Monday, 24 September 2007

Clear red water

Bournemouth's Manchester Hotel has played host to the Wurzels, Little and Large, and Ken Dodd.

Tonight, over a buffet of chicken wings and vol-au-vents, it hosted Rhodri Morgan, Paul Murphy and around 60 delegates to the Labour conference - at a fringe meeting that resembled a polite inquest into last May's Welsh Assembly election results.

Morgan and Murphy were brought together by MEP Eluned Morgan, who took the chance to criticise Rhodri Morgan's approach of claiming to put "clear red water" between Labour in Cardiff Bay and Westminster.

Speaking hours after Gordon Brown told the conference about plans for a personalised NHS in England, she called for a more aspirational route from Welsh Labour to follow the New Labour approach.

Eluned Morgan said Labour had to face up to the fact that in some areas "people simply don't like what we are doing".

She added: "We should not be tiptoeing around the nationalists despite being in coalition with them."

Former Secretary of State Paul Murphy told the meeting Labour should resist the possibility of "an obsession with identity in Wales".

(Assembly) Leader of the House Carwyn Jones said Labour should proclaim its unionist beliefs more - a move welcomed by one devosceptic MP.

Former first secretary Alun Michael said the Assembly should be increased to include 80 members, two per constituency, with no regional list AMs. He also suggested a Northern Ireland-style power-sharing deal in which all parties would share responsibility for making devolution work.

Two MPs told me privately afterwards that many of their party colleagues are still in denial about Labour's poor results, blaming Tony Blair's unpopularity rather than problems with the NHS, particularly in the western part of Wales.

I think this inquest could have some distance to run.

1 comment:

Christopher Glamorgan said...

That bl**dy Alun Michael has stolen my idea. Have a word, David. ;>D