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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Labour trail?
Christine Macleod
The Politics Show Scotland

Tony Blair
The Prime Minister: Help or hindrance?

With only six weeks to go until the Scottish elections, Labour has been trailing behind the SNP in the polls.

A scenario you would not get in Wales. Why? Have they a secret weapon that Scottish Labour do not?

The Politics Show in Scotland goes to Cardiff and asks whether Scottish Labour have anything to learn from Welsh Labour.

Political commentators there are quick to flag up the dominant position that Wales' First Minister occupies on the political landscape.

Patrick Hannan says that not only is Rhodri Morgan a big man, but he cannot be ignored on the streets or when he is talking.

"There's been polling evidence suggesting that something like 47% of the people know who he is and about 5% know who the rest are."

He has also managed to create a Welsh Labour Party that is distinct from Blair's New Labour by putting - in Mr. Morgan's own words - "clear red water" between them. But how has he done this and why?

He has done this in a number of ways, one of which has been to avoid New Labour policies like Foundation Hospitals.

Instead he is seen to have been appealing to the traditional members of his party, by doing things like abolishing prescription charges.

Patrick Hannan says this has been a clever move by Mr. Morgan, as many of his party are from the traditionalist camp: "Not only has it cheered people up, but this move makes a direct reference to Nye Bevan, the Welsh politician who founded the NHS and who resigned over the question of prescription charges.

So it's an appeal down the years to the traditionalist supporters of Labour in Wales and it does contrast with the approach in England."

Rhodri Morgan says it was important to him to carve out a separate identity for the party in Wales, because the values there are different.

"In Wales our values are much more community based. It was important that we made it clear that Welsh Labour has values that are not the same as what you would call classic New Labour.

"We tend to refer to our values as classic Labour, as that suits the circumstances of Wales."

He goes on to give a glimpse of how his brand of Labour translates in practice.

Only last week he explains, he opened a 16m orthopaedic surgery in southeast Wales, aimed at cutting waiting lists.

But where Labour in England allow treatment centres like this to be bankrolled privately, he did it through the NHS.

Another way, in which Mr. Morgan has distanced his party from London Labour is by being vocal about his view of the Prime Minister.

Patrick Hannan: "Rhodri Morgan has been luke warm about some aspects of Blairism and he did say that it would be quite a good thing from the point of view of the Labour Party in Wales, if Tony Blair were to retire before the May elections because it might give the Labour Party here a boost."

So Labour in Wales have an outspoken, high profile leader who has carved out a very distinctive identity for their party. Could this then be partly why the party there have not been overtaken by their nationalists the way Labour have been in Scotland?

John Curtice is an electoral expert at Strathclyde University in Scotland.

He says that while the scenario in Wales is that Labour have managed to get themselves a charismatic and dominant leader and Plaid have not, the reverse is true in Scotland.

"We have Alex Salmond who clearly is charismatic, is clearly widely known, and according to the opinion polls he's twice as popular as Jack McConnell, if you were to ask people who they want to be First Minister."

"Meanwhile, the First Minister Jack McConnell has been notable for the fact he's had low profile since Christmas, and is not the person the Labour Party have been wheeling out to face Alex Salmond on the big media occasions.

"It's perhaps one of the reasons why the Labour Party has so far found it difficult to pull itself ahead of the SNP up here."

But which of the very different approaches adopted by Labour in Wales and Labour in Scotland is the most effective?

The answer will be revealed at the ballot box in 42 days time.

You can e-mail your comments on the e-mail form below ...

The Politics Show will be off the air after this week but will return on Sunday 15 April 2007... A happy Easter to you all...

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