Labour leader Keir Starmer and Mark Drakeford promise close working will win power in Westminster

Sir Keir Starmer has told delegates that his party is ready to win a general election and that they're "hand-in-hand with Welsh Labour.” Credit: PA Images

The two men leading Labour both say the secret to success for the party at a UK level lies in following the example of Welsh Labour. 

Mark Drakeford is expected to tell members at their annual conference in Liverpool that he and his colleagues in Wales "are able to show what a Labour Government can do."

At the same time, Sir Keir Starmer told delegates that “we're ready to win a general election, and we're ready arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand with Welsh Labour.”

The Welsh Labour leader will be among the speakers at the conference today. 

In his speech he's expected to say that "in Wales we have had the opportunity, we are able to show what a Labour Government can do.

"In this Senedd term we won’t be restarting fracking, because we never allowed it in the first place.

"We are paying all our social care workers the real living-wage.

 "And we’ll provide universal free school meals for every child in our primary schools.”

Speaking to Welsh party members at a conference reception, the UK party leader said he looked to Welsh Labour as an example of how the party can act in power.

“People often ask us, what difference a Labour government may have [and] my answer is always the same: look at what Mark Drakeford and his team are doing in Wales, changing the lives of people in Wales for the better."

Labour Party leaders have said this sort of thing at conferences over the years and it can be easy to ignore the warm words as empty platitudes.

However, I do detect a difference this year. 

For one thing, Keir Starmer has generally been putting his money where his mouth is and referring to, and sometimes deferring to, Mark Drakeford as the only Labour leader running a government in the UK.

He's paid repeated visits to Wales and I understand has regular conversations with the First Minister, something replicated by other shadow cabinet members.

There are also strong informal connections between the Westminster team and Labour MPs and MSs in a way that there hasn't always been over the years.

Keir Starmer and Mark Drakeford clearly have a good working relationship which may come as a surprise. After all the First Minister was an early and vocal supporter of the previous leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

He's also a republican who's said there needs to be a debate about aspects of Royal involvement in Wales.

Meanwhile Keir Starmer has courted controversy by pushing the party's patriotism and introducing the singing of God Save the King at conference.

Keir Starmer leads tributes to the Queen as the national anthem is sung during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool Credit: PA Images

But both men are also pragmatists.

Before Mark Drakeford was a politician, he advised the late First Minister Rhodri Morgan and is credited with coining "Clear Red Water" as a phrase to emphasise policy differences between Morgan and Tony Blair. 

That pragmatism is clearly helping smooth relations between the two parts of Labour in the present day. There is a risk for Keir Starmer, though, in aligning himself with Welsh Labour and Mark Drakeford. 

Other parties have seized on Labour's record in Wales - particularly on the NHS but also when it comes to low wages and uneven education standards - to treat the close links as a warning to voters elsewhere in the UK.

All this matters because in political terms, time is running out. 

There'll be a UK General Election within the next two years and Labour is now facing a changed political landscape. A new Prime Minister is showing a determination to act radically

The polls are in Labour's favour right now but while Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's radical tax cuts are a gamble, the gamble could pay off. 

Labour needs to keep hold of the support it's gained in recent months and Welsh Labour, with an election victory just over a year old, has a central part to play in that task.