Former minister: leadership election 'shambolic'

David Cornock
Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

image captionKim Howells: the Labour leadership election is a "total shambles"

Seven Welsh MPs were among the 48 Labour MPs who rebelled against the party's leadership in last night's vote on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Ann Clwyd, Geraint Davies, Paul Flynn, Carolyn Harris, Gerald Jones, Madeleine Moon and Jo Stevens all defied the whip to vote against the Bill rather than abstain.

The name of Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, deputy to Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, appeared on a rebel amendment but she abstained and remains on the frontbench.

Another potential rebel, Aberavon's Stephen Kinnock, abstained.

Speaking before the vote, Labour former minister Kim Howells gave his own take on his party's leadership election.

"Total shambles," he told me on Radio Wales. "I'm afraid really don't know what anyone believes anymore who is there at the top of the Labour Party.

"I fear that we've done it the wrong way round. What we should have decided what was what Labour actually believes in, what its message is, where it goes from here and maybe we should have decided who is closest to that in terms of choosing a leader but we are doing it as usual in a shambolic way and I fear for the future of the party.

"I think it is the most serious crisis I can remember in Labour's history."

I asked him who he would be voting for. "I'm not going to vote for any of them at the moment. I don't know what they believe. Some people I think will simply lead Labour to a terrible defeat again.

"I don't think that many of the people who stood even concede that we got things wrong last time. Some of them are daft enough to think we weren't left wing enough.

"God knows how they even arrived at that but there we are."

Kim Howells - not one of those politicians often accused of sitting on the fence.