Labour backs more autonomy for Welsh party

Carwyn Jones now controls of a seat on Labour's National Executive, which is crucial to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Welsh Labour has won its battle to become a more autonomous party, able to make its own rules about how it chooses its leader and selects its candidates, including those standing to become MPs. The amendments to the Labour constitution secured 80% of the votes cast at the party conference in Liverpool.

First Minister Carwyn Jones will, as Welsh Labour leader, also now play a part in deciding what goes into the party's Westminster election manifesto. He also gains the right to nominate a member of Labour's National Executive.

This last point nearly scuppered the whole deal as the contest for seats on Labour's ruling body is now almost entirely seen in terms of whether the new member will support or oppose Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Mr Jones has kept his distance from Mr Corbyn, who played a minimal part in the Welsh Assembly election, although the First Minister remained neutral in the contest between the Labour leader and the Pontypridd MP Owen Smith.

The package of reforms passed today is a significant step forward – not just for Welsh Labour – but the whole Labour movement in the UK. Our party structures need to keep pace with devolution, and Wales needs a strong voice at the heart of the party too. Welsh Labour is proud to part of the wider UK Labour family, but that must always be a relationship built on mutual respect. I’d like to thank the very many people from all over the UK who pushed for these changes, and made today’s progress possible.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Mr Jones told the National Executive yesterday that the changes, which mirror the new status being given to the Scottish party, will make it harder for Plaid Cymru to convincingly claim that Labour's operation in Wales is just a "branch office" of a London-based organisation. It's understand that he will take part in the first meeting of the enlarged body this evening. But as he's in Cardiff, he will join the meeting in Liverpool by conference call.