Page last updated at 19:43 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Labour has to listen, says Jones

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Carwyn Jones succeeds Rhodri Morgan as leader of Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour's new leader has held his first talks with coalition partners Plaid Cymru as he promised to start his party's electoral fightback.

Carwyn Jones met Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones the day after winning a comprehensive victory over his Labour challengers Edwina Hart and Huw Lewis.

"To win back Wales, Welsh Labour has to listen and it has to learn," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Commons that Mr Jones would be "an excellent leader".

Mr Brown congratulated Mr Jones, who is due to be confirmed as first minister in the Welsh assembly next week, replacing the retiring Rhodri Morgan.

Mr Jones, the Bridgend AM, who currently is counsel general in the assembly government - its chief legal adviser - said the economy was a priority, while a timetable on a referendum on assembly powers would be looked at over the next few weeks.

Carwyn Jones and Ieuan Wyn Jones
Carwyn Jones with Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones
One of the first things he needs to do, for the sake of his coalition, if nothing else, is to make a very clear commitment about holding that referendum
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader

The new leader will also form his first cabinet, although he has said it is too early to reveal who will be in it.

There is speculation that among those who may be promoted are Deputy Regeneration Minister Leighton Andrews, who was Mr Jones's campaign manager, Deputy Education Minister John Griffiths, and Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths.

BBC political correspondents report that among those who may lose out are Social Justice and Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons, Education Minister Jane Hutt and Finance Minister Andrew Davies.

Mr Jones will lead a coalition government with Plaid, which was formed after Labour failed to win a majority at the 2007 election.

The 42-year-old barrister won a majority among Labour politicians, party members and unions, leaving him with a clear mandate from his party.

His in-tray also includes a general election due in around six months. Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has told him that his focus needs to be on fighting that election.

Speaking at the Wales Millennium Centre, where his victory was announced, Mr Jones said Welsh Labour party members knew there was "a difficult task ahead" but the "fight back" had started.

He said there were "no no-go areas" in Wales for Labour and that he wanted to be a leader for the whole of the country.

'Make a difference'

He said: "To win back Wales, Welsh Labour has to listen and it has to learn.

"We have to make sure that we listen to people, that we keep our promises.

"I want my country to succeed. I want to make a difference to the lives of the people of Wales.

"I am proud to be Welsh, I'm proud to be British and I'm proud to be Labour."

He's very engaged about the need to regalvanise Welsh Labour as a campaigning force, to reach out to the grassroots, to establish our presence at the heart of Wales again
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain on Carwyn Jones

He said he would be making a decision next week on his cabinet, but told BBC Radio Wales Mrs Hart and Mr Lewis "had great strengths" and there were others in the party who had talents to bring to the table.

Mr Jones said Rhodri Morgan was a "hard act to follow".

'Timetable'

As first minister he will have to see out the remaining year-and-half of Labour's governing coalition with Plaid Cymru.

The two parties' coalition was rocked last week by a row over the timing of a referendum on primary law-making powers for the assembly, a key part of their One Wales [power-sharing] deal.

Mr Jones told BBC Wales: "In terms of the referendum, the next step now is for me to discuss the way forward with our coalition partners.

Carwyn Jones AM
Carwyn Jones will take over from Rhodri Morgan next week

"We have an agreement, the One Wales agreement, and that includes, of course, a clause that we have a referendum before 2011.

"So what I want to do is use the next few weeks to actually look at what the timetable might for a referendum in the future."

Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said he would also be discussing matters other than the referendum on assembly powers when he meets Mr Jones.

He said the coalition was a "government that wants to deliver on the economy, on education and on health".

He said: "And it's by delivering on those, that we can persuade people to go on to the next step.

"Clearly Carwyn will come in with some ideas - I'm very happy to talk those through - but it's in the context of delivering those One Wales commitments. Both of us understand that."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said Mr Jones would face a "big in-tray" and had been "less than forthright" in his feelings about law-making powers for Wales.

She said: "One of the first things he needs to do, for the sake of his coalition, if nothing else, is to make a very clear commitment about holding that referendum."

'Very dramatically'

But Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he expected Mr Jones to be focused "laser-like" on the task of winning at the general election.

He said Welsh Labour had relied on its traditional heartland support and had lost ground in the west and north and in the cities.

He said: "Wales has been changing very dramatically, I think faster than people think over the past 10-15 years, especially, and I think he is very aware of that.

"And that's why I think this the right time to take the party in a new campaigning direction but relying, and in a sense, emphasising, our traditional socialist values but in a modern setting and in a modern Wales.

"He's very engaged about the need to regalvanise Welsh Labour as a campaigning force, to reach out to the grassroots, to establish our presence at the heart of Wales again."

Mr Jones won in the first round against his two rivals, with 52% of the vote, which was announced on Tuesday.

Welsh Conservatives leader Nick Bourne said the scale of Mr Jones's victory was a "little bit surprising" but was a "considerable victory".

He said Mr Jones faced "formidable challenges" ranging from the economy to climate change.

He said: "I wish him well. I don't want him to fail. I want him to succeed because of Wales but the ideas the Labour Party has have not helped this country and I don't think will help the country in the future."


What would you like to see from the new First Minister? We will publish a selection of your comments below.

Any chance that one day our First Minister might actually be elected by the people of Wales? A stupid idea, I know, as I'm more than happy for self-interested politicians and self important union reps to decide it for us. I do so love democracy and democracy in Wales most of all.
simon, newport

I tell you what, let's have a referendum, and ask the people if we want to keep this Waste Assembly Government.
Dai Lewis, West Wales

I would like to see Mr Jones recognising that Monmouthshire needs to be reconfigured to include all the old areas that were excluded from the county during the last reorganisation. I would also like to see his recognition that Monmouthshire is not the same as the rest of Wales and indeed shouldn't be part of Wales. It is a border county that belongs with the other counties - in England so we can rid ourselves of the parochial and inward looking attitude that surrounds us and so that we can benefit from the better services and policies in England. The Assembly only helps us to lag behind in every way and is robbing our children of an aspirational future.
Linda, Cwmbran, UK

I would like him to make sure North Wales is treated fairly when it comes to funding.
GloriaPlummer, Anglesey , North Wales

It is of paramount importance that Carwyn Jones as First Minister improves the profile of the Welsh Assembly Government. This does not necessarily mean via improved powers but by an improvement in the quality of Assembly Members themselves. A more robust vetting procedure is required so we have members with ability and intellectual capacity to move Wales forward. This is vital to secure faith and standing as quite frankly some members are just not intellectually able to handle affairs and in some cases have no robust communication skills-it is a worry!
MICHAEL REES, Swansea/Wales

I would like to see Mr Jones doing things for the good of Wales not just for his party as he seems to be hinting.
ALAN SMITH,

I'd like to see Carwyn use opportunities of engagement with the European Union as a chance to showcase Wales as an innovative, forward looking region that has benefitted from past structural funding, but now wants to look past this and focus on showing Wales as a place to live, visit, invest in and work with, instead of publically going cap in hand to the Union proclaiming how poor we are and how much money we need. Despite coming from an area that has benefitted from this past structural funding, I would like to see the whole of Wales benefitting from Europe and not just ring-fenced area.
Kathryn, Rhondda & Brussels

I welcome Carwyn's appointment to First Minister, however I believe that a fresh approach to Local Authority Funding in Wales is paramount. Yet again we see so many Councils' budgets slashed (and non more so than Gwynedd Council's). This means having to cut costs where no more cuts are possible, make their workforce jobless that then become dependent on the state and cut services that are already cut to the bone!

Robert, Gwynedd

He will have to address the mess Edwina Hart has made of the NHS in Wales in he bid to win the leadership. We now have health boards which are too big, which were created too soon and have to make too many savings to deliver a health service which is able to stand on its own. He needs to leave Mrs Hart in her current role and make her make her plans work. I am genuinely scared of the health service me and my family will be recieving in the coming years and honestly feel it will just be easier to move to Engalnd as it is very likely we would be sent there anyway for anything more than a grazed knee.
Daniel Porter-Jones, Llandudno, Wales

In Carwyn we must appreciate that have a very able Lawyer - there is no doubt that he has the talent and skills to deliver the components that Wales needs to develops its "Law Machine" which will deliver World Class Legislation for the whole of Wales.
Richard Jones, Cardiff

I would like to see more investment in the valleys to turn them around, with jobs the most important. most of the money has been spent in cardiff. Now it's everybody else turn
LIZ,



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