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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Labour urged to appeal to centre
John Stevenson
By John Stevenson
BBC Wales political correspondent

First Minister Rhodri Morgan (centre) and Ieuan Wyn Jones [R] in a Welsh Assembly Government cabinet meeting
Labour's Rhodri Morgan in cabinet with Plaid's Ieuan Wyn Jones
Labour in Wales needs to reach out to centre ground voters and address the problem of its falling support among Welsh speakers, says a new report.

Research conducted by a group from the Welsh party's national executive analysed Labour's performance in the assembly election last May.

It concluded that the party needs to reach beyond Labour's core vote for future success in elections.

The report follows MEP Eluned Morgan's call for a change in party strategy.

May's Assembly election saw the party's share of the vote fall to its lowest level in Wales for almost a century.

Labour was left well short of an overall majority in the assembly, with 26 of the 60 seats, forcing it first to seek a "stability pact" with another party and eventually to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru.

Set agreed targets with local parties for contacting voters. Resources could be withdrawn if local parties fail to reach the targets
Welsh Labour's Cardiff HQ should provide better support
Publish election promises earlier
Appoint a director of communications to run the party's media campaign
Reform the committee which draws up the party's policies
Source: Welsh Labour's national executive

The report on what went wrong during the election campaign, say its authors, has been written following an "honest" and "constructive " exercise with party members across the country.

"This report is about Welsh Labour taking a thorough look at the way it campaigns and most importantly the way it relates to the people of Wales," said Garry Owen, chairman of the group which drew up the plan.

"We know we are still the party which can best represent the whole of Wales and we need to ensure that we can demonstrate our understanding of the views of local people throughout the country and our ability to translate those views into effective policies."

The report makes recommendations about campaigning strategy and organisation.

A core point is that, in effect, party members need to focus beyond talking to each other and to reach out beyond Labour's core vote

Eluned Morgan MEP
MEP Eluned Morgan urged Labour to read the 'writing on the wall'

It says a drop in support among Welsh speakers in some regions must be addressed, while the party also has to strengthen its appeal to what the report calls 'British Welsh' voters - mainly English-speaking voters, who have a strong sense of British identity.

"Welsh Labour's leadership team in the assembly and Westminster is by far and away the most impressive of any political party" said Mr Owen, an official of the Unite union.

"We need to ensure the party at large in Wales is in the best fighting shape possible to meet the challenges."

Labour MEP Eluned Morgan made a similar appeal at the Labour conference in Bournemouth on Monday.

She argued that Labour needed support from voters on the centre ground; that Labour in Wales should look beyond its core vote and appeal to that middle ground, changing its strategy of putting "clear red water" between itself and the UK party.

A copy of the Welsh national executive's report has been sent to all the party's Assembly Members.

The next elections in Wales are for European and local councils next year.

At some point on or before 2010, the party will also fight for seats at Westminster.

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