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Drakeford vows to be ‘radical’ as Labour equals best ever Senedd election result

·3-min read

Mark Drakeford has vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government as his party remains in power in Wales.

Labour has equalled its best ever Senedd election result by winning 30 seats – just one short of a majority – though it did not take any of the four regional seats declared on Saturday.

With the final results in, the Welsh Conservatives have 16 seats, while Plaid Cymru has 13 and the Liberal Democrats have one.

Mr Drakeford can now choose whether to form a minority government or invite members of other parties into a Labour-led administration, giving the party greater control of the Senedd.

Welsh Labour put the “extraordinary set of results” down to Mr Drakeford’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the First Minister’s cautious and careful approach go down well with voters.

Asked if he planned to continue his cautious brand of politics during a new administration, Mr Drakeford told the PA news agency: “Well, absolutely as far as coronavirus is concerned. The pandemic has not gone away.

“A government I lead will continue to follow the science to do what our medical advisers tell us we should do, and that does mean doing things in a way that continues to keep Wales safe.

“But on other matters, our manifesto is a radical manifesto with a host of ideas that are ambitious for Wales.

“I’ll be very keen to ensure that we give that the most powerful sense of momentum behind it to get those things happening here in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford returned to Labour’s offices in Cardiff for reserved celebrations after Friday’s night of constituency results gave the party 27 seats.

He visited Porthcawl, Bridgend, on Saturday afternoon to make a speech to party members.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds, who won a regional seat in Mid and West Wales after her party lost the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency to the Conservatives, said she has yet to be approached by Mr Drakeford to help form the next government.

Welsh parliament elections
(PA Graphics)

She told BBC Radio Cymru: “I need to speak to other people within the party and we shall have to see.”

The Welsh Conservatives said they had secured the party’s “best ever result” in a Senedd election, winning 16 seats.

This included taking the Vale of Clwyd from Labour, and Brecon and Radnorshire from the Liberal Democrats.

Andrew RT Davies, Senedd leader for the Welsh Conservatives, said he was “delighted” to have secured those constituency seats as well as an increased number of seats on the regional list.

“It’s been an unconventional campaign and it’s clear incumbency and continuity has played a significant part,” Mr Davies said.

Counting in the Welsh Senedd elections at the Cardiff City House of Sport
Counting in the Welsh Senedd elections at the Cardiff City House of Sport (Ben Birchall/PA)

He congratulated Mr Drakeford and Welsh Labour on a successful campaign and said the election had been fought “in good spirit” by political parties across Wales.

Plaid Cymru now has 13 seats in the Welsh Parliament, though high-profile former leader Leanne Wood lost her Rhondda seat to Labour.

On her Facebook page, Ms Wood said the result was “disappointing” but that her team could “hold our heads high in the knowledge that we ran a clean and honest campaign, we did not denigrate our opponents and we worked hard”.

Polling at the start of the campaign suggested Labour was facing its worst ever result and was at risk of winning as few as 22 of the Senedd’s 60 seats, a loss of seven from 2016, though later polls suggested a stronger showing.