Mark Drakeford calls himself 'Prime Minister of Wales'
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Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford appeared to openly attack Sir Keir Starmer at the party’s annual conference today. Giving a keynote speech to Labour members, the Welsh First Minister swiped at his party boss for failing to back electoral reform.
He hailed proportional representation in the Welsh Parliament, the Senedd, for being responsible for the achievements of the Government.
Sir Keir has outright rejected electoral reform for Westminster elections despite intense pressure from members of his own party.
Joining those voices critical of the leader’s decision, Mr Drakeford said: “The Senedd, with its unbroken Labour Governments, has always been elected by proportional representation, a system put on the statute book – twice! – by a Labour Government at Westminster.
“And, in a special conference, earlier this summer, over three-quarters of the entire Welsh Party voted to strengthen the proportionality of our voting system, to make sure that every Labour vote will count towards creating that next Welsh Labour Government.
“And secondly, conference, while Labour has always formed the Government in Wales, we’ve never governed alone.
“The fault line in Welsh politics runs right down the middle of the Senedd.
“On the one side, a reactionary, out-of-touch, deeply unloved Conservative Party.
“On the other side, those Parties committed to social and economic progress.
“Do the Parties of the centre left agree on everything? Of course not.
“But we focus on those areas where progressive parties can agree.”
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Labour Party members have demanded a commitment from the leadership to ditch the first past the post system used for general elections and replace it with proportional representation.
Some Labour members have argued the FPTP system – in which the candidate with the most votes in a constituency becomes an MP – favours the Tories and encourages voter apathy.
They are calling for Labour to commit to introducing PR, ensuring a distribution of seats more closely linked to the number of votes cast.
Labour members will this evening vote on a motion urging the party to commit to proportional representation.
Sir Keir is understood to be ready to ignore the motion even if it passes.
He told the Observer: “There are a lot of people in the Labour party who are pro-PR but it’s not a priority and we go into the next election under the same system that we’ve got, first past the post, and I’m not doing any deals going into the election or coming out of the election.”
Despite the internal party row over the UK electoral system, Mr Drakeford said: “We want Keir Starmer to be Prime Minister, because we know that he will want to do the things which only Labour can do.
“Britain really can be better.”
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