ONE of the men who hopes to become Wales' first minister has said he's disappointed the race to succeed Mark Drakeford won't include any women.

The Welsh Government's economy minister Mr Gething was the first to announce he is running to be the new leader of Welsh Labour, with education minister Jeremy Miles so far the only other figure to confirm their candidacy. 

Both men face up in a ballot to be held in the spring after Mark Drakeford announced he was stepping down as leader of the party

In a wide-ranging interview with Newsquest, Mr Gething did not categorically rule out a review of the 20mph speed limit law which has caused such division amongst the public - and also said he felt he had more experience than leadership rival Miles.

No women on the ballot: ‘They will need to explain’

When we met Mr Gething at his offices in Cardiff on December 19, he echoed outgoing leader Mark Drakeford’s opinion that it was “disappointing” no women had - at the time of writing - put themselves forward for the leadership contest.

Health minister Eluned Morgan and deputy minister for social partnership Hannah Blythyn had both been tipped as potential runners - but both have ruled themselves out, backing Mr Gething and Mr Miles respectively. 

Mr Gething said it was up to them to explain why they had decided not to run.

“The two women who might have stood decided not to,” said Mr Gething. “They will need to explain for themselves why they have chosen not to stand.”

Watch the video below as Vaughan Gething gives his opinion on no women on the Welsh Labour leadership ballot

The MS for Cardiff South and Penarth did empathise the scale of abuse towards politicians - particularly women - was worse than it had ever been in his 10 years as a minister, and said he hoped the male-dominated representation means there needs to be “introspection” in the Welsh Labour Party.

“For Welsh Labour we need to think why, as a group where half our members are women, we have had no one who wants to stand,” said Mr Gething.

“Compared to when I became a minister ten years ago to what it is now, the level of abuse is much more constant, much more unpleasant.”

Barry And District News: We met Mr Gething in his office in Cardiff in DecemberWe met Mr Gething in his office in Cardiff in December (Image: Newsquest)

20mph - in or out

In September, more than a third of roads in Wales went from 30mph to 20mph. And for those who loathe it, the 20mph law might not be set in stone under Mr Gething’s leadership.

However, Mr Gething identified the need for safer streets, but he also said it was important to listen to the public’s verdict on the law.

“There has already been talk about a review,” said Mr Gething.

“I am keen we will have a timetable that will make sense to listen to the public, but still have a coherent approach that will make our roads safer.

“In government, there are times when you need to lead and times when you need to listen to the people you serve.”

Watch the video below as Vaughan Gething speaks about his plans for the 20mph speed limit law

What are people really concerned about?

Mr Gething admitted people can see there is not enough investment in what they want to see.

And whether that investment gets cut back further – after Labour revealed in their budget for 2024/25 that nearly every governmental department, from sports to business and culture, will lose out in order to further fund and ailing health service - remains to be seen.

“The biggest issues you hear about are the cost of living, the pressure, people’s worries for the future and what that means for all our public services," Mr Gething said.

“People see there is not the investment they want.”

Barry And District News: Mr Gething (centre) faces Jeremy Miles in the leadership contest with Mark Drakeford (left) on his way outMr Gething (centre) faces Jeremy Miles in the leadership contest with Mark Drakeford (left) on his way out (Image: Newsquest/ PA/ Google)

Labour in Wales and Westminster?

Mr Gething said he was the right man to be elected the next leader of Welsh Labour and suggested he was a more experienced choice compared to his opponent, Neath representative Mr Miles, drawing on his time steering the country through the pandemic.

Wales has only had a Labour government since devolution and questions rise around whether it’s time for a complete change, not just in leadership, but with the Tories wobbling in Westminster, Welsh Labour could get a massive boost in Labour politics controlling both the UK and Wales.

“Wales is short of £1.3 billion in real terms,” said Mr Gething. “We cannot make up the deficit without painful choices.

“This also throws into sharp detail the importance of the next general election.

“Our leadership result will be announced in the middle of March and in a day or two a General Election could be called and that is of huge importance to Wales and Britain.”