Mark Drakeford insists he is 'up to the job' as Welsh Labour launch election campaign

Watch the video report by ITV Wales Political Correspondent Owain Phillips

The First Minister has said he is "absolutely committed" to being the next leader in Wales insisting his government needs to "complete the job" of leading the country through the pandemic.

In an interview with ITV Wales, Mark Drakeford said this May's election will be fought while the "pandemic is still with us" and admitted the job has been a "tough" one.

On the day he launched his party's election campaign with a pledge of a job, a college or university place, training or self-employment for every person under 25, Mr Drakeford said he wants the time to put his party's "radical agendas" into practice once the pandemic is over.

"I think our ambitions will appeal to a very wide set of people in Wales, however people think the crisis has been handled", he said.

Mark Drakeford launched his party's campaign on Thursday morning

"I set out to be the leader of the Labour Party with a radical agenda for things I wanted to see happen here in Wales. That agenda has had to be set to one side while we've dealt with the crisis. I am absolutely committed to being the First Minister to lead Wales forward and to put radical ideas into practice."

On the challenges that the last 12 months have brought in his role, Mr Drakeford admitted is has been a "tough job", and said if elected for the next term, he will step aside for the following election.

He said, "I will be there if Labour is elected to lead the new government, to set us on this radical ambitious journey with a group of people who you can trust in government. And then, the time will come beyond the next term for somebody else to take my party into that election."

The party has made a pledge of a job, a college or university place, training or self-employment for every person under 25. Credit: PA

During his campaign launch, Mark Drakeford said the Young Person's Guarantee would include 125,000 new apprenticeships across Wales.

It is one of six pledges being made by the party as it launches its election campaign with the hope of winning an overall majority in the Senedd for the first time since devolution in 1999.

Welsh Labour has 29 of 60 seats in the Senedd and has formed an administration with the support of the sole Liberal Democrat MS Kirsty Williams, who is education minister, and independent MS Dafydd Elis-Thomas, as deputy culture minister.

It will also be the first election in which 16 and 17-year-olds and legally resident foreign nationals will be allowed to vote in Wales.

Mark Drakeford launched Welsh Labour's election campaign with a pledge for young people Credit: PA

Following the launch, Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS claimed Labour have "run out of ideas."

“The pandemic has exposed what 22 years of Labour Government has done to Wales and it’s clear they’ve run out of ideas.

“Labour broke the majority of their 2016 election promises to the people of Wales and there’s no reason to believe this time will be any different. 

“They’ve failed to deliver the M4 relief road, A55 upgrade, metro systems and better paid jobs for our people. In short, when Labour make a promise to the people of Wales they inevitably break it.

“Our communities can’t afford another five years of same old Labour. Only the Welsh Conservatives will deliver change and build a better Wales, with more jobs, better hospitals and first class schools.”

The Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru responded to the Labour party election launch Credit: PA

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health Rhun ap Iorwerth said, “Much like their hapless campaign launch, Labour’s twenty years in power has been marred by delays, failures and a policy of demanding patience whilst they manage problems rather than solve them.

“Labour have had two decades to deliver fair wages for health and care staff and a plan for the future of the Welsh NHS. It is only now when they need the support of the Welsh people that they stumble into action.

“Labour are incapable of devising their own policies let alone delivering them. It’s been almost a year since Plaid Cymru affirmed our commitment to a minimum wage of £10 to care workers and have demanded a medical school for the north of Wales for the past six years.

“The choice facing the people of Wales in May is between another Labour health policy promise or Plaid with health policy delivered.” 

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