Almost unnoticed outside Welsh Labour has been a ballot to select the candidate for the winnable second place in Labour's Welsh List for the Euro Vote 2014. All 12,000 Labour members in Wales were qualified to vote for either Jayne Bryant (Newport) or Christina Rees (Porthcawl).
It was a fascinating contest spread over months. Candidates adopted different tactics. Jayne used a stamped individually addressed letter to all members. She added personal messages to about 2,000 of the members she had met. A team of volunteers spent periods on telephone canvassing to contact members. Both candidates attended the Hustings arranged by about half of the constituency parties. Christina relied on frequent e-mails with a link to a promotional film. There was some tweeter traffic backing each candidate.
Christina started as a clear favorite with the backing of the party's Establishment including Rhodri Morgan, Wayne David and the Bridgend and Caerphilly parties. Jayne's support was mostly grassroots and from Gwent. As the contest progressed, she attracted increasing support from uncommitted MPs, AMs and mainstream party members.
It was an exhilarating campaign. Party members celebrated an outbreak of democracy in Welsh Labour. I believe this is the first such vote. Members made their own choice free from Establishment pressure. Today's news is that Jayne is the victor. She has emerged as an exciting, fresh, idealistic young force in Welsh politics.
Welsh Labour will field a strong team of four candidates led by experienced MEP Derek Vaughan in first position and very likely to secure a place. Winning two seats for Labour in 2014 is an attainable aim. Jayne is well placed to be elected. The last Euro elections were held when Labour's fortunes hit rock bottom. An average of Labour's poll support over the past year would secure two MEPs for Labour in Wales.
There will be a bonus. The internal election created interest and enthusiasm among the party members in Wales. That will deliver greater enthusiasm for next year's campaign.
Good luck to the team of four!
“Jayne: a future champion for Wales in Europe” - Rt. Hon. Ann Clwyd:
“Likeable, approachable plus steely determination” – Jessica Morden MP
“Jayne has won many new friends. She builds an instant rapport. She will do the same in Europe” – Susan Elan Jones MP
“Jayne is a gifted internationalist and I am confident that she will make her mark for Wales in Europe” – Baroness Eluned Morgan
“Jayne is organised, hard working and always able to see the bigger picture” – Rosemary Butler AMView this photo