1. ITV Report

Welsh Labour executive rejects one member, one vote

Carwyn Jones' successor will not be chosen by the one member, one vote system that elected Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader Photo: PA
  • by Nick Powell

Welsh Labour has drawn up the rules for choosing Carwyn Jones' successor as party leader in Wales. That doesn't mean the First Minister's retirement is imminent but is partly because it's thought best to settle these matters before they're seen as affecting the chances of different candidates.

The issue has also been given added urgency by proposals to elect a deputy leader next year, as well as pressure from the left of the party to move to the one member, one vote system that has twice elected Jeremy Corbyn as UK leader.

Many MPs think it was a mistake at UK level to move away from an electoral college that restricted the members to one third of the total vote, with the other two thirds split equally between members of affiliated bodies (mostly trade unions) and MPs.

The old system (with AMs included as well as Welsh MPs) is still in the party rulebook for choosing the leader in Wales and today the Welsh executive decided to keep it that way.

I am pleased that the Welsh Executive Committee has decided today, by a clear margin, to retain the system that has worked so well for Welsh Labour since the advent of devolution.

It is right and proper that those people who do so much to ensure Welsh Labour wins at the ballot box and delivers in government should all have their say on future Leaders and Deputy Leaders of our Party. It is also right that we in Welsh Labour make decisions here in Wales that work best for Wales.

– First Minister and Welsh Labour Leader Carwyn Jones AM

In fact, the system has been used just once since the advent of devolution -to elect Carwyn Jones in 2009. His predecessor, Rhodri Morgan was elected unopposed but only after two bitter contests before the Assembly was established, when the electoral college was seen as enabling the party machine to block his election.

It's a point that was made by supporters of one member, one vote during Welsh Labour's consultation on whether to change the rules.

Following the fallout from that leadership election, Labour lost three of its historically strongest Welsh seats in Llanelli, Rhondda and Islwyn and our vote dropped in other seats that Labour had held since 1931. I would urge anyone who is tempted by the prospect of an electoral college to read Rhodri’s autobiography.

As we are all aware, the Westminster party leader was elected by simple one member, one vote – also used in 2015 by Scottish Labour, which is using the same system in its current contest.

It is also worth noting that Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, the Tories and UKIP all elect their leaders via OMOV; it would be strange if the only major party in Wales not to do so were Labour.

– Mike Hedges, AM for Swansea East, writing on the Labour List website

Carwyn Jones' departure may still be a few years away but today's decision means that the electoral college will be used next year to fill the new post of deputy leader. Unlike the leader, who must be an AM, the deputy could also be an MP or council leader. But the party must elect a woman -for as long as the leader is a man.