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Betsan Powys | 11:51 UK time, Monday, 19 October 2009

You get the feeling the Albert Matthews suite in the pine clad lodge of the Celtic Manor has never before been the scene of a speech that says "Let Labour be Labour." You wonder what the response would be on the immaculate greens outside, or amongst those who've in the past stood there to celebrate winning the "Celtic Fourball" or "The Golden Balls" to a suggestion that the Ryder Cup in 2011 should be used as a shop window to show case social policy. They may heed the call to arms and battle for "a proper living wage for contract workers." They may not.

Huw Lewis, the leadership contender who say the two biggest unions plump for his two opponents over the weekend, hopes ordinary Labour members will like what they hear.

He launched his manifesto this morning and sounded more than one warning.

Labour has gone backwards in three elections now. Fact.

Now comes the metaphor and Huw Lewis' take on why.

When you hit rough water he said, "more of the same" - and yes, take that as a reference to his opponents, Mr Jones perhaps more so than Mrs Hart in this instance - simply means drifting and plunging over the edge: "change must come."

And if change is to come, the party - no, the movement - must be listened to. He didn't use the words 'union stitch-up' but I did and here was his response in full:

"I've got great faith in the Labour movement as a whole. The Labour movement is more than the Labour Party. One of the things that I'm trying to promote through this campaign is a proper conversation beween the wings of the movement. I just hope the lines of communication stay open. We are in tough times and unless the movement holds together over the next few years we'll pay the price for that. So I want to see open doors and open minds. That's all I'm asking".

He's referring to this story that makes the front page of the Western Mail. His opponents - and on this occasion take it as a reference to Mrs Hart more so than Mr Jones - might suggest that what he's really referring to is the fact that the biggest unions have not given him their support.

On Saturday the political leadership of Unite voted 25 for Edwina Hart, 3 for Carwyn Jones, 0 for Huw Lewis. Mrs Hart also has the support of the leaders of Community and the Communication Workers Unions. Unison members are being encouraged to support Carwyn Jones.

Huw Lewis has the support of the Co-operative party. He must appeal to the grassroots, to the individual members or he loses.

If the block vote still existed, Mrs Hart would be laughing. It doesn't. It's up to members whether and how they vote. Not even the most influential leader of the tailor and garment makers union should be able to stitch this one up.

But everyone, clearly, is not convinced.


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