Profile of Edwina Hart, who could become the first female leader of the Welsh Labour party.
With just six weeks to go until the new Leader of the Welsh Labour party is declared on December 1st, Left Foot Forward provides the first in a series of profiles of the three candidates vying to replace Rohdri Morgan. The first to be profiled is Edwina Hart.
Assembly Member for Gower and currently the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services, Ms Hart has held Ministerial office since the birth of devolution, holding positions as Minister for Finance and Local Government until 2003 and then serving for four years as Minister for Social Justice.
Before her election to Cardiff Bay, Hart was an active member of the Trade Union movement, serving as President of the banking union BIFU (now part of Unite) and as Chair of the Welsh Trades Union Congress.
Launching her manifesto at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, she said:
“When my mother was born, women in Wales had never had the vote. Now, less than a century later, I am a candidate to be the first woman to lead our party in Wales.
“None of this has happened without the Labour movement, and I am proud of the part I have been able to play, both as President of the Wales TUC and as a Minister in Rhodri Morgan’s Assembly Government for the past ten years.”
In particular, her manifesto contained commitments to:
• Ensure firms and businesses form full members of the welsh “Social Partnership”, committed to good employment practices, providing opportunities for workers to upskill, promote corporate responsibility and ensure environmental sustainability.
• Create a new Citizens Bank for Wales, possibly on a not for profit basis, to provide finance to those who now find it impossible to gain it from traditional banks and building societies.
• Establish a new alignment between economic development and higher education.
• Working along the lines of the economic summits used by Rhodri Morgan that has led Wales in efforts to come out of recession, new social summits will take place to address problems that will arise when out of recession. Top of the agenda will be ensuring young people have the opportunities and jobs they need.
• Personally lead and beef up policies to eradicate child poverty in Wales.
• Continued support for the ban on experiments with genetically modified crops.
• Champion the need to address climate change, redouble efforts to increase the use of renewable energy and remain sceptical of the use of nuclear energy.
• Move public services to a condition of co-production in which users and providers work together and collaborate rather than let competition prevail.
• Establish a Centre for Public Service Improvement, spreading best practice across all public services. Likewise, a Leadership Academy would be created to train future leaders of services such as health and education.
• Pursue greater devolution of powers to local government.
• Improve access for all to digital media and technology.
• Energetically support programmes aimed at bringing back home those Welsh people who have left to find work elsewhere.
• Make the Welsh language a language for all rather than a select few; especially engage black children with the native tongue.
• Strengthen party links with the trade unions and grassroots members.
• Support the principle of greater powers, along the lines of those enjoyed by Scotland, subject to a referendum.
• Ensure open government and improved democratic control and oversight of public services and bodies.
• Campaign for a new, needs-based funding system to replace the outdated Barnett Formula.
Ms Hart’s bid has received a number of boosts, having gained the support of Unite the union, former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, and the Welsh Education and Finance Ministers, Jane Hutt and Andrew Davies.
See www.edwina4labour.com for more.
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