Labour hold on to power in Wales with Mark Drakeford set to continue as First Minister

8 May 2021, 14:02 | Updated: 8 May 2021, 14:53

Mark Drakeford will continue as Welsh First Minister as Labour holds on to power in Wales
Mark Drakeford will continue as Welsh First Minister as Labour holds on to power in Wales. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Mark Drakeford will continue as Welsh First Minister as the Labour Party holds on to power, despite not winning an outright majority.

Saturday's outcome matches the party's best-ever result of 30 out of a possible 60 seats after it was announced that all counts had been declared.

The Welsh Conservatives finished in second with 16, Plaid Cymru in third with 13 seats, and there was one sole Liberal Democrat elected.

UKIP lost all seven of their seats in a wipeout for the party.

Mr Drakeford's Welsh Labour avoided the kind of electoral drubbing endured by Sir Keir Starmer on Friday, holding on to its "red wall" seats in the north.

In stark contrast to the party's performance in England, Labour enjoyed a successful ballot and missed out on a Senedd majority by just a single seat.

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Labour won 30 seats in the Senedd while the Tories won 16
Labour won 30 seats in the Senedd while the Tories won 16. Picture: LBC

The Welsh First Minister has vowed to be "radical" and "ambitious" in government as his party continues in power in Wales.

Mr Drakeford, who extended the majority for his Cardiff West seat by more than 10,000 votes, said he was delighted his party had "exceeded expectations".

The Welsh FM can choose 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 Friday's "extraordinary set of results" down to Mr Drakeford's leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen his cautious and careful approach go down well with voters.

Asked if he planned to continue his cautious brand of politics during a new administration, the FM said: "Well, absolutely as far as coronavirus is concerned. The pandemic has not gone away.

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"A government I lead will continue to follow the science to do what our medical advisers tells 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."

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.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives won 14 seats, including taking Vale of Clwyd from Labour, and Plaid Cymru won 11, having lost its high-profile former leader Leanne Wood's Rhondda seat to Labour.

Ms Wood said on her Facebook page that the result was "disappointing", but that her team can "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.