• Friday, July 12, 2024


Vaughan Gething becomes first black leader of Wales

Gething won the Welsh Labour Party leadership contest

Vaughan Gething. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

VAUGHAN GETHING won the Welsh Labour party leadership contest on Saturday (16), marking a historic moment as he is set to become the first black leader of the country’s semi-autonomous government.

Gething, 50, will succeed Mark Drakeford, 69, who announced in December that he was stepping down.

The new leader said he would have “the honour of becoming the first black leader in any European country” when he becomes Welsh first minister next week.

“Today, we turn a page in the book of our nation’s history. A history we write together,” he told Labour party members in Cardiff.

Labour heads the devolved administration in Cardiff and Gething is expected to be sworn in on Wednesday (20).

“His appointment as first minister of Wales, the first black leader in the UK, will be an historic moment that speaks to the progress and values of modern-day Wales,” UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said in a statement.

Also congratulating Gething on the win, prime minister Rishi Sunak said on social media that he was committed to working together constructively.

Gething was born in Zambia to a white father from Wales and a black Zambian mother.

Once he takes office, the leaders of three of the UK’s four governments will be non-white.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak is of Indian descent, while the parents of Scotland’s pro-independence first minister Humza Yousaf migrated from Pakistan.

Drakeford’s departure will herald the latest political transition in the UK.

Yousaf took office last year while Michelle O’Neill made history last month by becoming Northern Ireland’s first Irish nationalist leader.

Opinion polls tip Starmer to succeed Sunak, a Tory, as UK prime minister following an election due this year.

Drakeford has been first minister since December 2018, and seen four UK prime ministers come and go.

His tenure was dominated by the effects of austerity policies of the Tory government in London, then Brexit and the Covid pandemic.

Drakeford’s regular televised appearances throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and his cautious approach to lifting restrictions, boosted his prominence among the Welsh public.

But his popularity slumped after he refused to back down on a decision to impose lower speed limits in built-up areas.

In 1998, Tony Blair’s Labour government devolved a number of powers, including healthcare, transport and social policies, from London to new legislatures in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The UK government sets policies for England, and retains control over countrywide issues such as foreign policy and defence.


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