2018 Welsh Labour Party leadership election

The 2018 Welsh Labour Party leadership election took place between 9 November and 6 December 2018 to elect a successor to Carwyn Jones as leader of the Welsh Labour Party.

Welsh Labour Party leadership election, 2018

 2009 9 November – 6 December 2018
Candidate Mark Drakeford Vaughan Gething Eluned Morgan
First Round 46.9% 30.8% 22.3%
Second Round 53.9% 41.4%

Leader before election

Carwyn Jones

Elected Leader

Mark Drakeford

Carwyn Jones, who had led Welsh Labour since 2009, announced his intention to resign at the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno in April 2018. He stated that he would stand down in autumn 2018, and that he would continue to lead the party until then.[1]


Ahead of the election, Drakeford and Morgan argued in favour of changing the voting system to one member one vote.[2][3][4] Four trade unions—GMB, Unison, Usdaw and the CWU—supported the continuation of an electoral college, whilst Unite supported changing to one member one vote.[5][6]

A special conference held on 15 September decided that the system that will be used for the election will be by one member one vote+. This means that the votes of party members and members of affiliated organisations who vote carried the same weight. The decision by the special conference followed a consultation that was carried out by Lord Murphy.[7][8]

Ballot papers were sent out to members on 9 November by email, or by post for those who did not have an email address. They had until 3 December to return their vote. A preferential voting system was used.

The result of the election was announced on 6 December, with Carwyn Jones scheduled to formally resign as First Minister of Wales the following week. His resignation will trigger a vote of all Assembly Members to elect his successor as First Minister.

Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Kirsty Williams had joined Welsh Labour in government following the 2016 assembly election as Cabinet Secretary for Education. She said that she would stay on in post if the same terms were available as those agreed with Carwyn Jones when she joined the government.[9]

Former Plaid Cymru AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas left his party in October 2016 to support the Labour-led government, and joined the government as Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport in November 2017. This gave the government side a majority of 31 out of the 60 Assembly Members.

All three candidates in the election indicated they would wish for Williams and Elis-Thomas to remain in the government.


  • 27 September – Nominations opened
  • 3 October – Nominations closed
  • 9 November – Ballot papers were despatched
  • 6 December – Winner announced[10]
  • 11 December – Formal resignation of First Minister
  • 12 December – Vote in the Senedd to elect a new First Minister


In order to become a candidate, individuals required 20% of current Labour AMs to nominate them. This equated to six AMs, including themselves.[11]

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford was the first candidate to declare he was standing, shortly after Jones announced he would be stepping down. He immediately securing the support of seven other AMs, ensuring he would be on the ballot.[12] A further nine AMs later announced they were nominating Drakeford, giving him the support of a majority of the Labour Group. He has the backing of Momentum, a group supportive of national leader Jeremy Corbyn, and has been described as both a "Corbynist" and as a pragmatist.[12][13] Drakeford started the election as the favourite, though academic Roger Awan-Scully suggested that he may not necessarily remain the frontrunner.[12][14]

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething announced his candidacy on 25 May, with the support of four members of the Assembly, putting himself one nomination short of becoming a candidate.[15] He later achieved the required number of endorsements when Ann Jones announced she would nominate him on 10 August.[16]

Minister for Welsh Language & Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan announced her intention to run on 11 June 2018, declaring herself to be a 'centre-left candidate'.[17] She didn't receive any further nominations until Huw Irranca-Davies and Alun Davies, who had wanted to stand for the leadership but received no public support from other AMs, withdrew and nominated her. Two other AMs also nominated her, putting her one nomination short of the six required.[18] After Gething received sufficient nominations, he asked that no further AMs nominate him, but instead nominate a female candidate.[19] He suggested that Drakeford himself could nominate Morgan to ensure diversity in the election.[20] National party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for diversity in the choices offered to Welsh Labour members.[21] On 24 September, at the Labour Conference in Liverpool, Carwyn Jones said that if necessary he would nominate Morgan to ensure that there was a woman on the ballot paper, making it clear that he would remain neutral regarding the merit of the candidates.[22]

In addition to nominations from AMs, candidates could receive supporting nominations from Welsh MPs, affiliated trade unions and Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), to be listed alongside the candidates' names on the ballot paper.


Drakeford started the election as the favourite, though academic Roger Awan-Scully cautioned against the assumption that he would go on to win.[12][14] Drakeford said he would act as a "bridge" to a new generation, and that he would stand aside midway through the next term of the Assembly.[23] His early policy proposals included a pilot of universal baby boxes like those used in Finland and Scotland.[24]

In addition to a formal campaign launch in the Ely area of Cardiff at the community centre where he once worked, Drakeford held a second launch at Northop College to announce his plans for North Wales.[25] He also launched a set of economic policy proposals at the North Wales launch, and later held further policy launch events: a social policy launch in Blackwood and an environmental policy launch in Carmarthen.[26][27]

In a speech delivered in his former department at Cardiff University, Drakeford set out the political philosophy he called '21st Century Socialism', in which he suggested the Labour Party in Wales should use its traditional socialist principles to find solutions for the challenges facing modern Wales, such as the housing crisis, climate change and Brexit.[28]

Gething put focus on inter-generational poverty, and committed to improving productivity.[23] He also pledged to create a National Care Service to deliver elderly care free at point of use, funded by tax increases or a new care levy.[29]

Gething faced controversy for creating a group separate to his leadership campaign called Together for Labour, which was accused of being a vehicle to keep data after the end of the leadership campaign.[30] He was also criticised for accepting large campaign donations from a company which had been convicted for environmental infringements, another which is a major property developer in his constituency, and another which is owned by a controversial former local Councillor.[31][32]

Morgan said she would appoint a minister for north Wales, as well as increasing support for the self-employed.[33] She also proposed a universal basic income for Wales, starting by pitching for a pilot to be held in a Welsh community.[34]

Morgan also faced questions about her election expenses, as she did not publicly register any donations to her campaign.[35]

Both Gething and Morgan said they would support a public vote on the final Brexit deal if elected leader, while Drakeford supported the national Labour Party position of only calling for another referendum as a last resort.[36][37]

Candidate endorsements

Candidate Political roles Nominations from AMs Endorsements
Mark Drakeford[38] AM for Cardiff West since 2011

Cabinet Secretary for Finance since 2016

17 / 29
Trade unions
  • Aberconwy
  • Arfon
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Cardiff North
  • Cardiff West
  • Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
  • Ceredigion
  • Clwyd South
  • Clwyd West
  • Cynon Valley
  • Delyn
  • Dwyfor Meirionnydd
  • Gower
  • Islwyn
  • Llanelli
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Neath
  • Pontypridd
  • Rhondda
  • Swansea East
  • Swansea West
  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Ynys Môn
Affiliated Groups
Council leaders
Former AMs & MPs
Unaffiliated groups
Vaughan Gething[13] AM for Cardiff South and Penarth since 2011

Cabinet Secretary for Health & Social Services since 2016

6 / 29
Council leaders
Trade unions
Affiliated groups
  • Welsh Young Labour[69]
  • BAME Labour
  • Torfaen
  • Cardiff South & Penarth
Eluned Morgan[70] AM for Mid and West Wales since 2016

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning since 2017

6 / 29
Council leaders
Former AMs & MPs
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  1. Nominated Eluned Morgan but voting for Vaughan Gething.
  2. Nominated Eluned Morgan but voting for Vaughan Gething.
  3. Nominated Eluned Morgan, will not declare who he is voting for.


Huw Irranca-Davies and Alun Davies withdrew on 18 September 2018 to endorse Eluned Morgan.[20]


Results and turnout

The results were announced at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on 6 December 2018.

Turnout among members was 53.1% (~13,275 votes cast) and among affiliates it was 5.6% (~8,400 votes cast).[75]

See also


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  2. "Drakeford backs one member one vote". 29 June 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. Mosalski, Ruth (12 June 2018). "Eluned Morgan announces she will stand in the contest to succeed Carwyn Jones".
  4. Shipton, Martin (4 May 2018). "Key meeting will shape Welsh Labour leadership battle".
  5. "Unions say one member one vote is wrong for Welsh Labour". ITV News. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  6. "Biggest union backs one member one vote to choose Welsh Labour leader". ITV News. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  7. Shipton, Martin (1 June 2018). "Special conference to decide how Carwyn Jones' successor should be chosen".
  8. "Boost for Mark Drakeford as Welsh Labour changes voting system". ITV News. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  9. "Williams 'would stay in cabinet'". 27 May 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  10. "Race to take over from Carwyn Jones begins". ITV News. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  11. Blake, Aled (4 November 2017). "Welsh Labour agrees new leadership election rules".
  12. "Subscribe to read". Financial Times.
  13. "Gething 'optimistic' on leadership bid". 25 May 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  14. "Stop assuming Mark Drakeford will be the next Welsh first minister". newstatesman.com.
  15. "Labour AMs back Vaughan Gething for Welsh Labour leadership in open letter".
  16. "Adrian Masters on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  17. "Wales - BBC News". BBC News.
  18. "Leadership rivals pull out to back Morgan". BBC News. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  19. "Back a woman, Labour candidate tells AMs". BBC News. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  20. "Labour leadership rivals pull out to back Eluned Morgan". 18 September 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  21. "Corbyn urges diverse Welsh leader contest". BBC News. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
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  23. Davies, Daniel (18 July 2018). "Welsh Labour leader needs 'courage to be different'". BBC News. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  24. "Baby bundle plan for newborns backed". 10 September 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
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  27. Cooper, Jason (29 October 2018). "AM lays out vision for 'A Greener Wales'".
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  36. "'Deal or no deal' Brexit vote call". 6 August 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  37. Williams, James (29 August 2018). "'Too early' to back second EU referendum" via www.bbc.co.uk.
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  42. Mark for Leader/ Mark ein Harweinydd [@mark4leader] (3 July 2018). "Thank you to @RebeccaEvansAM for becoming the ninth AM to support Mark's leadership bid. Diolch yn fair i @RebeccaEvansAM am fod y nawfed AS i gefnogi Mark i fod yn harweinydd Llafur Cymru.‌ t.co/jaoWZl3cKU" (Tweet). Retrieved 5 August 2018 via Twitter.
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  47. "Mark Drakeford AM on Twitter".
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  49. MP, Ian Lucas [@IanCLucas] (26 October 2018). "I will support Mark Drakeford AM for the Labour leadership in Wales.twitter.com/nathanleedavies/status/1055847664787566593" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  50. "Anna McMorrin MP 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🇪🇺 on Twitter".
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  61. Gwyther, Christine (26 October 2018). "Fantastic to see this support for Mark Drakeford from former Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Richard Edwards. #MD4L #C21Socialismpic.twitter.com/NHnIbkbJNx".
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  69. [dead link]
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  71. MP, Tonia Antoniazzi (23 October 2018). "Today I put in my MP nomination for @WelshLabour leader @Eluned_Morgan #Eluned4FM I am so happy to support Eluned after such a battle to get a woman in the ballot paper. Credit to Carwyn for stepping up and giving our members the best selection of candidatespic.twitter.com/vJmOngIM7E".
  72. MP 🇬🇧 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, Gerald Jones (12 October 2018). "Delighted to be supporting @Eluned_Morgan @Em4Fm to be the next leader of @WelshLabour and First Minister. A great candidate with passion and ideas for taking our party forward across #Wales. #PobLwcpic.twitter.com/rXiAnjtlNn".
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  75. Davies, Daniel (6 December 2018). "So about half the 25,000 party members voted. But of the ~150,000 union and affiliates, only 5.6%".