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by David Nicholson
SOCIALIST Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford has exclusively told the Morning Star that he has started talks to remove centralised party control over members in Wales.
In an interview for the Star to be published on Monday, the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting First Minister of Wales was asked about the authoritarian approach towards activists the Westminster party has taken under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer and general secretary David Evans.
He said: “I had a good conversation with David at last week’s party conference in Brighton about how devolution inside the party needs to catch-up with devolution at governmental level.
“I think there is a mood within the party in Wales for us to take more responsibility for decisions that apply to members who live in Wales.”
The surprise move by the First Minister followed the party clampdown on internal debate, after the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on allegations of anti-semitism.
Mr Drakeford’s own Cardiff West’s then constituency chair and ally was suspended, with at least eight elected constituency lay officials in Wales having their party membership suspended.
Welsh Labour Grassroots secretary Darren Williams said: “It is interesting to hear that Mark has been talking to David Evans about the possibility of further devolution within the Labour Party.
“There is no doubt that the party is currently very centralised.
“Given the draconian character of the party’s internal regime at UK level, I’m sure that many activists would welcome the idea of the Welsh party taking greater control of the rulebook.
“But devolution will not solve all the problems encountered within the Welsh party, which has its own issues with democracy and political culture.”
Mr Williams said that having a left-wing leader in Wales does not guarantee that the Welsh party would make better decisions.
Mr Drakeford acknowledged that a devolved structure within the Labour Party would take time to develop and would need extra resourcing in Wales.
“What I am keen to do is agree with the UK party that there is a process here and a direction of travel,” Mr Drakeford said.
The full interview with the First Minister for Wales will be in Monday’s Morning Star.
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