Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales

It really is a great privilege to be able to give this year’s Aneurin Bevan annual lecture and to follow in the path of so many distinguished speakers to give this talk in recent years.

I plan to begin this evening’s lecture in a way familiar to many Welsh audiences, and certainly one which would have been very familiar to Bevan himself from his earliest days, attending the Congregationalist Chapel on Commercial Street, because I’ll begin by offering you a short text.

In this case, however, the text comes not from the Old Testament, but from Bevan himself.

In one of the last public contributions he made, to the Labour Party Conference in 1959, barely a year before his untimely death.

Let me give you a personal confession of faith. I have found in my life that the burdens of public life are too great to be borne for trivial ends. The sacrifices are too much, unless we have something really serious in mind’.

Now, to my mind – and as ever with Bevan – there are a whole host of different and competing things jostling for meaning in that brief sentence.

Power; political purpose and urgency of action amongst the most resonant.

And I hope to have something to say on all of them this evening.

Indeed, in true recovering-lecturer format, I ought to let you know my plan for the next 45 minutes.

In my first section I will argue that the great 1945 Government, of which Bevan was such a pivotal member, laid down a series of measures which had the effect of creating a new citizenship for members of the United Kingdom.

That new citizenship reached into the lives of every citizen and in doing so made a real and tangible case for the Union itself.

Social solidarity as the basis of a United Kingdom

I will attempt to lay out four different ways in which that great effort was given practical effect.

In a second section I will argue that for forty years, since 1979, the neo-liberal ascendancy has systematically undermined and eroded the sense of what it is to be British.

Using the same four-fold examples, I want to show how the case for the continuation of the United Kingdom as a voluntary association of four nations has been eroded to the point where the fabric of the UK itself has become frayed.

Frayed far too close to breaking point and so that it is now at greater peril today than at any time since it was threatened by foreign invasion in the Second World War.

In the third and final part of the lecture I will argue that the future of the UK can yet be secured.

That is the ‘really serious purpose’, as Bevan put it, which I believe can only be achieved by revisiting and reviving, in contemporary conditions, the actions of that 1945 Labour Government. 

Now, as then, I argue, only the Labour Party can save the Union.

So, let me begin with those things ‘very far from trivial ends’, of which Bevan spoke in 1959 and which animated the government in which he served.

The over-riding purpose of those changes that government made, it seems to me, was to respond to the sacrifices made by so many during wartime.

To help create a society founded on social solidarity.

Where that solidarity was guaranteed through a set of economic and social rights provided by membership of the Union.

I said that I would suggest four different ways in which that underpinning idea was put into practice and the first and the most famous was the creation of the Welfare State itself.

A Welfare State built on a promise for all citizens, across the United Kingdom, of decency and security at times of unemployment, ill-health, disability or old age.

From cradle to grave.

Now, it would be conventional, in an Aneurin Bevan lecture, to illustrate this point by reference to the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 or the Housing Act he piloted onto the statute book in the following year.

In fact, I am going to concentrate more on the actions of that other great Welsh member of the Attlee Government, the Member of Parliament for Llanelli, James Griffiths who was responsible for making a reality of the great scheme of National Insurance and which had formed the basis of the Beveridge Report.

It is because of Jim Griffiths that, in those incredibly difficult post-war circumstances, a Labour Government was able to abolish the fear of want.

Able to guarantee an income to those unable to work.

Which would be sufficient to keep an individual, or a family, in conditions of decency and free of the fear of the hated means-test of the 1930s.

These were the foundation stones not only of post-war economic prosperity and stability, but the basis of a new social citizenship for the modern age.

One that could materially provide for those in need, wherever they might live, by binding people together in an understanding that, without acting and providing together, my misfortune, and your good fortune today, could so easily be reversed for both of us tomorrow.

Labour and public goods

The second way in which the post war United Kingdom bound its citizens together was through Labour’s approach to essential public goods because the building of that UK-wide social solidarity did not end with the creation of the great Beveridge services.

Drawing on the experience of 1930s municipal socialism, the post-war 1945 Labour Government also brought ‘life-line’ provision, in the form, for example of electricity, gas and water into the collective ownership of the whole nation.

The changes ensured that the cost of power supply did not depend on the accident of geography.

They ensured that the inevitably higher costs of connecting electricity to the slate quarrying villages of North West Wales or the coalfields of Fife – from which the entire United Kingdom drew benefit – were at the same time borne by the nation as a whole.

For Bevan and the 1945 Labour Government, the new post-war settlement had at its heart the collective and cooperative provision of vital public goods.

Goods that were important not only to our material wealth but which also helped us see the benefit of collective provision, collaborative politics and the benefits of union across the UK.

I grew up in the West of Wales, surrounded by the Welsh language and the rhythms of a rural economy.

But my father taught under the terms of the 1944 Butler Education Act, my mother worked for the GPO.

In the same way as telephoning in any part of the UK, and remote as Carmarthenshire may have been, I knew I lived in the wider UK because we travelled by British Rail; because the anthracite pits in the east of the County were owned through the National Coal Board; and because the coal they produced was used further along the Welsh coast by British Steel.

Labour and working people

On, then to the third strand of solidarity woven by the Government of which Bevan was a member. Because as well as public goods and public services the 1945  settlement created a platform for the advancement of working people in the workplace.

Wages Councils were established in industries as diverse as agriculture and hairdressing.

The Councils encouraged collective bargaining and ensured that wages were sustained above a basic legal minimum.

A minimum wherever in the United Kingdom that work was carried out.

Nor did this huge unifying effort confine itself to the great national services or industries.

Or indeed, at this time, to the actions of a single Party.

When I grew up in rural Carmarthenshire, the milk produced on my grandparents’ farm was taken away and moved by the Milk Marketing Board set up by the Agricultural Marketing Act passed by the National Government in 1933.

When I took the eggs which my brother and I had collected to be graded and stamped, as they were across the United Kingdom, by a miniature lion, it was to a station of the Egg Marketing Board, set up by the Conservative Government in 1956.

My grandparents were as steeped in the rural Welsh tradition as you could imagine.

Welsh speaking, chapel-going, Liberal voting. 

But the daily business of running a small West Wales farm, the small change of their working lives, connected them, in a very direct and a very tangible way, to the lives of similar farmers in Scotland or in England. 

It shaped how they worked but it shaped how they saw the United Kingdom, too and how they understood it to be a place to which they belonged.

Labour and the politics of the United Kingdom

Finally, then, in this part of what I have to say, to the fourth strand of solidarity, but this time one which the Labour Government of 1945 was the beneficiary rather than the author.

In 1945, the Labour Party won a majority of seats in England, Wales and Scotland and throughout the period in which the post-war settlement endured, there was always a fighting chance that the progressive politics of Wales would find itself reflected in Government at UK level.  

The Conservative Party has never won an election in Wales in the nearly two hundred years since the first stirrings of universal suffrage.  

Between 1945 and 1979, Labour was in government for 17 of the 34 years.

A fifty/fifty chance that the political preferences of Wales would be reflected in Westminster.

Nor was Labour simply the party of the industrial North East and the South Wales valleys.  

When Labour took office in 1945, it held the seats of Brecon and Radnor, Caernarvonshire and Gower.

In 1966 Labour won in Anglicised and Tory Monmouth and across the Welsh speaking South West, in Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. 

In the two elections of 1974, it won Anglesey, twice.

There was, in other words, far more than just an outside or fighting chance that the nature of Welsh politics would find itself reflected in the nature of politics elsewhere across the United Kingdom. 

Not only was the United Kingdom glued together by the safety net of the welfare state, common ownership of essential service and the protections it provided to its workers, its democratic system, too, worked for its constituent nations.

But, then, things began to change.

The election of 1979 and the arrival of the neo-liberal radicals into government was the obvious fire-break in the social democratic nature of the UK. 

In truth, the process had begun earlier.

In its ‘Selsdon Man’ phase – that distant ancestor of ‘Worcester Woman’ – the Heath Government of 1970 had sought to break with the post-war consensus. 

But the real onslaught – the biggest test of the principle of collective provision and the glue that had held the United Kingdom together – took place in the years after 1979. 

For Mrs Thatcher and her government, the United Kingdom was so taken-for-granted that it could be, just that – taken for granted.

Earlier this year, the former Deputy Prime Minister, David Liddington pointed out that much of what was settled in 1979 has since disappeared.

Much of that took place during the Thatcher era itself.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989; East Germany came to an end in 1990; the USSR ceased to exist in 1991.

Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia began to break up.

Today all four are confined to history.  

Yet, through it all, the future of the United Kingdom itself was never a concern to the new Conservative Party.

And all the time, they unravelled the reasons which, for so many people, had made it worthwhile.

And, in the next part of this lecture, I want to demonstrate just how inimical the Conservative and Unionist Party has been to the preservation of that Union, over the last forty years. 

The Tories and the Welfare State

The promise of full employment realised in 1945, was not simply abandoned – but betrayed – in the budget of 1981.

It decimated the United Kingdom’s manufacturing industry and deliberately stoked unemployment as a tool to discipline and defeat the trade union movement.

Housing, as one distinguished social policy academic put it, simply ceased to be a responsibility recognised by the state.

Council housing was forcibly sold off; local authorities were prevented from house building.

Housing subsidies turned into massive profits for private sector landlords through housing benefit.

‘Social Security’, that noble ambition of the Wilson Government, was reframed as a scroungers’ charter: the victims of unemployment, disability or sickness blamed for their own condition.

The very safety net on which they had depended was loosened and made ever-more threadbare.

The assault on the welfare state has been one of the unifying themes of all Conservative Government’s from 1970 onwards.

And it certainly didn’t stop with Mrs Thatcher.

The Cameron and Osborne era saw the poorest bear the greatest burden of austerity, with benefits frozen and children forced into the front line of welfare cuts in child benefit and the despicable family cap.

We might have thought that the bottom of the barrel had been scraped, but we had not reckoned with Boris Johnson.

The recent £20 cut in weekly Universal Credit is the single most savage reduction in benefit support for more than 70 years.

Indeed, it is to the hungry 1930s, and the social conditions which precipitated Aneurin Bevan’s arrival here in Parliament that we have to look to see anything like it in recent history.

Now, I can give you a technicolour account of the wickedness of such an attack on the poorest, from both social and economic perspectives, but my point this evening is a different one.

Thousands of families, in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, will look at what has happened to them, and ask the question:

What is the point of the United Kingdom if the promise it held out of basic decency for all has been so deliberately abandoned?

Tories and public goods

Under Thatcher the common assets of people across the United Kingdom were sold off from under them.

The provision of public service was replaced by the pursuit of private profit, wherever a penny could be extracted.

The sell-offs of gas, electricity and water meant that you did not belong, any longer, to a collective organisation which, whatever its imperfections, told you that you had something in common with other people, in other parts of the UK.

Instead of being a citizen with a stake, you were just another consumer.

One with an entirely temporary and purely transactional relationship with the supplier.

Encouraged to pursue only your own individual best interests by taking your custom elsewhere, as soon as the sniff of a better deal emerged. 

The denationalisation of major industries was, of course, one of the bitterest of battle grounds.

But every time a British Rail disappeared; a British Steel was sold off; or a National Coal Board destroyed, so, as it seems to me, one more tear appeared in the fabric of the United Kingdom.

Another slash was made in the cloth of what it mean to be British. 

And all of this carried out by Conservative Governments entirely care-less about the consequences.

The roots of the Scottish referendum on 2014 are plain to see in the actions of the 1980s, but those consequences were ignored by the Tories at the time, and denied by them to this day. 

Tories and working people

When the Wages Councils was wound up in 1987, so the bracing winds of the free market could blow through a wider range of industries, what workers in those industries learned is that, while they thought they had the United Kingdom at their back, the United Kingdom had walked away from them.

Once again, these depredations were not confined to the large scale erosions of the welfare state and the common ownership of industries on which we all, unavoidably, depend. 

My grandfather’s successors sold their milk into a market where prices had been depressed below the cost of production by monopoly purchasers in the supermarkets, following the Milk Marketing Board having ended in 1994.

The Egg Marketing Board had been culled as early as 1971, paving the way for the battery chickens of mass production, and the salmonella scandals of the 1990s.

Those ordinary, everyday affirmations of what it meant to the British, those basic props of an inter-connected experience, had been kicked away, alongside the disappearing welfare state, the privatisation of profit and the socialisation of risk.

No wonder, in the terms of this lecture, it was the risk to the United Kingdom itself that was on the rise.

And on the rise, as well, in the fourth of the dimensions I have been tracing this evening, the practical operation of our democracy.

Neo-liberalism and the politics of the UK

Earlier in this lecture I set out the way in which, during the 35 years which followed the foundation of the social solidarity state, Labour had been in power for exactly half the period. 

How very different has been the period since 1979.

Forty two years, in which Labour has been in power, in the UK, for 13.

A 50/50 chance now reduced to almost one in four.

42 years in which, even in the most difficult of times, Wales has never been anything but Labour.

Now, let me make a confession: I have been a supporter of the Labour campaign for electoral reform for the whole of my political lifetime. 

How anyone clings to the notion that a system which delivers, so consistently, majority Conservative governments on a minority of the votes cast is best for working people simply baffles me. 

I can tell you without any possible hesitation that it is not good for Wales – and I don’t believe that it is not good for the United Kingdom either. 

The electoral system which I have just described, in December 2019 returned a Conservative Government with a majority of 80 seats over all other Parties. 

Under the same system, in three of the four nations of the UK, the election was won by other Parties.

In Northern Ireland, the parties most often associated with the Conservatives went backwards.

 In Scotland, first-past-the-post returned a huge phalanx of SNP MPs.

In Wales, even in the bleak circumstances of that election, Labour won a majority of Welsh constituencies.

What might you expect the reaction of a Government loudly and proudly associated with the Union to be?

You might, I would argue, have expected some humility in the context of the result.

A sense that the best thing to do would be to work closely with others in parts of the United Kingdom where its own mandate was much weaker. 

A sense even of needing to tread a little carefully.

To ensure that a voluntary association of four nations could be preserved through consent.

Through delivery of the tangible benefits of being part of a larger political, economic and social union.

You might have thought so.

But the reality turned out to be quite the opposite.

The dominant strain – not the only strain, but the dominant one – in the first majority Conservative Government since devolution has been, for nearly two years, determined and aggressive unilateralism. 

Their theory is plain to see:

  • Devolution has undermined the United Kingdom;
  • It has placed too much power and too much prominence in the hands of opponents with which they do not agree;
  • Successive UK Governments have been too placatory in the face of the ungrateful and ever-demanding subsidy junkies of the Celtic fringe – and it is time to demonstrate who is boss. 

It’s what I describe as the ‘show them’ playbook.

A mixture of Ruritanian dressing up and a very real and very direct assault on devolved responsibilities and budgets.

On the Ruritanian front, I can do no better than quote the former Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley.

As a contributor to a series of essays on the Union, published to coincide with this month’s Conservative Party conference, she wrote:

How, then, do we save the Union?

First we must recognise that the Union means different things to different people.

It’s why ‘muscular unionism’ – imposing a specific Anglo-centric form of the Union on British people – fails spectacularly as a unifying strategy.

Rather than uniting people, it alienates those who hitherto have felt British, but not ‘this kind’ of British.

The proposals of the Cabinet Office’s ‘Union Directorate’ to strengthen British patriotism – which often appear to revolve primarily around better branding and ‘flag mania’ – often risk overlooking the regional variations of the British identity.

They seem to think that each nation’s desire for greater decision-making and greater control over their daily lives can be addressed through facile, top-down proposals for new branding or by shouting even louder about the crumbs that are benevolently handed out.

It seems to believe that the increase in both the size and number of Union flags plastered on vaccine vials or face masks or used as official wallpaper, will convince people of the value of the Union.

In short, it won’t.

Let me summarise this part of my argument. So much of the substance of the United Kingdom has been deliberately destroyed by the Conservative Party that today’s Tory government is reduced to a strategy for preserving the Union made up largely of symbolism – the bombastic branding and flag-mania identified by Karen Bradley.

And every day they so, more and more people turn to ask themselves:

‘Is this really it? Are these really the only clothes the Emperor has to wear?’

All of which brings me to the third and final part of this lecture and my own key conclusions of the evening which are that: 

What does all this mean for the future?

Only Labour can save the Union.

Only a Labour Party prepared to make a progressive and collaborative case for a modern, four-nation union, can give it any chance of a viable and sustainable future. 

My second conclusion is that there is no more urgent cause in our politics today.

Indeed, that is why I chose my text from Aneurin Bevan this evening – because there can be nothing more serious purpose than the delivery of that Labour Government.

The Scottish Nationalist Party has a very different political project to the one I have outlined.

A project it will pursue to a conclusion during this Senedd term.

The position in Northern Ireland is ever-more volatile.

It’s not a habit of mine to quote from Iain Duncan Smith, but I agree with his recent conclusion that:

‘The place of Northern Ireland within the UK is looking more and more precarious’.

Now, I don’t agree with the solution he proposes, but I do believe that the need to make the case for the United Kingdom is ever more urgent.

So what would that case be?

Let me set out the case which I think the Labour Party should make.

It’s one that seeks to repair the damage which successive Conservative Governments has inflicted on the Union.

Social solidarity, I believe, has to be at the heart of the case we should make for the Union and so taking in turn each of the four themes I’ve tried to trace during this lecture, I’ll finish off by setting out some short prescriptions for us in Labour.

The first, then, would be to set out to repair the threadbare nature of our shared welfare state.

On this issue, at least, let us have the courage not to judge our policies by the reaction of the Daily Mail or the Sun newspaper.

Most people across the United Kingdom want to see children fed and clothed by their families, not the food bank.

They want to see disabled people treated with decency.

They do not want sickness or retirement to be points at which life is plunged into poverty and despair.

The Tories under Mrs Thatcher succeeded in convincing some people – too many people – that misfortune was something which only happened to other people.

And that even then it was probably their own fault.

Labour has to have a practical plan for making social security work again.

But we also have to make the moral case for that plan – because a Union which turns its back on those who need it, when they need it, is a Union which causes deep damage to itself.  

And a politics which says that, I’m only interested in a child in Glasgow, or a disabled person in Ebbw Vale, but not in any other part of the United Kingdom, is a politics which only ends up by eroding the rights of everyone.

My second Labour prescription is that we have to be bold in recapturing the common interest.

The public interest of those aspects of our daily lives which we cannot go without.

Every day we see in front of us the disintegrative effect of having to put our collective futures solely in the hands of the market: fuel shortages, rocketing energy prices, failing railway franchises.

I could set your hair on end by describing the failures of the energy grid in Wales.

Competing network operators, a regulator which can only fund grid development which can pay for itself immediately and with no capacity to make decisions based on anticipating the production and distribution of renewable energy, so essential to meet our climate change commitments.

But, once again, my purpose tonight is not simply to expose the failures and the limitations of neo-liberalism, but to do what Bevan always set out to do.

To look for ways in which its corrosive effect on our communities, on our politics – and ultimately our Union – can be repaired.

So a Labour Government should, of course, look to bring the most egregious failures back under public control.

Just as the Welsh Labour Government has already returned the railways, for which we are responsible, back to the people.

And then, we have to find contemporary ways of making the public interest, not the pursuit of private profit, the determining consideration in other industries. 

Now, I am not advocating 1945 nationalisation.

None of what I have said this evening should be construed as some nostalgic appeal to return to the past.

The success of Labour in Wales during the whole of the devolution period has relied on our ability to reinvent and renew the practical ways in which we can deliver on our enduring beliefs in a socialism rooted in equality, solidarity and democracy.

And, in finding ways to reassert the public interest in those services which none of us can manage without, let me provide just one example in the not-for-profit model we have developed for the supply of water in Wales. 

A model that since 2000 has not only produced a safe, secure and high quality public service, but been highly regarded in the minds of the Welsh public, particularly in comparison with private companies in the market.

Independent consumer research, carried out earlier this year, found that Welsh citizens rated the company higher than those using every profit making company in service satisfaction, trust and in the belief that what mattered most to them, mattered most to the company as well.

The point I am making is this: that when people see these essential services run in the public interest, they become more interested in the conditions which have made it possible. 

Privatisation says, the Union doesn’t matter.

The things we do together don’t matter.

Public services, built on the public interest, demonstrate that collective action is our best defence where essential provision is concerned.

That it is the Union which stands behind you in ensuring that those things you cannot manage without – water to drink, electricity to turn on the light, public transport to keep you moving – are provided, are safe and are affordable. 

The commitments I am proposing make not only economic and social sense, they are fundamental signals of what it means to be a modern citizen of the United Kingdom.

And why continuing in its membership matters to us all.

I now come to my third area, the employment rights of UK citizens.

How I wish I could welcome the conversion of Brother Johnson to a high wage, high productivity, and secure conditions economy.

But the truth is that, for the last forty years, the history of the Conservative Party has been one of relentless and continuing assaults on decency in work.

And of course, from the perspective of the argument I have been making this evening, every time the Union erodes those protections, the case for the Union itself is eroded a little further.

So, the next Labour Government, in order to be elected, will need to put forward a set of measures which demonstrate the power of the Union to protect.

 In Wales, even with the limitations of the current settlement, we have been able to

  • Take action to bring to an end zero hours contracts in social care
  • Retain protection for agricultural workers
  • Prevent blacklisting and exploitation in the supply chain
  • Roll back pernicious anti-trade union legislation
  • And, during the first year of this Senedd term we will bring forward a Bill to put our social partnership arrangements on a statutory basis.




If we have been able to do all this, when employment matters are not even devolved to Wales, think what the next UK Labour Government could do, to protect the position of working people.

At a time when working practices are changing so fast; when the gig economy has worker insecurity as an intrinsic and inevitable part of its operating model – the case for reform is once again, not simply economic and social, it is existential as well: to act in the way that only Labour can act will reinforce the case for the United Kingdom and its continuation.

All of which brings me to the final strand in the argument of this lecture: the democratic deficit which our current system creates.

And, in particular, the extent to which this undermines the case for the United Kingdom.

One of the most fundamental changes, of course, has not yet featured in what I have had to say this evening.

The creation of democratic institutions within the United Kingdom has meant, in the Welsh context, not just the things created through the welfare state – free, universal entitlement to schooling; a free-at-the-point-of-use National Health Service; access to quality housing and a very basic safety net of income for an individual, or a family.

But also the other things that devolution has enabled.

What the election of the first working-majority Conservative Government since 1999 demonstrates, however, is just how vulnerable the devolution settlement that has allowed these things has been to continuous attack by the Tories. 

The next Labour Government must entrench devolution, putting the settlement beyond the unilateral ability of a hostile Conservative Party to reverse the arrangements endorsed in two Welsh referendums. 

Decisions which affect only people who live in Wales should be made only by people who live in Wales.

That principle is breached daily by the present UK Government.

It must, and can only, be repaired by Labour.

And beyond devolution itself, only Labour is capable of restoring a democracy in which every part of the UK feels it has a share.

The need to reform of the House of Lords has been called urgent by Welsh Labour leaders from Keir Hardie, through Aneurin Bevan.

It certainly includes the leader of Welsh Labour today.

At the next General Election, I hope that reform of the House of Lords will be a first-term Labour pledge, replacing it with a Chamber of the Union guaranteeing representation from the nations and regions of the UK and with a make-up which genuinely reflects the voting preferences of the population.

Of course there is a wider programme of reform which I cannot cover this evening. It will be for the Gordon Brown commission, which Keir Starmer has instigated to make those proposals, drawing on the work which we have set in hand in the Welsh context and to be led by Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Laura McAllister.

There can be no hesitation that radical reform must be the agenda of the next UK Labour Government.

No doubt it will face the call that reform has always had to face, that other matters are more urgent.

But, it is hard to think of anything more ‘really serious in mind’, to return to the Bevan text with which I began, than the repair of our democracy itself.

I’ve already put on record my own views on electoral reform, and the way in which it would make the case for the United Kingdom.

In Scotland, in December 2019, the Liberal Democrats took 9% of the vote and won four seats.

Labour took 19% of the vote and won just a single seat.

Nearly two out of every ten votes cast leads to one out of 59 seats won.

I have every sort of democratic quarrel with such a system, but for today I feel certain that its continuation will only feed further the fissures which threaten to prise the United Kingdom apart.

And only Labour can put that right.

And with the decision, last week, of Unite the Union to support reform, the chances of us doing so are significantly improved.

And so to end, where I began:

Aneurin Bevan said that the costs of being involved in politics are only bearable if that political leadership is dedicated to serious causes. 

I believe today, as I have throughout my political lifetime, in a powerfully devolved Wales, choosing to be part of a successful United Kingdom.

A United Kingdom that offers economic security, common ownership of essential services and a commitment to the interests of working people. 

It will soon be fifty years since I first knocked someone’s door, part of a wider effort to persuade people to vote Labour.

It took until 1999 to give Welsh people control over much of our own affairs.

Today, the case for the United Kingdom is disputed more than ever.

But that case is there to be made:

To offer that powerfully devolved and social solidarity United Kingdom which, I believe would be attractive to a very clear majority of Welsh citizens, and to citizens elsewhere. 

It is the very antithesis of the trivial case which the Tories pursue.

It is absolutely worth the sacrifices which have to be made in its pursuit.

And, once committed to it, the Union can be saved.

And only Labour can do it. 

Thank you.

*   *   *

A short clip of the Lecture can be viewed here

The 2021 Aneurin Bevan Memorial Lecture took place in Westminster on 25th October 2021 with the kind support of Community Union.