Profile of Huw Lewis
In the second in a series looking at those aiming to be elected as the next leader of Welsh Labour Party, Left Foot Forward profiles Huw Lewis, Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, and the only backbencher to stand.
Born in the town of Aberfan, Lewis often describes the impact the tragic mining accident in the town has had on him. Following a period teaching Chemistry, Lewis went on to assume the position of Assistant General Secretary of Welsh Labour in 1994, leading the campaign for a “yes” vote when voters were given the chance to vote for a devolved assembly.
In the Assembly, Mr Lewis has held a number of ministerial posts, including Deputy Education Minister and Deputy Minister for Social Justice. In 2007 he lost his job as Minister for Regeneration when Labour entered into a coalition with Plaid Cymru.
Launching his manifesto in Newport, he takes a somewhat more radical approach to his campaign, concluding that Labour faces a crisis comparable with 1979 as it has “lost touch with too many people we were elected to represent”.
Specifically, his manifesto commits to:
• Build on the economic summits, by establishing new social partnerships between Government, business and trade unions.
• Find cross party agreement for an accord to tackle climate change in Wales.
• Step up the pace in building new, affordable, better homes, using co-operative and mutual housing models to get them built.
• Produce a new manufacturing strategy, recognising the importance of research and development and a shift to a low carbon economy.
• Establish a comprehensive bus franchising scheme to ensure everyone in Wales can access decent public transport.
• Take swift action to address funding inequalities between schools.
• Improve the democratic accountability of universities and colleges, with a greater voice for staff and students.
• Establish a Welsh Career Ladder Scheme to “reconnect aspiration with realisation”.
• Improve access to training for working age adults.
• Set up a new commission on how to measure rural poverty and boost efforts to improve the economic prospects of rural areas.
• Renew efforts to improve outcomes for NHS patients and end hidden waits in the health service.
• Study the possibility of financial incentives for micro and small scale generation.
• Establish a child poverty unit to drive policy in this area and raise the profile of credit unions.
• Improve access for all to the Welsh language.
• Strengthen Welsh Labour by strengthening the voice and role of grassroots members and providing MPs and other elected representatives with a greater role in policy making.
Mr Lewis currently enjoys the support of a number of Labour organisations and MPs, including the Co-Operative Party and the former Labour First Minister and Cardiff South and Penarth MP, Alun Michael.
See www.huwlewis.org.uk for more
Next week Left Foot Forward will publish details of Carwyn Jones’s campaign.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.