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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Pull plug on 'red water' says MEP
Eluned Morgan MEP
Eluned Morgan said the 'writing was on the wall' at the assembly poll
An MEP says Welsh Labour must change its strategy of putting "clear red water" between itself and the UK party.

Eluned Morgan made the call at a fringe meeting at the Labour conference while beside the policy's architect, First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

She said the assembly election showed it was not enough to win key marginals and urged Labour to look past its core vote and appeal to the middle ground.

Mr Morgan said Labour had suffered dips in support before and recovered.

The idea of ditching the strategy has also been suggested in an internal report presented to members of the party's Welsh executive.

The MEP told the meeting Welsh Labour needed to consider three issues after the assembly election result, which left Labour with 26 out of 60 seats and forced it to seek a power-sharing coalition with Plaid Cymru.

Ms Morgan said Labour had to examine the rise in the Conservative vote, the collapse in support in rural and Welsh-speaking areas and the increase in backing for the Liberal Democrats.

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan said Labour had recovered from dips in support

She told BBC Radio Wales the assembly election had shown the "writing was on the wall," with a greater swing to the Tories in Wales than the rest of the country.

She said the party had to look at the way society had changed and to understand the different issues that appealed to people.

She said: "What's clear is that we need to change our message, change the way we're speaking and who we're speaking to.

"I think what we've been doing in the past is concentrating, quite rightly, on the core Labour vote, that we know in the past has come out to support us.

"But that is not enough. We need to have much broader appeal than that if we are to win back those Tory marginal seats."

She said she was not proposing a carbon copy of what Prime Minister Gordon Brown was delivering for England and the rest of the UK.

She said: "Not at all - I think we can still do a 'made in Wales' version of what is necessary for 'middle Wales', if you want."

'Unionist beliefs'

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy told the same conference meeting that Labour should resist the possibility of "an obsession with identity in Wales".

Welsh Assembly Government Counsel General and Leader of the House Carwyn Jones said Labour should proclaim its unionist beliefs more.

Former First Secretary Alun Michael said the assembly should be increased to 80 members, with two per constituency, and no regional list AMs.

He also suggested a Northern Ireland-style power-sharing deal in which all parties would share responsibility for making devolution work.

  • Nick Bourne, leader of the Conservatives in the assembly, responded to the MEP's comments by saying: "This is the clearest indication yet that Rhodri Morgan's 'clear red water' project is dead.

    "His own colleagues are rejecting it because they know it is unworkable, rigid, outdated dogma which has held Wales back for far too long."

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