Welsh Labour local election campaign launch

Carwyn Jones meeting voters during the local election campaign
Carwyn Jones on the campaign trail Photo: Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour is promising many things for its campaign event in Newport today.

It's promising an upbeat event from a party showing all the signs of having left some of its darkest days behind it. It's promising the First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain. It's promising candidates, campaigners and 'endorsers.'

What it's emphatically not promising is a national manifesto.

That's because at the outset of this year's local elections, party strategists made it clear that there would be campaigns not a Campaign and manifestos not a Manifesto.

Carwyn Jones is expected to tell those attending the event that there'll be:

No blanket promises from Labour councils about the choices we will make in power, because we know that the right answer for a community in Ringland (in Newport) isn’t necessarily the right answer for a family in Wrexham.

And the party says it's put that principle into action by making it possible for numerous local Labour groups to formulate and co-ordinate their own campaigns and their own pledges tailored to local needs.

That's a major step forward for Welsh Labour which has often been criticised for its top-down, top-heavy approach and marks the culmination of a concerted effort to change the way the party works in that respect in an attempt to stem what seemed inexorable decline in Wales. This election marks the first big test of that new approach.

However, what's also clear is that Labour benefited in last year's Welsh election from a voter backlash against the Conservative-Liberal Democrat UK coalition government and it is making sure that remains a significant factor this time.

Carwyn Jones will also tell activists later that, 'only a vote for Labour will send a message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg' and Peter Hain is expected to say that,

People feel angry and betrayed by the savage, reckless cuts to services and family incomes being imposed by the Tory / Lib Dem UK Government. They are also angry at the appalling way that the Tories, Libs and Plaid - often working in cahoots - have run local services into the ground in the Councils they control.

It's not the most positive of messages, but it's one that worked wonders for Labour in Wales last year and will almost certainly work again.

Party sources know that the odds are in their favour. Privately they're admitting they expect to 'have a good night' on May 3rd and that councils such as Newport, Torfaen, Merthyr and Swansea are within their grasp.

But they also know the party's coming back from one of their worst-ever results four years ago.

As one source put it, even if Labour doubles its number of seats in Cardiff, outright control of the capital could still remain elusive.

Labour's campaign event takes place at Newport's new University campus later this morning.