Four trade unions have made clear that they will fight any attempt to rush through changes to how Welsh Labour elects its leader so that Carwyn Jones' successor is not elected by the electoral college system. In a statement issued by the GMB on behalf of itself and three other unions, the one member, one vote system used to choose Labour's UK leader is condemned as 'wrong'.
The four unions -GMB, Unison, Usdaw and the Communication Workers- say it's extremely disappointing and disrespectful of a Welsh Labour conference decision that some people started trying to 'bounce' the party into changing its voting system less than 48 hours after the conference voted to set up a democracy review, which will not have reported its conclusions until after Carwyn Jones has stood down.
The disregard for the conference decision and the attempted short circuiting of the debate is completely unacceptable to affiliated trade unions in Wales, and we wish to make it clear, that whilst we are prepared to look at the makeup and percentage weighting of the existing electoral college, we are not prepared to allow for certain elements within our movement to take away the voice of organised Labour, via their trade unions, in future leadership and deputy leadership elections.
The four unions accept that the make up and weighting of the existing electoral college needs to be addressed. However, they seem determined to preserve or even increase the weight given to the votes of trade union members -currently one third of the college. Their statement was immediately welcomed by the Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, who's thought likely to enter the contest to succeed Carwyn Jones.
Today’s announcement by a raft of Welsh Labour’s trade union affiliates is a welcome reminder that we are part of a wider labour and trade union movement. This isn’t simply a reflection of the fact that trade unions created the Labour Party it’s a reflection on their role in our future. I’m proud to be a trade union member – a former shop steward and Wales TUC President. However we decide to reform the elections rules for our leader and deputy leader it is essential that we do not remove the voices of trade union members. We should be proud of the role trade unions play in making democratic choices within our party. We should not set out to remove them. The same point applies to the Cooperative Party and socialist societies who share our values and affiliate to our party. I look forward to a debate across our movement as part of the democracy review agreed at conference just a week ago.
Our Political Editor, Adrian Masters, says both statements are significant interventions.
Another widely-rumoured candidate, Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan, chose not to declare her intentions when she invited media to an event in Pembroke Dock. Instead, she announced that she's launched a website aimed at promoting debate 'beyond the bubble' of Cardiff Bay before the contest gets underway. The Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, remains the only declared candidate.