Jack Sargeant goes to Cardiff determined to get at the truth

Carl Sargeant (left) and his son Jack (right)

Daran Hill

My usual attempts at impartiality went out of the window during the Alyn and Deeside by-election (cue suggestions I am never impartial etc).

The reason was simple. Carl Sargeant was one of my closest friends. The family asked me to speak at his funeral.

Along with so many others, I was broken by his early death and have committed myself to both fighting for justice and supporting the family. It is my passion and my driving force.

It was in the spirit of supporting the Sargeants that I made a conscious decision not to sit this by-election out but to back Jack.

Nothing so vulgar as canvassing happened, but I was always around for a chat and a bit of personal support. We forget sometimes how much candidates in elections need that quiet support and how stressful the experience can be.

On which note, special praise must be given to the way all the other four candidates conducted themselves throughout the campaign.

They walked the line skilfully and ensured the conflict never got too personal or aggressive.

That, of course, didn’t stop political challenge – Carrie Harper was especially good on the health service in North Wales – but it is a credit to them that none of them campaigned on the matter of justice for Carl. That issue is one that belongs properly to Jack.

Be in no doubt that he is committed to getting to the truth of the horror of last November. He feels the anger and loss of a devoted son.

Many of us are still struggling daily to come to terms with what happened. Fighting for justice is vital not just as an act in itself but as part of the healing process.

Dubious

We have already seen a leak inquiry report that no leaks happened when they were seen by tens of thousands on Twitter.

Even those not emotionally involved in the matters around Carl’s death smell a rat. Such a conclusion is simply not credible.

From a nationalist perspective, I would also contend that the mixture of legalistic half-truths, arrogant soundbites and “business as usual” bullshit emanating from the First Minister should also be a worry. His conduct around Carl’s sacking and death was dubious, but his conduct since then has been despicable.

The question nationalists and those who hoped that the Assembly would bring a consistently better politics should ask themselves is whether Carwyn Jones has now become a danger to devolution.

So be in no doubt Jack will be resolute and focused on justice for Carl. But he will also not be defined by that issue, however some may want him to be.

He campaigned on a range of issues and it will be a range of issues that he takes to the National Assembly. His constituents deserve no less and will get no less (now that’s plenty of red meat there to tear into in the comments section).

Those who know him well have been hugely impressed by the way he has conducted himself where the challenges were of a different order and magnitude to normal in a by-election.

He won selection in a genuine and hard fought contest. That was perhaps a harder fight than actually winning the seat, which never seemed in doubt.

That’s not knocking the other candidates – it was a pretty impossible seat for them in normal circumstances let alone in the current ones.

Maybe the biggest challenges of all came from within the Labour campaign itself. Because believe you me there are plenty of people that genuinely did not want Jack Sargeant to be heading to Cardiff Bay and most of them are within the Labour Party.

Indeed, some of them hold the very biggest levers of power within that party.

He rose above that will continue to do so, but seasoned political observers will have noted some omissions from the list of thanks in his speech this morning, not least his thanks to his agent.

So what does this day say to politics in Wales? It probably signifies many things locally but nothing nationally except that the Labour Party member that Carwyn Jones probably least wanted to see in the same room will now be there week after week.

Others have commented on how Carwyn did not turn up during the campaign at any point. I would simply add that wasn’t just because he wasn’t welcome, it was because it wasn’t safe for him.

And when a political leader can’t visit every part of their country then the future of that political leader always draws to a close.

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