What's next for Vaughan Gething after winning leadership race to become Wales' next first minister

  • ITV Wales' Gwennan Campbell reports from Treorchy.

Welsh Labour's new leader Vaughan Gething is preparing to become First Minister on Wednesday.

Labour members chose Mr Gething, 50, to be their next party leader, succeeding Mark Drakeford, who has held the position since 2018.

His victory means he is set to become the first Black leader of any nation in Europe.

Welsh Labour said Vaughan Gething achieved 51.7% of the vote compared to rival Jeremy Miles with 48.3%.

But there are many challenges facing the next first minister: stubbornly high hospital waiting times, struggling educational standards, continued criticism over the 20mph policy, anger from farmers and ongoing scrutiny of his role during the covid pandemic.

Vaughan Gething, at Cardiff University, after being elected as the next Welsh Labour leader. Credit: PA Images

So what is at the top of his list to tackle?

  • First steps

Mr Gething will appoint his cabinet in the coming days.

Much was spoken about healing wounds and divisions in the course of Saturday's announcement and the many interviews he’s done since.

Who he appoints and how he brings his party together will be an early sign of how successful he will be at achieving that.

Plaid Cymru - still officially in a cooperation agreement with the government that Mr Gething is about to run has been immediately critical after questions were raised over donations to his campaign.

Its leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, said: “It is a matter of deep concern that we now have an incoming First Minister who before even taking up the highest public office is facing serious allegations and questions about his judgement.

“At the very least, Vaughan Gething should surely return the £200,000 campaign donation which has rightly drawn so much criticism from within his own party and beyond.”

Labour holds just 30 of the 60 Senedd seats, so without Plaid, Mr Gething will face some serious challenges.

  • NHS

The NHS makes up more than half the Welsh government's budget and is facing big problems, including high hospital waiting times and junior doctors taking industrial action over pay and conditions.

Despite acknowledging that more funding is needed, Mr Gething has not committed to increasing doctors pay.

  • Farming

Mr Gething promised to “listen to the public” on many of the more controversial policies that have arisen in the Welsh government, including farming subsidies.

He said he understood why farming communities are anxious, with there being less money available since the UK left the EU.

“We’ve got to design a scheme together,” he said.

“And the consultation has just ended, so we need to look at what’s come from that and then to see what we can do together.”

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  • 20mph

On 20mph, Mr Gething pledged reviews of the policy introduced by the Welsh Government in September last year.

The lowering of the default speed limit, which the Welsh Government says was largely for safety reasons, has divided public opinion.

However, Mr Gething stuck by the policy and said he would think about its implementation.

The former economy minister had said he would not be scrapping the policy but would "listen to the public".

  • Donations

Mr Gething previously defended taking £200,000 in donations from a company whose director was convicted of environmental offences.

He had received donations from Dauson Environmental Group whose director David Neal was given a suspended prison sentence in 2013 for illegally dumping waste on a conservation site on the Gwent Levels.

In a BBC debate last month, Mr Gething was asked about the donation. He was asked if Mr Neal was an "appropriate person" to receive donations from.

To which Mr Gething had responded: "All donations are checked and then filed properly with the Electoral Commission and indeed declared to the Senedd.

"The issue in Pembrokeshire is one that I understand is being resolved in accordance with NRW guidance and requirements and will be dealt with in the coming weeks."

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