Welsh Labour's huge nervousness about Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn asked the prime minister questions people had emailed to him

It's been an extraordinary week for Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster. At the other end of the M4, events have been viewed with intense interest, above all by Labour.

A few things are beginning to become clearer about the impact in Wales, but not much. There's still huge nervousness in Welsh Labour. Even if people are not entirely opposed to him, there's still concern about how it's going to play out. There's also real sensitivity about criticising him, because they know an attack on him is an indirect attack on the majority of the membership.

Jeremy Corbyn is due to come to Wales once a month until the assembly election in May. Presumably he'll be used in the heartland seats, to try to shore up the core vote and possibly help persuade disaffected Labour voters not to vote for UKIP, in the way many of them did in the general election.

His visits will also generate some razzmatazz for the Labour campaign. There'll be a buzz about a Corbyn visit, which campaign organisers can in theory use to their advantage. The Conservatives think the same as well, with the Welsh leader Andrew RT Davies saying this week he hoped Jeremy Corbyn is in Wales every day of the campaign.

As I said, presumably we'll be more likely to see him places like the Rhondda, rather than Cardiff North, but we'll have to see how Welsh Labour use him. One Labour AM told me he didn't want to see him anywhere near his constituency, but there'll be no shortages of invitations to Cardiff West and Pontypridd, judging by the conversations I had with the Labour AMs Mark Drakeford and Mick Antoniw, who are big fans of his.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Corbyn's decision not to sing the national anthem has attracted attention

In terms of policy, there'll be no change. The former Welsh government minister John Griffiths, another big fan of Corbyn, has called for a Labour assembly manifesto to reflect the spirit of Corbyn's radicalism, but I've been told in no uncertain terms that there'll be no lurch to the left in Wales.

The party here says many of its policies are already in line with the direction he wants to take the party anyway, but I'm told also there'll be no watering down of the pro-business policies that Carwyn Jones has spent a lot of his time as first minister fostering.

Of Jeremy Corbyn's big ticket political views on trident, NATO and the EU, it was his apparent reluctance to commit to remaining in the EU which would undoubtedly have caused most trouble for the Welsh party. I suspect his latest comments, saying he can't envisage pulling out, will have been met with a sigh of relief among Labour party officials all over the UK.

Vested interest

I did a short interview with the first minister on Monday, which I judged to be a textbook example of saying everything he needed to say with about as little enthusiasm as he could get away with. To be fair, Carwyn Jones came out pretty strongly against anyone in the party thinking of causing trouble, saying they'd be mad to do so, but he has a huge vested interest in the party keeping a lid on internal dissent until May.

He expressed disagreement on a number of policy areas. In years gone by, political differences between Labour in Cardiff and London were a huge story but it's a sign of the times that now the first minister joins the queue with many in Corbyn's cabinet.

The new leader is unlike any the party has had in recent years, and by definition his impact is more important in Wales than anywhere because it's the only part of the UK where the party is in power.

I'll be exploring this in more detail in a special Week In Week Out on Wednesday next week, just days before Labour members prepare for their first annual conference with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm.