Advertisement

What we learned from the politicians hoping to become next First Minister

Credit: ITV Wales

It's something to file under 'things I never expected to hear from a politician.'

One revealed that somebody once confessed to murder to him, another spoke of a childhood kidney disease which nearly killed him and the third of a teenage experience coffee-picking with Sandanistas in Nicaragua.

These were the eye-opening revelations from the three people who want to take over from Carwyn Jones and become First Minister when he steps down in December.

First though Eluned Morgan, Vaughan Gething and Mark Drakeford have to win the votes of members of the Labour party and its affiliated organisations and so they're contesting a leadership election which may feel like it's been going on forever but in fact has only just formally begun.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

They're debating each other at hustings meetings across Wales but, for the first time in a TV studio they came together for a special edition of Sharp End.

There were clear differences between the three on several of the biggest issues so there were sharp exchanges over future use of nuclear power, the need for a new Brexit referendum and a relief road for the M4 around Newport.

Differences too when it comes to their leadership credentials and whether or not experience is more important than change. And some tense exchanges over who's best placed to heal wounds in the Labour group which is still coming to terms with the death of the former minister Carl Sargeant.

Where they seemed to agree was on the likelihood of taxes increasing, not in the short term and certainly not before the next Assembly election in 2021. After that though, they all left open the option of putting them up to pay for improvements in social care.

What of those intriguing revelations about their own personal backgrounds? They were each answering my request to 'tell us something about you that people don't know.'

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford was first.

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford made some revelations about his time as a probation officer Credit: ITV Wales

Answering the first question, Mark Drakeford revealed a shocking revelation about his time as a Probation Officer.

''I first came to Cardiff as a probation officer and I hadn't been here for long when somebody contacted me to say that they had committed a murder,'' he said.

On Brexit Drakeford fell in line with Labour policy and Corbyn's six tests a deal must satisfy in order to get their backing.

''The first thing that should happen, as Jeremy Corbyn said, Theresa May should negotiate a form of Brexit that meets Labour's six tests. If she can do that, Labour will support her and if she can't a general election aught to be the answer. If we can't have an election, if that is denied, then I agree there should be a referendum. ''

Speaking about whether he will uphold Carwyn Jones' decision on an M4 relief road, Drakeford said he'd be open to looking at the decision again.

''Whether the answer is a three lane motorway or not depends on what the inspector will say in the independent report which I haven't seen and I don't think any of my colleagues have seen. None of us know if the inspector is going to recommend whether the road should go ahead or not. I'll be looking at the cost of this proposal. I will look at the evidence, weigh it up and come to a conclusion''

Vaughan Gething

Vaughan Gething talked about his experience with kidney disease Credit: ITV Wales

Vaughan Gething began by opening up about his experience of suffering with kidney disease.

''I started my studies at Aberystwyth University but had to leave because I had a serious kidney disease. I had Nephrotic Syndrome so at 19 I had to have fairly serious treatment and could've faced dialysis and potential transplant but the NHS saved me.''

Moving on to calls for another referendum on Brexit, Gething backed the campaign.

''I think we should recognise reality and be more supportive of the campaign for a people's vote. We had a vote on an idea, we should have a vote on a plan and I think that must mean a people's vote. There's no way that this divided parliament can set out a longterm future with Europe.''

Speaking about plans for an M4 relief road, Gething said any decision on would effect the whole of Wales.

''Doing nothing is not an option on the M4 in my view. I don't think it's a local problem, I think it's a decision of strategic importance for the economy in the Valleys, in south east Wales, central and west Wales.''

Eluned Morgan

Eluned Morgan spent time coffee picking in Central America Credit: ITV Wales

Eluned Morgan revealed how time in Central America shaped her view of the world.

''In the 1980's I travelled to Nicaragua to pick coffee. So I was earning a penny an hour and this was the first example in the world where a right-wing dictator had been kicked out and there was a democratic election and the socialists won power so I went there to them to develop socialism in Central America. It definitely internationalised my view of the world.''

Morgan said she was a passionate supporter of the European Union and backed a people's vote.

''I think what we do need to think about very seriously now is a people's vote to put that vote back to the people. They were told something in the referendum, they're being offered something very different and the only alternative at the end will be to ask the people again are they satisfied with what's been negotiated.''

Asked about her opinion on the M4 relief road, Morgan said alternatives should be considered.

''We need to focus on the metro, that's the most important thing. I think there is an issue with congestion in the area. I think if it does get developed I would want to see tolls on the M4. I don't think we should focus our whole energy on developing south Wales at the expense of the rest of Wales.''

Watch the full Sharp End Welsh Labour leadership special here.