Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Labour Conference Talk: Welsh Labour in Llandudno

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

Another year, another trip to Llandudno for the Labour faithful and, as usual, another round of media speculation about not much that managed to miss most of the interesting developments and gossip entirely.

Starting on a 'serious' note and the boulder-sized clanger dropped by leadership contender Carwyn Jones, with a little help from Labour's Airmiles collector-in-chief and sometime MEP Eluned Morgan. Someone, somewhere (perhaps his bequiffed press officer) thought it would be a good idea for Carwyn to show what a fantastic leader in waiting he is by... er... calling two-thirds of supporters and Party members 'anti-Welsh' at a conference fringe event. Ably abetted by Ms Morgan, this not so dynamic duo managed to pin the blame for Labour's disastrous Assembly election result firmly at the door of loyal Party activists in the Valleys who are, apparently, anti-Welsh. Poor policies, lack of a proper campaign and a massively botched hospital closure plan apparently had nothing to do with it. However, Valleys delegates were prepared to ignore the inane rants as part and parcel of the conference bubble. Until, that is, they opened Monday's Western Mail back at home.

On its front page, Tomos Livingstone gave a huge splash to the story (no doubt with some added briefing), beating himself into a veritable frenzy with his page 4 spread entitled "Anti-Welsh Valleys are 'costing Labour votes' ". Labour activists are outraged, as are key players from Labour-run Councils in the valleys. AMs from these 'anti-Welsh' seats are also fuming at the bizarre sleight. Matters were not improved at all after Eluned Morgan's strange 'clarification' letter in yesterday's edition, which only seemed to empty several cans of petrol onto the raging flames. This is clearly not the end of Carwyn's leadership tilt, indeed he remains the favourite in many people's eyes. But things once spoken cannot be un-said, and Labour members have long memories. Being a bit pro-Plaid is one thing, but being anti-Labour is quite another.

The conference highlight for many, though, was not one of policy, but one of personality. The ever popular Alun Davies was seen sheepishly having several strips torn off him by Torfaen terrier Lynne Neagle in full view of stunned delegates, visitors and exhibitors. Details of why Davies was getting the hairdryer treatment are a little sketchy, but word is that he made the fatal mistake of badmouthing several AMs while in very high spirits at the conference bar [allegedly]. While Neagle is more than capable of giving as good as she gets, several of Davies' other targets are of a more reticent disposition. Never one to learn from his mistakes, though, he is already up to the same tricks back in the Senedd [allegedly]. He may, however, have bitten off more than he can chew, where there is an almighty storm brewing over his alleged gossiping about a colleagues alleged drink problem. There is only so far that Rhodri's patronage will protect him...

And finally, a quick game of 'Guess Who'. Which Welsh politician was allegedly seen accompanying a leading political lobbyist and a legal big-wig into the lavatories of the St Georges Hotel in Llandudno to 'freshen up' several times during a mammoth session on the Saturday night of conference? And here's a clue - it wasn't Jeff Cuthbert.

(Hat-tip to the Anonymous)


Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 09:33  

Carwyn has messed up big time. Even if what he said was true (I don't think it was), it was stupid in the extreme. Game on!

clairebear95 20 February 2008 at 09:59  

Who's the sniffer? Tell us!

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 10:30  

Does anyone in the world like Alan Davies? His mum, maybe?

Alun Davies' Mum 20 February 2008 at 11:27  

No - he's a snivelling little git.

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 11:42  

Just cast my vote for Labour's MEP's list with little Eluned as no 4. What a time to insult the valleys. It must go down as one of the biggest politcal mistakes in Weslh Labour history. We know that Tony Blair didn't like the average Labour party members but we know find out that we are also disliked by Billy Bunter and Little miss Muffet

Paul 20 February 2008 at 11:51  

Just cast my vote for Labour's MEP's list with little Eluned as no 4,

Miss Muffett - no you haven't. Eluned is not on the ballot paper - she won the CLP trigger ballot so is guaranteed top spot. You liar.

Timmo 20 February 2008 at 12:01  

Paul (Eluned?) - think Anon was being 'tongue in cheek'. There are only three names on the paper, hence him placing her at number four. And 'winning' trigger ballots is not really anything to be proud about. The Labour Party would never let CLPs de-select a sitting, femaile MEP, however dreadful she is.

james_craven 20 February 2008 at 12:26  

As fascinating Morgan's reselection process is, what the heck was Carwyn thinking? His Union Jack waving in today's Western Mail just makes him look even more stupid.

Boyo 20 February 2008 at 13:23  

He's really screwed up his chances.

Hotel Colombia 20 February 2008 at 13:38  
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Jean Monnet 20 February 2008 at 15:35  

Good for you timmo. You should have seen the rubbish she sent out asking to be reselected. Basically it said I'm Labour and I wouldn't rock the boat. Keep me on the European money train please comrades. The sooner we have open lists where the electorate actually select who will represent Wales the better. As it stands at the moment the system could have been designed by Joe Stalin. The result is most people will not even bother to vote in 2009 as usual. It will be a referendum in the UK on the performance of Brown's government at Westminster if there hasn't been a UK election and nothing else. At least Glynis Kinnock and Jonathan Evans had something about them . The rumours are that the Tories will select an idiot to top their list. Someone told me that Laura Ann Jones of Hain joke fame was one of the favourites. Jill Evans is frankly just brain dead. What a bunch to represent Wales in Europe!

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 15:39  

Today's Western Mail story was Carwyn's attempt to show the intellectual influences behind his political philosophy. Wales is lucky to have a politician who has been influenced by the Beano and the Dandy to produce such a penetrating analysis of the way forward.

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 15:52  

If Paul is right then little Eluned is a Euro MP for life. She will never be deselected. As a Euro MP she isn't responsilble for anything and therefoe will never annoy anyone. She seems to most party members to be a nice sort of girl and Labour isn't and never has been a ruthless party. In these circumstances there will never be a trigger ballot which call for areselectin contest and she will always top the poll. Even Pol Pot hadn't thought of this scam. In 2009 perhaps someone should start a campaign of spoiling the ballot appaers until democracy is returned to the people of Wales. At least with the old Euro constituenies there was some link with the electorate and hence some accountabilty. Ironically given the Assembly results in her old guise as MEP for Mid and West Wales Eluned would be heading for certain defeat. As it stands the Labour candidates on the list at no 3 and no4 are only probably taking a 4 week holiday from their normal job.

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 16:55  

Oh I really wish i'd seen lynne neagle tear Alun Davies to shreds. That man is a complete and utter disgrace, not just to Labour, but to mankind. He really is a prat. Glad that lynne Neagle took him down a peg or too. He appears to have no sense of loyalty to the Labour party either - who in it hasn't he bitched about behind there backs?

Anonymous 20 February 2008 at 21:24  

Jones was clearly misquoted as agreeing with eluned earlier in the week. Todays coverage, far from being beano/dandy politics, is a clear attempt to unite the whole party, from valley to coast, West to East, North to South. Because Jones is not afraid to reach out beyond the valley vote, where some leadership contenders hide away, let us not assume that he is some closet nat. Clearly part of his strength lays in his welsh language ability but if you read the coverage of his speech properly, it is obvious that he is calling for unity, not abandoning the valleys. Or could it be that his detractors are actually simply whipping up this purely tabloid anti valley rubbish, purely to enhance the leadership prospects of his/hers favoured runner?

Anonymous 21 February 2008 at 09:41  

Anon 21.24 - you are Luke Ellis and I claim my £10.

Confused of Cardiff 21 February 2008 at 09:59  

Who is Luke Ellis?

Charlotte 21 February 2008 at 10:11  

He is Carwyn Jones's researcher though he gives himself some grand title like 'Chief Strategy Advisor and Press Manager'. He also uses far too much hair gel and looks a bit creepy.

Anonymous 21 February 2008 at 10:24  

Huw Lewis chipping in in the Western Mail today.

Anonymous 21 February 2008 at 10:24  

Anon 21.24 should compare Carwyn's weak contribution with the far more interesting comments of Huw Lewis in today's Western Mail. Everyone knows that Carwyn is a closet Nat who was part of the gang that put the knife into Alun Michael.Lewis has the real potential to really galvanise those in the Labour Party who rankly have had enough of the romantics who seem to inhabit the Assembly.

Carlo Marko 21 February 2008 at 11:21  

Carwyn's letter in the Western mail today would be funny were it not so pathetic.

Paul 21 February 2008 at 13:02  
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KAREN EVANS 21 February 2008 at 14:28  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 21 February 2008 at 15:01  
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Miss Wagstaff 21 February 2008 at 15:34  

I've removed the character assassination of an AM employee for obvious reasons.

The Labour lot from rival camps need to behave themselves ;)

Anonymous 21 February 2008 at 16:06  

As a Tory staffer, I can honestly say that the comments - while mean - were all true. But can see why they had to come down.

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