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Vaughan Gething to become Welsh First Minister after Labour leadership victory

VAUGHAN GETHING, aged 50, is set to become the first black leader of a European country following his election as the new head of Welsh Labour, leading to his impending confirmation as the First Minister of Wales next week. Gething, who has previously served as both the Health and Economy Minister in the Labour-led government, succeeds Mark Drakeford after a victorious campaign against Education Minister Jeremy Miles.

In his victory speech, Gething outlined a bold agenda for Wales, promising enhancements to the Welsh NHS, prioritising green jobs for economic future, and committing to the development of more homes, reliable transport systems, elevated education standards, and an elevated position for Wales on the global stage. Winning 51.7% of the vote, Gething remarked on the historic nature of his victory, not only for the significant racial milestone it represents but also for the “generational dial jump” it signifies for Welsh governance and devolution.

Highlighting the resilience and unity of the Welsh people, especially during challenging times such as the miners’ strike in the 1980s, Gething pledged to continue fighting for the underdog. He also commended his competitor, Jeremy Miles, for his openness about personal struggles, noting it would inspire confidence across Wales.

Gething swiftly shifted focus towards the upcoming general election, criticising the Conservative Party for its perceived indifference towards the younger generation and expressing confidence in Labour’s ability to dislodge the Tories from office through unity and opposition to divisive forces.

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the UK Labour Party, congratulated Gething, noting his election and forthcoming appointment as First Minister as historic milestones reflective of Wales’s progressive values and the promise of a hopeful, ambitious government in contrast to the current administration at Westminster.

However, Gething faces significant challenges ahead, including uniting the Welsh Labour Party after a contentious leadership battle, addressing the cost of living crisis, and tackling issues left by Drakeford such as controversial speed limits and environmental policies, amidst concerns raised over a substantial campaign donation and the legitimacy of union support.

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The leadership announcement was made at Cardiff University’s new sbarc building, with Welsh Labour reporting a 16.1% overall turnout among members and affiliates. The event also served as a platform for affirming the start of a new era for Labour in Wales, with expectations set on the general election and the potential for a united Labour government across Britain.