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LEFTWINGERS across the country were celebrating today as Corbyn supporter Mark Drakeford won the race for the new leader of the Welsh Labour party and is set to become the next First Minister of Wales.
His election means that England, Scotland and Wales now all have socialist Labour leaders.
The Finance Secretary beat Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan in the leadership election that was held to appoint a successor to Carwyn Jones.
Mr Drakeford won 53.9 per cent of the vote, Labour officials announced at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
In his speech, he said that Labour in Wales will do “everything it can” to get the party into power in Westminster.
He added that Labour will follow “radical socialist traditions” in the style of Aneurin Bevan, Michael Foot and Rhodri Morgan – the latter of which he was an adviser to.
Mr Drakeford is a long-time supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the only Welsh cabinet member to have voted for him to be leader in 2015.
Mr Corbyn congratulated him, saying: “As leader and as First Minister, I am confident that Mark will demonstrate what Labour in government can achieve by building a more equal society, even in the face of the Conservatives’ callous austerity agenda and cuts to the Welsh budget.
“I know Mark will relentlessly fight for the interests of the Welsh people and stand up to the Tories’ chronic underinvestment in Wales compared to other parts of the UK, particularly London.”
He will be confirmed as First Minister after Mr Jones tenders his resignation to the Queen next Tuesday via email, after announcing in April that he would be standing down.
Around 175,000 people were given the right to vote in the leadership election through their Welsh Labour membership and through trade unions affiliated with the party.
Mr Drakeford was the frontrunner in the race after receiving the most nominations from his party’s Assembly Members and the most support from Welsh Labour constituencies. His campaign was also backed by Momentum.
Trade union Unite, which also backed Mr Drakeford in the campaign, “warmly welcomed” his win and said he ran a “positive and inspirational election campaign.”
Regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “His experience at the highest levels of government will be invaluable as he seeks to guide Wales through the fog and uncertainty of Brexit created by a UK Tory government in perpetual crisis.”
National Education Union Cymru secretary David Evans welcomed his appointment and added that his role is a “truly critical one for education in Wales.”
He urged Mr Drakeford to place the securing of more funding from the Westminster government high on his list of priorities to “deliver a service which meets the expectations of learners, parents, carers and the wider community.”
Mr Drakeford also received messages of congratulations from environmental and anti-nuclear groups.
The Campaign against Nuclear Disarmament said: “Congratulations to Mark Drakeford on becoming the new First Minister of Wales. We welcome your comments on nuclear power and nuclear weapons and we look forward to working with you.”
WWF Cymru tweeted “Congratulations to new @WelshLabour leader @MarkDrakeford. He has shown great commitment to tackling nature’s decline in his manifesto and we look forward to working with him to achieve this.”
His election follows a turbulent year in Welsh politics marked by the death of former minister Carl Sargeant – who was found dead in November 2017, days after Mr Jones sacked him from his cabinet over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women.
When he announced his resignation, Mr Jones said he had been through the “darkest of times.”
Mr Drakeford is likely to be first minister until the next assembly elections in 2021, but the Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies is calling for an early vote.
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