“A real plan to move Wales forward”: Welsh Labour launches 2021 manifesto

Elliot Chappell

Welsh Labour will launch its manifesto on Thursday for the upcoming Senedd elections, with six key pledges to help the devolved nation recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and set out a “real plan to move Wales forward”.

The Welsh Labour Party has stressed that its commitments are affordable, even with the Tories pursuing an austerity agenda in Westminster, and that its spending plans do not rely on any increase in devolved taxes or on decision from UK ministers.

“This election is a choice. It is about trust and ambition. A choice to go on investing in our young people with a Welsh Labour government or to take a different path,” First Minister Mark Drakeford said ahead of the launch.

“Today we launch a manifesto that sets out Welsh Labour’s plan to go on investing in the future. A plan to help us not only recover from Covid, but to do something more – to build the Wales of tomorrow.”

The Welsh Labour leader added that the pledges in the manifesto “can and will” be realised if voters choose to back Labour in the vote on May 6th. The party has said there are six “ambitious pledges” at the heart of its manifesto:

  • Recovery after Covid – Welsh Labour will put in place the biggest ever catch-up programme in our NHS and schools we’ve ever seen and build a new medical school for North Wales;
  • A young persons guarantee – Welsh Labour will give every young person under the age of 25 the guaranteed offer of a job or a place in education, training or help to start their own business;
  • A fair deal for care – Welsh Labour will give our amazing care staff who helped us through the pandemic a fair deal at work with the guarantee of the real living wage;
  • A greener country – Welsh Labour will take action for future generations and make Wales a greener country by abolishing more single use plastics and by creating a national forest for Wales;
  • Safer communities – Welsh Labour will help keep our communities safe by putting 100 more police community support officers on our streets, funding 600 in total across Wales; and
  • New jobs for Wales – Welsh Labour will create thousands of new jobs in a low carbon house building revolution, including building 20,000 new low carbon social homes for rent.”

Speaking at the campaign launch in March, ahead of the release of the manifesto, Drakeford argued that Labour is the only party that “can and will deliver all of its promises” and committed to delivering on the six pledges – “no ifs, no buts”.

The manifesto is also expected to outline how the party will invest in a “new generation of integrated health and social care centres” across the country, bringing services together and allowing people to access a range of support in one place.

The party will commit to prioritising investment in mental health services services as part of its plan for long-term recovery from the pandemic, rolling out child and adolescent mental health ‘in-reach’ services in schools.

And the manifesto reiterates Labour’s plan to establish a new medical school in North Wales, with the party pledging to recruit 12,000 doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and psychologists while continuing to fund the NHS bursary.

The manifesto launch follows a keynote speech from the Welsh Labour leader in February, in which he declared that the next devolved Labour administration would put the climate crisis “at the heart of everything we do”.

The party also released a party political broadcast last month, in which Drakeford told the Welsh public that the Labour Party’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 seven seats in the upcoming vote and that, while Labour would remain the largest party in the Senedd, it would not 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.

Despite the most recent research, Labour sources are optimistic about the party’s prospects. MS Mick Antoniw described it to LabourList as a “rogue” poll and predicted “not a great deal of change in terms of the number of Labour seats”.

At the last Welsh parliament election, the party received 48.3% of the vote and 29 seats; in 2011, it got 30 seats with 50% of the vote; 26 in 2007 with 43.3% of the vote; 30 in 2003 with 50% of the vote; and 28 in 1999 with 46.7% of the vote.

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