A campaign for change — Alun Davies AM
I launched this campaign above Tredegar at the Nye Bevan memorial. It is where I started my own personal journey. I believe that we need to rediscover the spirit of Nye Bevan and reinvent a new Bevanism for the 21st century. We all feel and share the anger that Nye felt over poverty and how it destroys lives and communities. But Bevan also brought those values and principles to life and used that anger to fashion a political and not simply a rhetorical response. And that is our challenge today.
My manifesto (alundaviesam.wordpress.com) describes my own vision for a new democracy which is rooted in an optimism and belief that together we can renew and reinvent Welsh Labour.
Fundamentally I believe that we need radical change because our politics is broken and that our democracy is facing a real existential crisis. To confront and defeat austerity needs determination, courage and a vision for transformative change. This is not a time for gimmicks or soundbites or for more of the same.
Too many people believe that devolution and the National Assembly are immune from the international crises facing democratic politics across the West. I believe that democratic government in Wales is facing a real crisis of confidence and one which may even lead to a crisis of legitimacy unless it is urgently addressed.
Since I launched this debate we have seen UKIP’s words of hatred and venom generate attacks on the Muslim community. This is a xenophobia and a chauvinism that should have no place in our national life. But at the same time in our own party the stain of antisemitism has undermined our ability to take on such bigotry and intolerance. Under my leadership Welsh Labour will act with a unquestionable moral authority to confront and defeat alt right populism. And to defeat it we need to win hearts and minds and not just elections.
And in launching this campaign for change I am not proposing incremental or gradual change or a difference in emphasis. It is about asking hard and sometimes uncomfortable questions. I do not seek easy slogans or lazy populism — telling people what I think they want to hear — this is about challenging ourselves today so that we are better able to serve and to reinvent ourselves for new challenges in the future.
We have succeeded in defending Wales from the worst of Tory austerity and we have created a Welsh politics unthinkable two generations ago. But to sit back and point at our record is the worst possible response to the political, social and economic change that we are witnessing today.
The vote to leave the EU in constituencies such as mine in Blaenau Gwent was driven by many factors but I believe the referendum was a referendum on our politics and how we do politics as much as it was a referendum on the EU. It may have been a vote against Brussels but it was certainly a vote of no confidence in Welsh and UK politics. And this is the emergency that we need to address — restoring trust and confidence in politics as a means of making and creating change. And politics as a means of ending austerity. We will not be taken seriously on social justice unless we address these fundamental issues.
So my priority in this campaign is to make the case for that change to our politics and change to the way in which we govern our country. And this change will be rooted in my values of democracy and equality. I believe in the power of democracy as a force to empower our citizens and drive changes throughout government, the way in which we deliver public services and the way in which we manage our economy. And equality is how we achieve real social justice for all our citizens. It is my belief that equality will provide the test for all our politics.
And these values of democracy and equality will drive a policy agenda to address the three key and fundamental issues facing us as a country — how we eradicate poverty and its impact on generations of people in Wales; combatting climate change, and thirdly, Europe. I believe that Brexit is the greatest disaster facing Wales today. It is not a technical issue which requires technical solutions. It is a matter of who we are as a people and our principles as a party.
These values and principles represent my strong and compelling beliefs which will drive and underpin any government that I lead and decisions that we take. Too often in Welsh Labour we spend too much time explaining why things cannot happen. We can be imprisoned by process and held hostage by our past. Bevan was a creative, imaginative and far-sighted political leader. We need the same energetic, dynamic and vibrant leadership today.
Alun Davies is the Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent.