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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12 Comments

  1. “He campaigned on a range of issues and it will be a range of issues that he takes to the National Assembly”.
    What’s his opinion on Brexit and the threat that it poses to the largest employer in his constituency?
    How does he intend to confront the issues that Brxit will bring to his constituents?

  2. Seeking selection and then election was a brave choice. I can’t imagine the trauma Jack and his family went through. I hope the quest for truth and justice does not way too heavily on the new AM’s shoulders. Let’s hope that it is a cathartic experience for the Sargeant family, their friends and their supporters. I wish him well. On a separate note, well done to Carrie Harper for being such an able Plaid candidate in the most difficult of circumstances.

  3. Jason Morgan

    This whole sorry saga is obviously still venomous, and also naturally painful for those who knew Carl Sargeant, and we don’t know exactly where it’s going to end.

    From the perspective of a complete outsider on this; even though there’s obviously a deep rot in the Bay of which I think this story is but one symptom, I’m honestly uncomfortable with electing anyone on the basis of what is, in essence, a personal crusade. I do “get” it. And it is the voters’ prerogative to elect who they see fit. But still I’m deeply ill at ease with it.

    And there’s one other thing. As sad as the circumstances are, if the whole truth about this issue is to come out publically (as it rightly should), Carl Sargeant’s family and friends may well learn some things they’d rather they didn’t know. I don’t know that at all: but that may well happen, which would just compound this tragedy further.

  4. Gareth Phillips

    Congratulations. Jack Sergeant now has a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference to thousands of constituents. I am sure that he will contribute constructively to the devolved politics of Wales and also to the further scrutiny that will now take place regarding the way his father was treated Hopefully, accountability will reign in the Welsh Labour establishment that Carwyn Jones fronts.

  5. Jack the Lad is a full 10 years younger than the previous youngest AM, Steffan Lewis. It is inconceivable that if he had tried for that Labour candidacy but been a Jones, Davies or Lewis that he would have succeeded. He wouldn’t have even made the shortlist, let’s be honest. He got the candidacy, which in Alyn and Deeside then made him a cert for the Assembly, because his name is Sargeant, the son of the man. That’s nepotism plain and simple where I come from. Dress it up as Jack’s revenge or whatever you like but it’s those wonderful Labour Party values rising to the surface yet again. Wales deserves better.

  6. This is a local shop we’ll have no Kinnocks here….we let the local party choose and the local voters too…. the days of Labour parachuting in a Bryant or a Hain are over after the Blaenau escapades. Best wishes to our youngest Aelod Seneddol Cymraeg. pob lwc Jac

  7. Is it wrong to feel worry that nothing will change?
    If Jack is reading this, I hope you can increase scrutiny and democratic accountability down in Caerdydd …thank you

  8. I hope Jack will be his own man and not swayed by those who wish to use him in their own personal and business battles.

  9. “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.”

    The question they should ask themselves is whether the Labour Party is a danger to devolution.
    Labour supporters must not be allowed to pin this on Carwyn Jones alone. It’s a Labour Party debacle and goes much deeper and wider than just the FM. The irony, or is it farce is that the son of the “wronged” man is now an AM of that same party.

    “So be in no doubt Jack will be resolute and focused on justice for Carl.”

    And that may well end up being at odds with knocking lumps out of HIS Labour Party. The scalp of the FM will probably be sufficient for Jack Sargeant the British nationalists of the Labour Party but won’t be of much of a consolation for Welsh nationalists and those who hoped that the Assembly would bring a consistently better politics.

  10. I wish him well. I hope he turns out to be genuine and does a good job. He may lead the charge into resolving his dad’s death and he may find skullduggery, corruption, lies, and more. But he probably won’t. He has a big enough majority to be unsackable and to allow him to poke his nose in but for all the cynicism around Carwyn and his future. He probably won’t. Ironic given that it appears to be a protest vote over the events that provoked his dad to kill himself. The irony being that in order to protest at the actions of the Labour Party, they vote for……..the Labour Party. This is truly our very own Cwtch 22.

    Being a member of trade unions the Labour Party think I am a member so they send me encouraging emails. One about the byelection went beyond ironic. It said…

    “in just 17 days there’s a key Welsh Assembly election. We’ve got 17 days to make sure we can continue to stand up for Wales and protect local people from savage Tory cuts. …….. A victory in Alyn and Deeside is a victory for Wales. ”

    Now, apart from the patronising tone and the fact that they refuse to send me copy in Cymraeg, the staggering hubris of the lie that a vote in an Assembly election will prevent “local people from savage Tory cuts” left me so angry I nearly did something stupid. “Welsh Labour” are campaigning to win a seat vacant because they appear to have lied so much that their sitting AM killed himself over anonymous claims. The local party selects the late man’s son and the NATIONAL party are campaigning to protect Wales from the Tories (who are obviously in power here and have been for some time). The English Labour Party and Corbyn the Beige do nothing to help because as far as they are concerned we neither exist nor have a Labour Government and our First Minister and Great Leader won’t go up to visit the campaign.

    All we need are fur hats and rows of nuclear missiles and we could be in a novel by Graham Greene!

    So. Pob Lwc Jack Sargeant! But don’t expect the Labour machine to allow you to win

  11. jack will get swallowed up by the political machine in Cardiff. selecting him as a candidate was done for all the wrong reasons but I wish him well and hope he does a good job for his constituents, but if anyone really thinks he is going to change the political landscape in the assembly they are seriously wrong.

  12. I’m not qualified and haven’t the ability to comment because of a few aspects, and in addition, I shouldn’t comment.
    Though I’ve seen how Carwyn Jones operated in a similar manner through The Robbie Powell Inquiry, despite this Will Powell kept on and on.
    I’m one of many who is no stranger to how legal wranglings over trauma can go in their own private sphere. my own private sphere is something of a luxury. (the case is ongoing and pressing at the moment, regarding how my head injury was acquired in what was said to be wrong doing and traumatic circumstances, it’s really not a problem for me. but trying to fight for justice was initially instinctive – it no longer is – even though the defence has suddenly admitted liability after a few years, they can front out the guilt no longer perhaps? I wouldn’t be able to comment further on this case specifically).

    I’ve previously had some idea of the lay of the land politically, locally.
    I know what I saw in Carl, and what I now see in Jack. To state the obvious, each separate challenge that Jack has so courageously taken on may be a test of a person’s mettle, in my humble opinion he has already come so far.

    I am sorry to learn of some of the things that have been revealed in this article.

    on some level, and over time, whether the first minister either reveals in some way or admits it or not, I think there is a chance that he may develop some kind of conscience
    He may give everything he’s got in the first couple of years, to the most incredulous and arrogant untruthful defence. Given time though, what will he have left after time.

    I am so sorry to comment and speculate when I’m not qualified.

    It is always great to see people who have been connected to the recent campaign. Like many I want the best for The Sargeants.

    I want the best for Wales, Carwyn Jones should go.

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