A former security guard today throws his hat into the ring to become Labour’s next leader in Wales.
Huw Irranca-Davies, 55, vowed to bridge the gulf between the party and its Brexit voters.
He exclusively revealed to the Mirror why he wants to succeed Carwyn Jones as party chief and Welsh First Minister.
Mr Irranca-Davies, who was an MP from 2002 to 2016 before becoming an Assembly Member, said I wouldn’t be putting myself forward if I didn’t think that after 14 years as an MP and many of those as a minister, as a leading committee chair both in Westminster and here in Wales when I came back, that I didn’t now have both the experience but also the vision to go forward.
He vowed to reconnect Labour with its heartlands and heal the rift with its Brexit-backing supporters.
An initial Welsh surge for UKIP in the run-up to the EU referendum was followed by rising support for the Conservatives as Theresa May pursues withdrawal from the bloc.
We have to recognise that many of our supporters voted for Brexit. It differed from area to area, but many Labour supporters did, said Mr Irranca-Davies.
But I don’t think they were voting to find themselves or their sons and daughters out of work.
They didn’t expect the Tories to be cack-handed.
We need to respect the genuine reasons why people voted the way they did.
Many people felt disconnected from what’s happening globally, they felt disconnected from high-level politics.
Part of the job of Welsh Labour is to reconnect with those communities in their heartlands.
The politician once worked as a night security guard doing 12-hour shifts in the City of London after being made redundant.
That was my biggest learning experience because if politics is about anything, it’s about never casting somebody off, it’s about saying there is always a second chance, he said.
Part of the role of the state is to lift people up and dust them off and say, ‘You’re going to get that second chance, you can go further, you can do more’.
It’s what gives me a lot of empathy with people who find themselves in tough times.
The job of Welsh Labour leader is one of the party’s most powerful.
Labour has been in government at Cardiff Bay since the Assembly was set-up in 1999.
It has often had a tense relationship with Jeremy Corbyn’s London-based party.
But Mr Irranca-Davies believes he can forge a strong relationship with the UK operation.
We are not a poor cousin here, he said.
You can’t have any parts of the UK which feel they are a branch office of UK Labour or London Labour.
They have to be very much an entity in themselves, so the relationship would be strong, it would be one of respect between Welsh Labour and UK Labour.
First Minister Mr Jones steps down in December after nine years at the helm.
Three candidates have so far entered the race to replace him, with Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford the current favourite.
But former Environment Minister Mr Irranca-Davies wants to shake-up the contest.
He said When we change leader within Welsh Labour, 20 years from the start of devolution, it’s a real chance to reinvent the party, to renew our vision for Wales and look at a step-change in the way we deliver on jobs, on quality of life, on health and social care – all the aspects, the bread and butter things that really matter to people.
We need to grasp this opportunity this summer.
I’m very keen to enter the fray with a real battle of ideas that will drive that step-change forward.
News Source MirrorNews