships to help young people into better jobs.

Commenting ahead of the event, Drakeford said: “We will set out six key pledges that will be the bedrock of our manifesto and our plan to keep moving Wales forward. Clear and costed promises that will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“For young people, a pledge to stand with them as they face the worst economic crisis we’ve ever seen. For our communities, a pledge to help keep people and our streets safe.

“Where the Tories want to cut all 500 of the vital police and community support officers that the Welsh Labour government funds, we will not only protect them – we’ll fund 100 more.”

The responsibility for policing in Wales lies with the UK government, but the Welsh Labour administration committed to funding 500 community support officers to ease the pressure caused by the austerity cuts pursued by Westminster.

In a keynote speech to the Welsh Labour Party online ‘Spring Forward’ event in February, Drakeford outlined his proposals for the devolved nation as his party adopted the new strapline for the election: “Moving Wales Forward”.

He set out the ground on which the Welsh Labour Party will fight the Senedd election on May 6th this year with a policy programme that he argued puts fighting the climate emergency “at the heart of everything we do”.

The campaign launch on Thursday morning follows the release of a party political broadcast earlier this month, in which Drakeford told voters that Labour’s plan for the devolved nation is “bold and ambitious – as it should be”.

The short message featured residents explaining why they will be voting for the party in the May election and focused on some of the achievements of the Labour administration, both during the pandemic and over the last few years.

The first Welsh Political Barometer poll of 2021 showed Labour ahead in the contest for the Senedd last month, with 34% of voters backing the Welsh Labour Party. This was down four points on the previous research carried out in October last year.

A YouGov poll released at the start of March predicted that the party is on course to lose five seats in the upcoming vote and that, while Labour would remain the largest party in the Senedd, it would fail to secure overall control of the Senedd.

The research suggested that the party will secure 33% of the constituency vote and 29% of the list vote. The Tories are projected as coming second, with the backing of 28% and 25% of the electorate in the constituency and list votes respectively.

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