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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Ex-minister says Labour 'unfit'
By Adrian Masters
BBC Wales political reporter

Wales Labour manifesto launch
The Welsh Labour party could be setting up its own think-tank
An ex-assembly minister has published a pamphlet saying the Welsh Labour party is "unfit for purpose" and needs to be radically overhauled.

Merthyr AM Huw Lewis made the call in the first publication from Wales 20:20, a new group within Labour set up to start debate about its future.

But Newport West MP Paul Flynn dismissed his analysis as "cobblers".

Welsh Labour leaders have not commented but it is thought an official party review think-tank is being set up.

Wales 20:20 said Scottish Labour had begun an extensive debate about its future but feared that there was no similar effort in Wales.

Huw Lewis
The lack of discourse on this subject since May has been shocking
Huw Lewis AM, on the response to the assembly election result

Labour remained the biggest party after the assembly election, with 26 of 60 seats, but was forced to go into coalition with Plaid.

Mr Lewis, a critic of the Labour-Plaid deal who lost his deputy minister's job after the deal, said Labour was not facing up to the changes needed.

He writes: "The lack of discourse on this subject since May has been shocking."

Mr Lewis said Labour must "react to the 2007 result as if it were a heavy defeat" or it risked "sleepwalking" to an even worse defeat in 2011.

'Counsel of despair'

"I contend that the only way to do that will require the remaking of Welsh Labour from top to bottom, as presently organised it is simply not fit for the purpose of winning assembly elections," he wrote.

He rejected claims that Labour could never again expect to win a majority of seats in Wales as a "counsel of despair" but said changes were needed, including organisation, staffing levels, and a greater role for MPs and unions.

Paul Flynn MP
If that election was re-run today Labour would win in Cardiff by a huge majority: we all knew that a year ago
Paul Flynn MP

Although there has been no comment from the Wales Labour leadership, there is likely to be private criticism of Wales 20:20.

One of the first to launch an attack was Paul Flynn, who in his weblog called it a "loser's lament" which believed two myths: first, that good organisation could have won the election, and that Mr Blair's presence did not lose it.

He argued that if Mr Blair had stood down for Gordon Brown at Christmas, as many MPs wanted, the "Brown bounce" would have happened earlier and Labour would have been 10 points ahead in May.

"Labour would have had stunning victories in Wales and Scotland, but Blair insisted on having this self-indulgent elongated goodbye," said Mr Flynn.

"Our organisations always need looking at, but it's not the reason why we lost: we lost because of the timing of the election.

"If that election was re-run today Labour would win in Cardiff by a huge majority: we all knew that a year ago.

"But it was entirely (due to) Blair's self-indulgence that we lost it that way."

Hear Huw Lewis explain what prompted him into action.

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