CARWYN JONES will be a First Minister not afraid to take the tough economic decisions he undoubtedly faces, former colleagues said last night.
As Welsh Labour yesterday unveiled their new leader, business in Wales was waiting to assess the kind of premiership Mr Jones’s administration will offer if, as expected, he is elected as First Minister a week today.
And while he has come across as a consensual politician, those who know him well say he has the ability to make tough decisions when it comes to the crunch.
Bob Parry was president of the National Farmers Union when the foot-and-mouth outbreak crippled Welsh farming, working with Mr Jones – who was Minister for Environment, Planning and the Countryside at the time.
He said: “He took difficult decisions and faced difficult questions from farmers, yet he managed to put their concerns at ease. He also worked hard to make sure that the farmers affected were getting compensation they needed.”
Mr Parry said Mr Jones took action that was often unpopular – and he was unafraid to do so.
“We both attended meetings where we were shouted down,” said Mr Parry.
“But he had the ability to persuade people to accept what was happening.
“He is not a man to be hoodwinked in any way.
“The important thing as well was that he was a man that we could talk to, he would listen and he could see common sense.”
Business group the CBI yesterday called on the new Labour leader to “show determination to get more for less” and use the Welsh Assembly Government’s spending restraint as a “catalyst for strategically redesigning service delivery in a way that maintains outcomes”.
David Rosser, the director of the CBI Wales, said: “CBI Wales members have engaged with all Welsh Labour leadership contenders during the election campaign.
“We have found Carwyn to be an effective communicator and the views from the business community have generally been very favourable. Business people we have spoken to believe he has the right personality and approach to be a good asset for Wales.
“But they also want him to fully embrace the private sector across all areas of his programme for government.”
Jeff Jones, the former Bridgend County Borough Council leader, knows the Bridgend AM well and argued that he would provide a “pragmatic approach” to the leadership.
He said: “Carwyn is not an ideologue, he is not an extreme left winger, and I think he will be very much interested in what works and will be open to persuasion. His main aim will be to get the Welsh economy moving.”
Jeff Jones said Mr Jones understands that economic mobility is the key to addressing levels of poverty in Wales.
“So many politicians do not understand the way the private sector works. There is a need for a far more realistic approach by politicians to understand how industry operates – Carwyn is the man to be realistic about that.”