Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones has announced his government, which includes three Labour/Co-op Assembly Members (AMs). Labour remains the largest party in the Assembly, having won 29 of the 60 seats.
The new minority government was announced on 19 May, two weeks after the election, due to a tie in the number of votes between Labour and Plaid Cymru (12 seats). The latter had the backing of the Conservatives (11 seats) and UKIP (7 seats).
The Liberal Democrats secured only one seat on the Assembly, leading to the resignation of their leader in Wales, Kirsty Williams. Even if her vote went to Carwyn Jones, Labour fell short of a majority, needing opposition support to govern.
They were able to reach an agreement with Plaid Cymru on 17 May, after the National Party of Wales had withdrawn Ms Wood’s nomination for the First Minister position. AMs had until 1 June to nominate a first minister or face another election. Ms Williams has been given the job of cabinet secretary for education, being the only Liberal Democrat AM in the Senedd.
Labour/Co-op AM Vaughan Gething has been promoted to cabinet for first time as cabinet secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport. Health spending accounts for nearly half of the Welsh government’s budget, with a total expenditure of £5.8bn. Mr Gething is a former Welsh deputy minister for tackling poverty. In an interview with Co-op News in 2013 he argued that there was potential for mutuals to play a much bigger role across social services, making sure that users’ voices are heard. The Labour government also announced it would seek to establish a parliamentary review into the long-term future of health and social care in Wales.
Another Labour/Co-op AM, Alun Davies is also joining the government’s team as minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language. He has been a member of the Welsh Assembly since 2007 and has had various ministerial roles.
Labour/Co-op AM for Gower, Rebecca Evans will also take on the role of minister for Social Services and Public Health. She has served as a regional AM since 2011 and in 2014 she joined the Welsh government as deputy minister for Farming and Food. In the run-up to the election, she pledged to engage with social enterprises across her constituency and promote and support the work of credit unions.
Commenting on the recent elections in Wales, Derek Walker, chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre said he welcomed the widespread support for co-ops and mutuals across political parties in their election manifestos. “This is important as there is a minority government. It is pleasing to see the new Labour government’s continued commitment to supporting specialist business advice to co-ops and social enterprises as well as to maintaining financial support for co-op housing.”