Welsh Labour to go it alone, says Carwyn Jones

Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones explains why his party will rule alone despite falling short of an overall majority in the Assembly elections.

Welsh Labour will go it alone to form a government in the assembly, party leader Carwyn Jones has confirmed.

He reached out to other parties, saying he wanted to work with them on the assembly government's budget and legislation.

Labour fell one seat short of the outright majority it wanted at last week's assembly election.

Mr Jones said Labour had clearly won with 30 of the 60 seats, but would act without "political tribalism".

Labour was in coalition with Plaid Cymru for the four years of the previous assembly, and has been talking to other parties this week and over the weekend.

'Fresh perspectives'

Start Quote

It was patently clear that the will of the people of Wales was that the next Welsh government should be Labour-led”

End Quote Carwyn Jones AM Welsh Labour leader

Flanked by his Labour AMs, Mr Jones read a statement to the media in the Senedd following a meeting of the party's assembly group.

He said: "As a result of these discussions I will seek to form a government later this week consisting solely of Labour ministers.

"However in doing this I want to make something absolutely clear. We will do this without any triumphalism and with no trace of any political tribalism."

He said Labour would not pretend it held all the answers. The recent election showed all four main political parties produced manifestos "that were full of new ideas and fresh perspectives".

Mr Jones said the cross-party Yes campaign for the referendum on the assembly's law-making powers in March showed opponents could work together.

Analysis

Labour dearly wanted an outright majority, but the assembly's electoral system makes majorities very elusive.

After failing to win a majority in the assembly in 2007, it took Labour three weeks to form a minority government and another two months to seal a coalition deal with Plaid.

Having failed to win a majority last week, Labour has waited less than a week to say it will form a minority government.

Meanwhile, talks with opposition parties will continue in a spirit of humility. Carwyn Jones heaped praise on the "fresh perspectives" in his opponents' manifestos on Tuesday.

He struck a very different tone from his predecessor Rhodri Morgan who four years ago summed up potential coalition partners Plaid and the Liberal Democrats as a choice between the "unpalatable and the inedible".

Things have moved a lot quicker this time around than in 2007. It means a stable government could be in place much sooner.

Discussions with other parties about what role they will take will continue over coming weeks and months, but Mr Jones said that the opposition parties needed time to consider what the electorate had said to them.

"It was patently clear that the will of the people of Wales was that the next Welsh government should be Labour-led," he said of last week's election result, when Labour increased its tally of seats by four.

The first plenary session of the whole assembly will take place on Wednesday afternoon when AMs will be asked to choose a presiding officer and first minister.

Plaid AM Lord Elis-Thomas has done the job since the assembly was established in 1999, but it is understood Labour will nominate Newport West AM Rosemary Butler for the role. The Conservatives, the second biggest party, want the post filled by one of their members.

The Tories' interim leader in the assembly, Paul Davies, said: "It is now absolutely essential that Labour follows its own advice and focuses on 'delivery' for the people of Wales.

"Under Labour, we have had nothing but missed targets and empty promises.

"That poor legacy has got to end and as the official opposition in the national assembly Welsh Conservatives will make sure our country is put first."

Carwyn Jones says there will be no 'triumphalism or tribalism' from his party.

Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones - who served as deputy first minister in the previous coalition government - said that as the largest party, Labour had a "moral obligation" to form an administration.

"We have made it clear that should Labour talk to us, then we are prepared to listen," he said.

"In the short term Plaid Cymru will play its part in ensuring that the Welsh people have an honest opposition.

"We will hold the government to account and the electorate can be sure that we will always seek to ensure the best deal for the people of Wales."

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said: "The stability in government that Carwyn Jones seeks will only be possible if parties work together, put aside their differences and seek to find consensus, and that means give and take from all parties.

"The priority of the Welsh Liberal Democrats now will be to work to advance the policies that we have fought this election on.

"It is clear that Wales is suffering from a weak economy and serious failings in our schools and NHS. Where Labour proposes serious answers to these problems, they will have our support."

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