Sunday, 27 September 2009

Hain praises Rhodri, pass the guacamole Bethan

These Welsh, they don’t go in for sentimentality much. Peter Hain, back in office as Welsh Secretary, looking, I have to say, older after the ordeal of having to step to clear his name in a financial scandal, opened the Welsh Report. He delivered the first of many ‘stand up and fight’ speeches that we’ll be hearing from Labour ministers in Brighton this week.

He introduced Rhodri Morgan, the Welsh Assembly First Minister, as the “peoples choice”, not mentioning that he ran two campaigns (Ron Davies and Alun Michael) against him.

Morgan gave a heartfelt and grateful conference address as he confirmed, for about the third time, that he will not be Labour leader in Wales next year and will step down sometime after his 70th birthday, which is on Tuesday.

Who replaces Rhodri is an important sideboard debate at this year’s conference because if Labour lose in Westminster First Minister of Wales might be the highest office in the land that the Labour Party is left occupying.

Check out Betsan Powys and Tomos Livingstone’s 07.25 to Paddington if you want to follow the machinations in detail.

One part of Rhodri’s speech is a contender for quote of the day, as he acknowledged Labour’s poll standing:

I know that we are in difficulty now. We have temporarily mislaid that magic recipe for blending the mushy peas of old Labour with the guacamole of new Labour, “ he said. “We will find that recipe again soon.”

Final note: from a Scottish perspective, you couldn't listen to Rhodri's speech in the hall, leaving the stage after ten years as the "grandfather of devolution", without a poignant thought about how Donald Dewar's life was cut short.

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