Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Jones invokes 'Calzaghe spirit'

Carwyn Jones
Carwyn Jones is AM for Bridgend and assembly government Counsel General

A leading contender to be the next Welsh Labour leader has laid out his vision for the party.

Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones said Wales needs a "Calzaghe spirit" - "punching above its weight".

The wide-ranging Llanelli speech will be seen as confirmation that he intends running for the post if Rhodri Morgan stands down, as expected, in September.

Fellow cabinet members Andrew Davies and Edwina Hart, as well as Merthyr Tydfil AM Huw Lewis, could also stand.

However, no-one has yet formally announced they plan throwing their hat into the ring.

Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews ruled himself out as a contender last November.

Mr Morgan will be 70 on 29 September, and has said he intends retiring as Labour leader, and first minister, "on or around" that date, unless the calling of a general election by Gordon Brown forces him to delay his plans.

I am not afraid to use the S-word
Carwyn Jones

Mr Jones told an audience of party members at Llanelli town hall: "We need a narrative that recognises how Wales has changed in recent times, and how it needs to change in the years ahead.

"Less focus on past achievement, more focus on future challenge and opportunity.

"People want to know what we will do for them next year, not what we did for them last year."

Mr Jones, who is Counsel General in the assembly government cabinet, admitted the party's organisation is weak in many parts of Wales - and said trade unions have a role to play in strengthening the party's presence in these areas.

Alongside organisational changes, the Bridgend AM called on his party to be more ambitious in its thinking.

"Organisation is important, but so are ideas," he said.

"We need to develop the capacity to formulate new ideas and detail new policies.

"We have the policy forum route of course, but there also needs to be a mechanism where members can develop and publish their own ideas; an ideas exchange where party thinking can be discussed and shaped for the future.

Joe Calzaghe
Joe Calzaghe could inspire Wales, according to Carwyn Jones

"Identifying the problems is easy but providing the solutions is the challenge."

Mr Jones will back the recent call by former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain for the party to reach out to increasingly affluent, aspirational voters, as well as keeping its core vote.

He will say: "Some months ago, my colleague (Newport West AM) Rosemary Butler posed a question that I think is the most important for us to answer over the next few years.

"That question is; as people get more affluent will they continue to vote Labour?

"My answer is yes they will, but we need to change the way in which we look to appeal to them.

"There is nothing wrong with aspiration.

"Individuals naturally want the best for themselves and their families, but they also want the best for their communities.

"Some may say that this is to ignore our socialist principles. I am not afraid to use the S-word.

"Enabling people to express their potential and fulfil their aspirations is a fundamental principle of socialism."

Are you sitting comfortably?
24 Feb 07 |  Wales politics

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