Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles quizzed on past mistakes, karaoke songs and their political idols

Credit: Sharp End

The race is on to be Welsh Labour leader and the next First Minister.

Voting has opened and while the majority of us don't have a say, it will have an impact on us all.

Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles have both held senior cabinet positions, both are former solicitors and both believe they're the man with a plan for the future. But is there any substance behind the promises? Sharp End Presenter Rob Osborne quizzed them both.

Both candidates were solicitors before entering politics. Credit: Sharp End

What are the candidates' missions for Wales?

Vaughan Gething: "My mission is to have a country that’s at ease with itself - a modern, confident Wales, one where we have an economy that creates good jobs and good opportunities."

Jeremy Miles: "Economic prosperity is what we need to see in Wales, sustainable economic growth, which will create those employment opportunities that are high skilled, and high paid."

Both of their manifestos focus heavily on the NHS - with lots of spending pledges. So where's the money coming from?

Vaughan Gething: "Some of what we want to do, does mean we’ll need more resources because I think for the sort of NHS we all want we need resources, we need reform, recruitment and retention.

"We don’t get a different view on a future of resources without a change of the UK government. After 14 years of austerity, all of our choices get more and more difficult.

"When Tony Blair was elected as Prime Minister in 1997 it took a couple of years before there was significant and sustained investment in the economy and public services. I think the next Labour government will have an equally troublesome financial inheritance and it will take a medium term before we get to the sustained resources."

Jeremy Miles: "Our NHS needs more funding, as do all of our public services. But we also need to support the NHS to adapt to face the challenges it faces today and into the future and there are a number of ways we need to do that.

"Firstly, we have to translate the broad priorities we have for the NHS into a set of actionable priorities for the local health boards to make sure the targets that we have are delivering the outcomes that we want which are the critical things and greater accountability within the health service.

"What we’ve seen in the last two rounds of budget reallocations is funding moving towards the NHS because of the pressure that it’s under and is necessary given those pressures. I think the entire public sector needs more funding, we are giving it as much funding as we can with the budgets that we have. We do need better budgets, that requires a Labour government in Westminster."

Favourite Labour Prime Minister - bar Clement Attlee?

Which former Labour PM is favoured by the Wales leadership candidates? Credit: PA

Jeremy Miles: Harold Wilson

Vaughan Gething: Tony Blair

Karaoke song of choice?

Jeremy Miles: Wind of Change, by Scorpions

Vaughan Gething: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding

Oxford graduate Jeremy Miles lives in Neath and enjoys films, reading, cooking, hiking, cycling, and following rugby. Credit: Sharp End

How has each fared in their current Welsh Government responsibilities?

While Jeremy Miles has been Education Minister, there has been a teacher recruitment and retention crisis, the school timetable has been reformed and performance in the PISA rankings have slipped back.

He said: "Those aren’t a fair reflection of what we’re doing. Teacher recruitment is a challenge in all countries and actually our performance in Wales is better in some sectors of education than it is in other parts of the UK. I have a specific programme to recruit teachers and incentivise people into teaching and in my manifesto I’m promising to expand the routes into teaching.

"The PISA results were disappointing. When I became minister I set out a plan to improve literacy and numeracy in schools - in education these plans take some years to bare fruit and I’m absolutely confident that by the time we see the next set of PISA results, they’ll be on the up as they were in 2018."

Since Vaughan Gething has been Economy Minister, apprenticeship budgets have been slashed.

"The apprenticeship budget is directly affected by what the Tories have done," he said.

"We now have significantly less money for apprenticeships because the Tories chose to keep the power and the money in Westminster when we left Europe. That has meant a deliberate design that prevents us from putting money into apprenticeships."

Zambia-born Vaughan Gething was educated at Cardiff and Aberystwyth and was previously a partner at law firm Thompsons.

Past 'errors' of judgement?

Vaughan Gething previously walked away from an interview with an ITV Wales journalist on camera, and was caught swearing about one of his colleagues.

And at the time when the Welsh Government was spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money buying a farm for a music festival, Jeremy Miles socialised with the boss of that music festival.

What do these episodes say about their judgements?

Vaughan Gething: "I think it tells you that I’m a real human being.

"I learned an awful lot from the interview incident quite a few years ago now, and it’s understanding that if you feel under pressure you can’t react in a way that reflects poorly on you and makes the situation worse.

"It’s that experience of having to do some of those difficult things and still to come back and be better as well."

Jeremy Miles: "It says that I’m not in any way connected with the set of decisions the government was making in relation to that.

"As Education Minister, people will not at all be surprised to hear that I had no role whatsoever in agricultural policy or economic policy or the buying of the farm."

A Liberal politician popular among Britain's working class and South Africa's first Black president, known for his anti-apartheid efforts. Credit: PA

Political hero, not linked to the Labour Party?

Jeremy Miles: William Gladstone

Vaughan Gething: Nelson Mandela

Last book you read?

Jeremy Miles: Norman Fowler’s diaries (the health minister under Margaret Thatcher)

Vaughan Gething: Harry Potter, adding, “I like doing Hagrid's accent when I read it with my son”.

  • To watch the full interview with the leadership candidates, and hear their views on raising income tax, the future of the Plaid Cymru Co-op agreement and more on the latest episode of Sharp End, click here.