UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer defends mentioning Wales once in essay on party vision

Sir Keir Starmer has been criticised for mentioning Wales just once in a 11,500 word essay where he set out his vision for the Labour Party and the UK.

In 'The Road Ahead' the Labour leader also failed to mention the Welsh Government, the only Labour controlled government in the UK for over a decade.

The sole mention of Wales came when he discussed the challenges faced by the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Inspired by the ambition of Wales and New Zealand, and the experiences of the pandemic that kept our minds and bodies healthy, Labour would put wellbeing at the heart of government decision-making."

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts criticised the essay on social media, saying: "Yet again, the Westminster Labour leader shows that his party’s two decades in Welsh government barely registers on his radar."

But the Labour leader defended his essay insisting it had "Welsh fingerprints all over it".

In an interview with ITV Wales, Sir Keir said, "The essay is about the issues that matter most to working people across the whole of the United Kingdom, and they're based actually on my reflections on the visits to places I've been including in Wales, so actually lots of Welsh families have got their fingerprints on that pamphlet.

Sir Keir insisted his essay has "Welsh fingerprints all over it"

"Wales is deeply reflected in the piece because it is people in Wales that influenced my thinking over the course of the it's got Welsh fingerprints all over it."

He was also defended by fellow party member, MS Alun Davies.

He said on social media: "You don’t have to put the word “Wales” into every sentence!

"Surely we can engage in some political dialogue about values and priorities without this constant sense of being the victim?"

Mark Drakeford has been Wales' First Minister and leader of Welsh Labour since 2018.

Welsh Labour has been in power in Wales since the advent of devolution in 1999.

As First Minister Mark Drakeford - who led Welsh Labour to victory in the 2021 Senedd election - is arguably the party's most senior politician in the UK.

In response, a spokesperson for Welsh Labour said: "First Minister Mark Drakeford, along with other leading Labour figures will focus on Labour’s role in Wales, and in power across the UK, in the coming days."

The essay was published by The Fabian Society ahead of Sir Starmer's first in-person conference speech to party members since becoming leader last year, in Brighton next week.

In it he said Labour cannot "wait around for the public to decide we are right" and must instead grasp the opportunities the current political atmosphere provides.

Starmer went on to admit: "The Conservatives are not an easy opponent to pin down - and even less so when Labour has tied its own arms behind its back."

Starmer visited a tech firm in St Asaph, north Wales in May. Credit: PA

His comments come at a time where Labour is gripped in an internal civil war over potential changes Starmer wants to make to leadership rules.

He added: "I want Labour to once again be Britain's bricks and mortar - a symbol of solidity, reliability, shelter and the prospect of building something new and better.

"To do that, our party must have a relentless focus on the challenges and opportunities of the future and how they can be shaped to the interest of working people."

He wrote: "When we win, it is not because the country has come around to our way of thinking but because we have seized the future and moulded it."

In the essay, Starmer sets out 10 principles which he claims would form the basis of a new contract between Labour and the British people.

At its heart is what he has dubbed a "contribution society", where everyone has a part to play.