I'm glad for Welsh Labour that Brown made an appearance at their Spring conference yesterday. It was necessary, but never the less it's good that he made the effort to come. At least it shows that Labour are aware of how precarious their situation is at the moment, even in the traditional Labour heart lands. And it did send a positive message to the old party faithful that the Prime Minister was willing to come to Wales to rally the troops. But was it enough?
Being as objective as I can, I don't think so, and neither did the correspondents in the BBC studio when it was discussed today. Neither Vaughan Roderick nor Richard Wyn Jones seemed overly impressed with Rhodri Morgan's speech either, and even criticized the staging of the conference. (The fact that the word winning is spelt incorrectly in the Welsh version of the main stage background says it all to be honest!). Everything and everyone just look so tired. In contrast to the Plaid Cymru conference which was slick, professional and buzzing, there was hardly any atmosphere there. Indeed, there were barely any young faces to be seen which must be a real worry for Labour.
The focus of Brown and Morgan's speeches seemed to be very much on the past. The latter in particular focused on reminding the audience how awful it had been under Thatcher. How is that appealing to the younger generation, who barely remember her by now? And how also is it showing that Labour has something fresh and dynamic to offer the Wales we live in today. The messages conveyed indicated that the party was living in the past. The world has changed and Labour needs to show that they have a vision for the future, rather than focusing on showing how they're better than how the Tories were twenty years ago.
The attack on Plaid was interesting, and targeted very much on Adam Price. Its obviously annoyed them that Adam has been getting so much coverage in the Western Mail! Surely, they weren't complaining when they were the ones years ago getting all the coverage when they actually did have something of worth to say. And to be fair, they have been getting a hell of a lot of coverage lately, from the budget to the email fiasco. Oh, and not forgetting Aneurin Glyndwr! It's not Plaid's fault that Labour aren't generating worthwhile positive messages that are worthy of coverage in our national newspaper.
The rest of the attack was as expected, focused on plaid's independence initiative. I did find it hard to swallow when Morgan was going on about Labour's commitment to devolution, whilst at the same time seeing Neil Kinnock grinning in the audience.. Hmm...
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the conference goes and what the reaction to it will be. But I'm guessing it won't be overwhelmingly positive... Still hoping the closing song will be Delilah though!