In 2022, Welsh Labour celebrates 100 years since Labour first won a majority of the seats in General Elections in Wales.
The hundred years proceeding saw Welsh Labour achievements like the National Health Service form a key part of the legacy of Labour Governments across the UK.
Last night, i was honoured to speak at a reception in Parliament celebrating this centenary, alongside Keir Starmer and our Welsh Labour deputy leader Carolyn Harris.
My full speech is here:
Thank you, Wayne and welcome, everyone, on behalf of the Shadow Wales team and all our colleagues across the Welsh PLP, to our special celebration this evening. Thank you for joining us.
When I was thinking about what I might say this evening – I thought I’d research what happened in Wales in 1922 as Labour in Wales started on its 100-year journey through 27 general elections.
I’ve only been in Parliament since 2015, and it often feels like we’ve had 27 elections since then, but who knows, there are still 6 months of this year to go – and we might get the opportunity to extend our record in Wales before the year is out.
Anyway – in 1922, Wales beat England 28 points to 6 at Cardiff Arms Park (in Cardiff Central obviously) in the then Five Nations and went on to win the Championship.
A good omen I hope for England’s next visit to the Principality stadium but also for Gareth Bale and the boys when we play England in the World Cup in Qatar on 29th November.
But also in 1922, a Government of Wales Bill was introduced here, and Hansard records that it proposed the devolution of some powers to a new Welsh legislature.
The Bill didn’t get anywhere but 77 years later it was a Labour Government that created what we now call The Senedd, paving the way for our successive Welsh Labour Governments since 1999.
For Labour to have won a majority of seats in every single general election for the past 100 years is a really remarkable achievement.
And I think it reflects Wales’s central role in the history of our Party.
It was a trade unionist from Cardiff Central, James Holmes, who moved the motion at the 1899 TUC Annual Congress calling for the formation of the Labour Representation Committee that led to the creation of the Labour Party.
James Holmes lived in Dogfield Street in Cardiff Central – as did Kevin Brennan but not in 1899 – and was the organising secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, a predecessor of the RMT Union.
And James Holmes was central in the early 1900s to the Taff Vale Railway dispute, one of the landmark trade union and labour law cases, which topically, was about employing replacement staff on the railway to cover the work of striking union members.
Grant Shapps never comes up with an original idea.
I mention the Taff Vale case because tonight’s celebration has been sponsored by the brilliant trade union law firm Thompsons, and it’s really good to see Catherine Cladingbowl here who runs Thompsons in Wales, Amanda Jones from the Llanelli office and Tom Jones from the London office. Thompsons celebrated its centenary last year.
I have to declare an interest because I worked at Thompsons for nearly thirty years before being elected.
But I’m not the only one – Thompsons was once described as a “candidate factory for the Labour Party.”
At one point we nearly had more ex-Thompsons Labour MPs than the entirety of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party – A badge of honour I think.
So thank you to Thompsons for helping us to make tonight’s celebration possible.
And although it seems likely that we will be fighting the next general election on 32 rather than 40 parliamentary seats in Wales following the current Boundary Review, I know that members and trade unionists the length and breadth of Wales will continue, as they have done in every general election for the past century, to mobilise, campaign, listen and engage with people in Wales so that they again put their trust in the Labour Party, put their trust in Keir to lead a Government based on security, prosperity and respect, for Wales and the whole of the United Kingdom.
There is nothing we want to see more, than both Mark leading our Welsh Labour Government in the Senedd and Keir in Number 10 leading a UK Labour Government in Parliament.
And we’re all looking forward to hearing from both Mark and Keir tonight.