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Arguing about further powers for Wales: Welsh Labour’s intra-party conflict

Open Panel

Abstract

May 2011 will see a referendum held in Wales on the question of whether or not direct primary powers should be devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. The leadership of the Labour Party in Wales, as the largest political party in the Principality and one half of the governing ''One Wales'' coalition, officially supports a ''Yes'' vote. The issue of devolving further powers to the Assembly has, however, a long and contentious history with Welsh Labour. Through an analytical focus upon the rhetoric of party actors this paper draws out a basic mapping of the intra-party conflict within Welsh Labour over this issue and how it was articulated over the key period from 2004 to 2007. In so doing it covers the conflicts surrounding such significant moments as the 2004 report of the Richards Commission, the 2005 Better Governance for Wales whitepaper, the Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Labour Party''s decision to enter the ''One Wales'' coalition with the Welsh Nationalists following the 2007 Assembly elections. It concludes that there in an ideological division with Welsh Labour between ''Welsh'' and ''Populist'' ideological tendencies and that this brings with it problems for Labour as a Unionist multi-level party - both in terms of vertical integration in the party and how devolved politics are subsequently framed.