By Sian Burkitt
Mark Drakeford is currently the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government. He has served as the Assembly Member (AM) for Cardiff West since 2011, and prior to his political career he was a professor of Social Policy at Cardiff University.
His campaign appears to take a leaf straight out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book, positioning him as the ‘no-nonsense, straight-talking’ candidate. Drakeford’s campaign page states that “he belongs to the radical, Welsh socialist tradition and is standing for election to offer that political choice” to the people of Wales.
Drakeford’s proposals include closing the gender pay gap, promoting lifelong learning and providing more financial support to small businesses. He has also promised to distribute baby boxes to new parents across Wales, presumably taking inspiration from the similar Scottish Government scheme rolled out in 2017.
He is currently the favourite to win the contest, garnering significant support from both within and outside of the Senedd, particularly among the Labour Party’s grassroots movement Momentum. He has the backing of 24 of Wales’ Constituency Labour Parties and 8 trade unions (including Unite, UNISON and CWU).
However, Drakeford may struggle to appeal to pro-EU Labour members as he is the only candidate not in favour of a second referendum on Brexit.
Vaughan Gething is currently the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services and has been the AM for Cardiff South and Penarth since 2011. Before his election to the Senedd he was a trade union lawyer and the first black president of NUS Wales.
Gething’s campaign slogan is “Change Takes Courage”. Born in Zambia to a Zambian mother and Welsh father, he is hoping to be the first black leader of a UK nation and has emphasised the importance of change and renewal in his campaign.
At the core of Gething’s campaign is his support for the People’s Vote and he has openly criticised Mark Drakeford’s stance on Brexit. He also wants to introduce a new “National Care Service’” to work on the implementation of the living wage across Wales and introduce free university tuition to young people leaving care.
Gething has the backing of 2 of Wales’ Constituency Labour Parties and 2 trade unions (GMB and Community). Additionally, Welsh Young Labour and BAME Labour have also pledged their support for this candidate.
Despite his emphasis on a second Brexit referendum, Gething has the potential to appear hypocritical to voters, given that he voted against Plaid Cymru’s proposal for a People’s Vote in the Senedd last month which could damage his campaign’s reception among Labour party members.
Eluned Morgan is an Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales and the Minister for Welsh Language & Learning.
She was elected as the youngest ever Member of the European Parliament in 1994 and received a peerage in 2011, serving as the Shadow Minister for Wales and then the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords until 2016.
Morgan promises to go “Beyond the Bubble” of the political elite in Cardiff Bay, focussing her campaign on 3 key issues in particular: the economy, care and the environment.
Morgan is also strongly in favour of a People’s Vote on Brexit and promotes how she has experience of leading Labour on the EU Referendum Bill in the House of Lords. She also campaigns her belief in a “One Member One Vote” system for Wales and promises to give more of a voice to citizens in North Wales.
Her campaign is backed by 2 Constituency Labour Parties in Wales.
However, stacked against Morgan is the lack of trade union support enjoyed by her rivals and, like fellow candidate Vaughan Gething, her vote against Plaid’s motion for a second Brexit referendum may appear hypocritical.