A big change has happened for the Labour party with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the UK party. Clearly, the ideological space that he is taking the party into is the left of the political spectrum with an interest in a range of areas including quality public services, accessible housing for all and improving the lives of those living in poverty. Not for a long time has there been this clear division ideologically between the two biggest London parties with contrasting views on the market solutions to problems in society and the role of government.
With the UK Labour party now operating in the left ideologically, the Labour parties in Scotland and Wales are likely to have more in common with it. As the National Assembly elections approach in May 2016, Labour in Wales will seek to capitalise on the success of its policies in Wales which have not promoted market solutions or significantly reduced public services in ways that have happened under the coalition in England. These will include the rejection of academy schools and the wide scale contracting out of local government services. Coping with less public resources year on year will be blamed on the London Government.
An interesting issue will be the impact of Labour’s re-emphasised position in Wales on parties such as Plaid Cymru which also operate in the left ideologically. Politicians might have watched the election night disaster for Labour in Scotland in May 2015 of this year and wondered if it could happen in Wales. Could Plaid Cymru have the same success in Wales in the May 2016 elections?
With its reignited position in the left ideologically, my view is that Labour will continue to be strong in Wales. Supported by the UK party and its left wing focus, Labour will be in a better position to sell its policies to the people of Wales. Having the same UK and Wales policy agenda and putting this to the electorate leaves Labour in Wales in a strong position.
The big question is – has Jeremy Corbyn saved the Labour party in Wales?