Make Wales 'second chance nation' urges Labour AM

Jeremy Miles urges Welsh Labour to embrace new technology

Wales should become 'the nation of the second chance' by focussing on lifelong learning and embracing technology like artificial intelligence, according to a Labour AM.

Jeremy Miles' comments will be seen as an attempt to inject discussion of new ideas into his party's debate about its future purpose under a new leader.

It's thought Carwyn Jones will step down from Welsh Labour's top job before the next Assembly election and could go sooner if he's criticised in a series of inquiries following the death of the late minister Carl Sargeant.

Labour insiders say front runners are already positioning themselves for a contest.

I understand that Jeremy Miles, who's a cabinet member as Counsel General, isn't putting his name forward at this stage although I also understand that he has some support to do so.

But his article posted on the Fabian Society website, which is written in a personal capacity, is a clear attempt to kickstart debate about Welsh Labour's future direction under a successor to Carwyn Jones. You can read the full article here.

In it he praises the First Minister for steering Wales through 'testing times' and predicts that 'whoever succeeds him as First Minister in due course will take on the leadership of Wales at a time which is uniquely difficult since devolution.'

He urges Labour colleagues not to 'deify' past heroes like Aneurin Bevan, but instead to learn from the way he challenged the status quo of the day.

But one of our heroes of radicalism, Aneurin Bevan has become little more than a heritage brand to many. Deified, revered, approached in awe. And yet this doesn’t do him justice. He was angry, uncomfortable, inconvenient, as well as a pragmatist.

Bevan’s legacy matters, particularly for those of us who are democratic socialists, because it can give us clarity in a Wales muddied by Brexit. But as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS this year, this shouldn’t be a commemoration, but a challenge to recapture our own anger, and to bring about the change that Bevan the bloody-minded radical would seek.

– Jeremy Miles AM

The Neath AM sets out the the sort of change he thinks Welsh Labour should embrace, becoming 'the nation of the second chance' by standing ready to offer new chances to those who face losing their jobs in the future.

That means, he writes, pledging 'a universal right to lifelong learning [which] would give every citizen the chance to re-boot their career in adult life.'

He warns that 'seeing technology just as a threat would be to miss an enormous opportunity to improve services and to make sure they don't become the preserve of the few in an age of austerity.'

Whether it’s smart transport rather than more road-building or cutting edge CareTech freeing up our exhausted carers and supporting a growing cohort of older citizens, artificial intelligence and technological innovation can allow us to do not just the things we do today better, but to be more ambitious about what we do tomorrow, in a way which is fairer and cheaper, in the long run.

And as income from work becomes more uncertain, it will be incumbent on the state to do all it can to drive down the cost of basics.

– Jeremy Miles AM