A seat at the top table?

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By Keith Edwards, Lead Associate, HQN Cymru

One of the five campaign pledges by the odds-on favourite to become the next First Minister is to give housing a full cabinet post.

The permutations are normally complex – this is a Labour Party election after all. But the contest to succeed Carwyn Jones – the first under one member one vote – is very simple. Forget block votes and electoral colleges: should Mark Drakeford secure the support of a majority of Welsh Labour members he will become leader of the party on Saturday 8 December.

Of course, he still has to secure the support of Assembly members to become Wales’ next First Minister. But with the backing of Labour AM colleagues and two non-labour ministers, he would just about have the numbers to take that crown too. Certainly the bookies think he’s a shoe-in – Ladbrokes have him at 8 to 1 on to get the top job.

If Mark Drakeford wins, Wales will become the only country in the UK with a seat at the top table reserved exclusively for housing. As far as I can ascertain, the last time a housing minister sat as a full member of a British cabinet was 6 October 1969, though I stand to be corrected. And that secretary of state, Tony Greenwood, also had responsibilities for local government.

So, it may be time to get a little excited. The real prize will be the chance to fashion a national housing strategy and to have that at the top and centre of government in Wales. Watch this space.

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