Four Labour AMs have publicly backed Vaughan Gething to take over from Carwyn Jones. It means the Health Secretary is just one name short of the nominations needed to stand.
Hefin David, Lynne Neagle, Joyce Watson and Vikki Howells published an open letter backing Gething for leader.
In their letter they say enough time has passed since Carwyn Jones announced his decision to step down for ‘the Labour family [to have] taken time to reflect upon the contribution that he has made.’
They say that while they agree with calls for a wide-ranging debate about Welsh Labour’s future direction, they believe that debste should take place with declared candidates.
They also write: ‘It is our belief that the months ahead should involve a broad discussion of ideas – but with declared candidates to set them out.’ That’s a direct response to colleagues within the Labour group who’ve urged patience, calling for a debate first and for declarations after the summer.
The AMs explain why they think the Health Secretary is best suited to become their next leader and First Minister. ‘We need our next leader to have experience of Government, an understanding of our unique Welsh Labour history and to be ready and able to renew our Party whilst in power’ they write.
‘Welsh Labour will only succeed if it reflects the wonderfully diverse Wales of today. Our next leader must embody the optimism that we need for the future. They must be ready to represent all our communities, recognising that a changing Wales is an opportunity, not a threat.’
And they say that the next leader should be someone who can ‘galvanise our movement - members, Trade Unionists, the Cooperative Party and affiliates – to create the campaigns and momentum to win at the ballot box. Out of power we can help no one.’
They conclude that ‘It is our opinion that of the many capable potential candidates for the role, one stands out clearly as best placed to achieve this.’
‘We are therefore supporting Vaughan Gething to be our next Welsh Labour leader and First Minister.’
There’s a clear hope from the four AMs that their move will end the stalemate in which the Welsh Labour leadership campaign has been since Mark Drakeford became the first to declare.
Although it leaves Vaughan Gething one name short of the nominations needed it removes any doubt that he may not be a candidate.
There are rumours that he may be close to winning the support of one AM who had been considering standing themselves which would take him over the threshold.
Vaughan Gething himself was staying tight-lipped at yesterday’s gathering of the Wales TUC in Llandudno but it does look as though the campaign might be about to take clearer shape.