Rhodri Morgan said voters should focus on which party can deliver for Wales
Rhodri Morgan has appealed to voters in the European elections to concentrate on fighting the recession rather than the "surface ephemera" of MPs expenses.
The Welsh Labour leader and first minister said voters felt "real anger" about politicians' allowances.
But he said next month's poll should focus on who can deliver for Wales.
At a low-key manifesto launch, Labour claimed Conservatives would "walk on by" in the recession while Labour was using EU funds to help real families.
Mr Morgan pointed to the assembly government's "react" and "proact" schemes as examples of European-funded plans that were benefiting the Welsh economy.
"The Tories would take Wales and Britain to the fringes of Europe while the nationalists are focussing on independence we know that is a blind alley for Wales," he said.
Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan said the EU could help in the economic recovery
Mr Morgan also warned of the dangers of voters turning to extreme parties at a time of economic difficulty.
"We are calling on the people of Wales to keep the extremists out. Welsh society has a strong tradition of 'chwarae teg' (fair play) and has no place for extreme views."
Labour's lead candidate in the elections Derek Vaughan warned of dire economic consequences for Wales if the Conservatives were to succeed in the elections.
"The choice is to grow our way out of recession or cut our way out" he said.
"Labour will work with our European partners to ensure the recession is as short and shallow as possible."
Mr Vaughan added that the prospect of the sort of spending cuts introduced by the Conservatives in 1980s and 90s would set "alarm bells ringing" amongst Welsh workers and their families.
"Only Labour will provide help for people now and plan for recovery" Mr Vaughan added.
Labour's Welsh manifesto promises continued support for the social chapter and workers' rights in Europe as well as global action to tackle poverty and climate change.
Labour currently holds two of the four Welsh seats in the European Parliament, but faces a difficult task to maintain its position following disappointing results in the last local and Welsh assembly elections.
Both current Labour MEPs, Glenys Kinnock and Eluned Morgan, are retiring at this election, adding to Labour's difficulties.
The first minister insisted, though, that morale remained high amongst Labour's "fighting force", despite the unpopularity of the UK government and poor opinion poll findings.
"We have to get out there and have to get the message across no matter how difficult it is," he added.
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