Everything you need to know about the Welsh Labour Leadership contest

With Welsh Labour Members heading to the polls this Friday, we bid Hwyl Fawr to Prif Weinidog, and Labour Leader, Mark Drakeford. Best for Britain’s Georgia Wiltshire takes a look at the candidates in the running for the job:

The battle for the next Welsh Labour Leader is very much a two-horse race. No, this isn’t a dodgy bar chart on a political leaflet, there’s actually only two candidates in the running! Members of the Senedd Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles are going head to head to take over the reins from Mark Drakeford who is to step down after over 5 years in the post.

But before I delve into what Welsh Labour’s prospective leaders have to offer, it’s worth taking a look back at the past 5 and a bit years of Drakeford’s leadership. Much of Drakeford’s tenure has been defined by challenge after challenge from Brexit to the pandemic, underpinned of course by the biggest challenge of all, the current Conservative Westminster Government. Despite all this, Drakeford has led the Welsh Government in making significant progress towards a more democratic and equal Wales. 


Prior to being elected to the Senedd in 2011, Drakeford was more than familiar with public-serving roles having worked as a probation officer, youth justice worker and University Lecturer to name just a few, and so held a wealth of experience in what you might call “ordinary life”, something often lacking amongst modern day politicians. Following his election as leader in 2018, he led Welsh Labour to a record-equaling victory in the 2021 Senedd elections, which I would say is a credit to his calm and collected handling of the pandemic response, a stark contrast to the scandals and corruption that had unfolded across the bridge and down the M4 in Downing Street. 

Throughout his political career and time as First Minister, Mark Drakeford has been a staunch advocate for further devolution for Wales and importantly, electoral reform, made evident through the Welsh Government’s announcement last September that they plan to expand the size of the Senedd by a third and are committed to abolishing first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting and single-member constituencies for Senedd elections. A major win for democratic equality within Wales, and an encouraging development for organisations like Best for Britain as we continue to campaign for electoral reform in Westminster. 

However, Drakeford’s time in office hasn’t been free from criticism, particularly with falling education standards and the Welsh NHS reaching breaking point, leaving the next leader of Welsh Labour with a rather long to-do list. 


Vaughan Gething 

Current Role: Minister for the Economy 

Having grown up in his constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth I’m more than familiar with Vaughan Gething and I'm not the only one. He's somewhat of a household name within Welsh politics having started out as a Cardiff councillor in 2004 alongside a career in law, followed by his election to the Senedd in 2011. 

His key pledges include increasing the number of green jobs; the introduction of a women’s health plan; a new national mission to ensure everyone has the skills they need for the future; and further devolved powers for Wales. 

Jeremy Miles 

Current Role: Minister for Education and Welsh Language

Jeremy Miles is a newer face on the Welsh political scene having been elected to the Senedd in 2016 following a career as a Solicitor and legal roles within the Film and TV industry. He also had the lucky job of being Brexit Minister from 2018-2021.

His key pledges include the reform of Wales’ largest health board Betsi Cadwaladr; investment in Wales’ green economy; the banning of conversion therapy; further devolved powers, and interestingly, rebuilding the UK’s ties with the EU.


Without stating the obvious, there isn’t a massive amount of disparity amongst the two candidates' pledges, which is perhaps a tribute to Drakeford’s record in itself. 

On paper, Gething appears the popular choice among Welsh Labour MPs in Westminster with them making up almost half of his total 24 supporting nominations alongside 11 Senedd Member nominations. Miles on the other hand has received greater support among Senedd Members with 17 nominations, alongside 11 supporting nominations that include Lord Hain and Baroness Gale.

Unsurprisingly, both candidates are committed to tackling the biggest challenges currently facing Wales; repairing and rebuilding the NHS, and boosting the country’s economy. However, with 3 health boards in Wales currently facing intervention, and TATA steel’s announcement in January that they are closing their Port Talbot furnace, it will be no easy task. And with a General Election on the horizon, the next leader won’t have long to settle in.

What remains clear is that regardless of who becomes First Minister, both candidates are keen to escape the clutches of the Government in Westminster with the introduction of further devolved powers, and can you blame them?

This fact, in conjunction with the ongoing plans for electoral reform in the Senedd, not to mention the recognition of UK-EU relations within Miles’ pledges, places Wales strides ahead of Westminster in terms of democratic equality, international cooperation and repairing our relationship with the EU. The next Government in Westminster must follow their lead. 


Ballots for the Welsh Labour Leadership contest open on 16th February, with the winner announced on 16th March in Cardiff.