Last tango in Llandudno

Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales
@NickServinion Twitter

image captionNick and Carwyn Jones after the first minister's speech to the conference

The sun is shining so where better place to post my final blog as political editor than in Llandudno.

And there was an end to an era feel to events here when Carwyn Jones addressed the annual conference of the Wales TUC for the final time before he stands down in December.

He was returning to the scene where six weeks ago he stunned the audience at the Welsh Labour conference by announcing his departure.

Since then he has looked increasingly relaxed but I am not sure that was shared by the union leaders in the audience who potentially face being overwhelmed by the tidal wave of support for one-member-one-vote to elect the new leader.

They fear this waters down their influence.

What they would like to see is a quid pro quo offer of changing the electoral college section so that Labour AMs and MPs no longer have a disproportionately high say.

In other words, use the elected politicians as sacrificial lambs to retain their influence.


It would appear that all roads are heading in the direction of a special conference for the party in September to potentially change the rules.

A decision will be made at a meeting of Labour's Welsh executive committee on 9 June but the chair of Welsh Labour, Margaret Thomas, told me she believed it was something party members wanted.

Margaret Thomas is from Unison, one of the big three.

Another of the trio, the GMB, admits it is heading in that direction although Andy Richards, who will be stepping down as the head of Unite in Wales in December, has taken a more defiant position.

As he told me, he has been coming to these conferences since 1981 and is going to fight anything which involves the unions losing influence.

image captionCarwyn Jones has looked increasingly relaxed in recent weeks

What does it all mean for the leadership race? There is of course only one candidate so far, Mark Drakeford, and many believe that if there is a move to one member one vote it puts him in an untouchable position in the contest in the autumn.

I am told the candidates were not encouraged to attend the conference - the TUC is determined to keep its independence - but that didn't prevent the Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, from dropping in to press the flesh while en route to visiting a hospital nearby.

How convenient, and how handy it would be for him if the unions really do hold firm and resist the push to OMOV.

Changing guard

A final thought: the key question here is whether there is a mismatch between the union leaders and their members?

I have put together two television reports on this issue in recent weeks and on both occasions, including today, virtually every union member I spoke to supported one member one vote, despite the views of the leadership.

Final final thought: a big thanks for all the kind messages from so many people after I announced I would be leaving the political beat for the Wales Today studio.

My successor will come in at a fascinating time as we witness the rare event of the changing of the guard at the top of Welsh politics.