Vaughan Gething (right): 'Wait for Starmer' or nationalise now? Photos: Theo, Senedd Cymru/CC
Vaughan Gething (right): 'Wait for Starmer' or nationalise now? Photos: Theo, Senedd Cymru/CC

John Williams, Cardiff East Socialist Party

Even by Welsh Labour’s standards, the current leadership election, that will determine the next First Minister of Wales, has been uninspiring. Vaughan Gething is the Blairite frontrunner, the other candidate is Jeremy Miles MS.

Gething has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It was revealed that his campaign accepted a £200,000 donation from a waste disposal company whose director has been convicted twice for environmental offences, including illegally dumping waste on a conservation site! Hypocritically, Gething’s leadership manifesto pledges to strengthen enforcement action to protect the environment with stricter penalties! Gething has been silent on the recent Welsh Water pollution scandal where, last year, the company dumped untreated sewage for nearly 600,000 hours. The obvious answer is to bring Welsh Water into democratic public ownership and fully fund it.


At a recent demo in support of Tata steelworkers in Port Talbot, Gething spoke. He provided no solutions, apart from waiting for a Starmer-led Labour government. That was it! Surrounded by Socialist Party placards, demanding ‘Nationalisation not devastation’, he didn’t even take up that issue once or support steelworkers’ upcoming strike ballots. There was little enthusiasm from the crowd; a heckler shouted: “Pay our nurses properly!”

This was in reference to the wave of NHS Wales strikes that took place last year. The Welsh government went to war with the health unions, opposing the strikes and blaming public sector pay, in part, for some of the cuts they have made. In the end, the Labour-led Senedd (Welsh parliament) offered an additional 3% one-off payment for 2022-23, and a 5% consolidated rise for 2023-24, not too dissimilar to what the Tories in England offered.

Gething is currently the Minster of the Economy for Wales, and the upcoming Welsh government budget cuts will ruin lives (see ‘What is point of Welsh Labour if it passes on UK Tory cuts?’). Because of inflation, the budget is worth £1.3 billion less now than when it was originally announced in 2021. And the real value of the Welsh budget is £3 billion less than it was in 2010.

Gething and Miles haven’t once supported the call for a socialist Welsh government to fight cuts, privatisation and to demand the necessary funding from Westminster. Both abstained in a recent vote in support of a ceasefire in Gaza. You can’t tell the difference between these two candidates and Keir Starmer, whose likely next government will attack working-class people and make cuts, just with the Labour banner. Many members of unions who can vote in this leadership election will simply not bother.

But we’re not just going to complain about it. We’ll be holding a Wales Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition public meeting later this year, to bring together Welsh socialists, strikers, campaigners, and everyone who wants to build a working-class political alternative in Wales.