Labour Party Conference: How Welsh Labour could help or hinder Keir Starmer's bid for power

Labour's conference in Liverpool comes at a crucial time for the party.

With fewer than two years until the next UK General Election (and possibly less) the political landscape has just changed.

A new Prime Minister has taken charge and shown a determination to do things differently, a threat and an opportunity to the Labour party at a UK level.

The job of its leader Keir Starmer and his front bench team is to prove that they can provide an alternative government in Westminster.

Welsh Labour has a role to play in that UK-wide effort. Along with London mayor Sadiq Khan, Mark Drakeford is the most senior elected Labour politician in Britain.

Credit: PA

However that fact hasn't always meant that his colleagues in Westminster have paid much attention to him or the way that Labour has operated in Wales.

Keir Starmer has certainly shown an increased willingness to defer to and refer to Mark Drakeford at least over the last few years.

The Welsh Labour leader's job, then, when he speaks here at the conference tomorrow (Monday) will be to set out actions taken in Wales that can show a way forward to the party in the rest of the UK.

That task will be complicated by Labour's arrangement with Plaid Cymru to deliver large parts of Welsh Government policy in partnership.

The party at a UK level is anxious about any kind of cooperation with nationalists because of the problems it faces in Scotland. Labour-Plaid partnership working may be played down here in Liverpool.

Holding up Welsh Labour as a model has other downsides too. Welsh workers earn the lowest average wages of any part of the UK and there are serious questions about performance in the health service and education standards in recent years.

There'll be differences of emphasis too. Mark Drakeford is a republican leading a republican-minded government whereas Keir Starmer is pushing his party's (UK) patriotism.

Differences aside, they know their fates are intertwined. It puts Wales and Welsh Labour at the centre of debate here in Liverpool.