Keir Starmer points to Welsh Labour government as 'blueprint' for UK, at party conference

Sir Keir Starmer described the Welsh Government as providing a “blueprint for what what Labour can do across the UK”.

The Labour party’s UK leader spoke at Welsh Labour’s conference in Llandudno, the first in-person conference for two years but which has been largely dominated by developments in Ukraine.

He told Welsh delegates that he's flown to Llandudno directly from Estonia adding: "I have come here straight from Estonia, where I met our NATO forces, including the Royal Tank Regiment and our Royal Welsh.  

“I was able to thank them first-hand for their work as part of Operation CABRIT. I was able to confirm to them and to senior politicians in Estonia Labour’s unshakeable commitment to NATO."

In an interview with me, the UK Labour leader insisted that there is no difference between him and Mark Drakeford when it comes to calls for further action by the UK Government on providing sanctuary to those fleeing Ukraine.

The Welsh Labour leader has called for the requirement for visas to be dropped altogether, in line with the European Union's approach, something Labour at a UK level has not called for.

It is estimated that around 2.2 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict began. Credit: AP

Keir Starmer told me: "Mark Drakeford and I come from exactly the same place on this, which is to provide a quick, efficient, safe route to sanctuary for people who are fleeing from Ukraine.

"Obviously, we do that in collaboration and cooperation with our partners, but the UK has to play its part and Mark Drakeford and I are beyond frustrated with the inadequate response of the Home Office in the government they narrow too slow and put hurdles in the way people just need to access that security and that state as quickly as possible."

Within Labour there has sometimes been a tense relationship between the UK party and the party in Wales. Since becoming leader, Keir Starmer has tried to reset that relationship.

In his speech today he said: "A Welsh Labour government is the living proof of what Labour in power looks like, how things can be done differently and better. You demonstrate daily the difference Labour really makes. A blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK."My plan is to deliver a UK Labour government that can match that. Imagine what we could do if we had this Welsh Government working together with a Labour Government in Westminster – what a change we could make. And what a difference we could bring to millions of lives."That isn’t a pipe dream: That it is our mission. We are not just on the road to the locals this May, we are on the road to the next General Election. Whether it’s next year or the year after, the General Election approaches, it is our chance to replicate what we see in Wales right across the UK."

The Welsh Conservatives say that Keir Starmer is mistaken in looking to Welsh Labour for inspiration.

A spokesperson said: "If Sir Keir's blueprint for the UK is to copy Labour in Wales then I think many people will be worried.

"Ever growing waiting lists that doubled before the pandemic hit. A&E and ambulance response times that leave the most vulnerable waiting for hours on end. And economic policies that keep holding people back.

"Wales has had the worst growth in wages, with Welsh workers earning on average £60 a week less compared to Scottish workers - when they were the same back in 1999.

"It's clear, vote Sir Keir and Labour to get a pay cut.

"Labour in Wales is anti-aspiration, anti-jobs and anti-opportunity."