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Vaughan Gething to face no confidence vote this week

04 Jun 2024 7 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething

Emily Price

First Minister Vaughan Gething is set to face a vote of no confidence in the Senedd this week – but would his Labour colleagues be likely to break ranks during an election period?

Controversies surrounding the embattled First Minister include a huge donation to his election campaign and a row over the sacking of a junior minister just a few weeks after appointing his Cabinet.

But Mr Gething’s short and problematic tenure as Welsh Labour leader began even before he was elected as First Minister.

Here’s everything you need to know about the story so far…

Stitch-up row

In January, Mr Gething was campaigning against rival Jeremy Miles to become Welsh Labour Leader.

He became embroiled in an election stitch-up row after he was nominated by Wales’ second biggest trade union.

Mr Miles was disqualified under questionable circumstances after he was declared ineligible for the nomination because he had never been a lay official of the union.

It later emerged that Mr Gething had only joined the trade union a few months before the election campaign.

Donation scandal

In February, Nation.Cymru exclusively revealed that Mr Gething had accepted a £200,000 donation to his campaign from twice convicted polluter, David Neal of Dauson Environmental Group.

Mr Neal received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge at a sensitive wetlands site on the Gwent levels near Newport.

Several Welsh Government ministers, including former First Minister Mark Drakeford had been working to protect the conservation area.

Mr Gething said all donations to his campaign were recorded appropriately and were within the rules.

On March 16, the former Economy Minister was narrowly elected as Welsh Labour Leader with 51.7% of the vote compared to rival Jeremy Miles with 48.3%.

But the donations row showed no signs of letting up.

Internal review

He suffered an uncomfortable first FMQs session in the Senedd when he was grilled by opposition leaders over the donation from the convicted polluter.

Calls were made for the money to be returned and several of the First Minister’s Welsh Labour colleagues confirmed they would not have accepted the cash.

It later emerged that Jeremy Miles had accepted a £2000 donation to his campaign from someone convicted of a crime in 2009 – but he returned the money as soon as he found out.

Following the backlash, Mr Gething appointed former First Minister Carwyn Jones to carry out an internal review of Labour’s elections – including examining campaign financing.

Welsh Labour was accused of attempting to mark its own homework.

Loan row

Nation.Cymru then revealed that Dauson Environmental Group Ltd were £400,000 in debt to the Development Bank of Wales – a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

The loan was awarded to the company when Vaughan Gething was the Economy Minister.

During another troubled FMQs session in April, the First Minister appeared to be cornered by two of his own backbenchers over campaign donors. 

Labour MS Julie Morgan pressed Mr Gething on taxi firm Veezu after a disabled passenger had been refused a ride because he had a guide dog with him.

The firm had donated £25,000 to Mr Gething’s election campaign.

During the same Senedd session, Labour MS John Griffiths placed the First Minister in another tricky position when he invited him to praise the volunteers working to preserve biodiversity at the wetlands site which had been damaged by Mr Gething’s main donor.

Opposition showdown

In May, Mr Gething faced an opposition showdown when Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth and Welsh Tory Leader, Andrew RT Davies both tabled motions on the £200,000 donation.

Plaid Cymru’s motion called for a cap on future political donations.

The Welsh Conservative motion called for the First Minister to appoint an independent advisor to investigate any conflict of interests.

The First Minister did not attend the debates until they were almost over.

In a shock move from the Labour side, former Deputy Minister Lee Waters broke ranks and called for the money to be returned.

Mr Gething continued to maintain that no rules had been broken.

iMessage scandal

In a further blow on May 7, Nation.Cymru revealed a previously unseen iMessage from a group chat used by ministers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the chat, the then Health Minister told his ministerial colleagues he was deleting messages because they could be subject to Freedom of Information legislation.

The UK Covid Inquiry is currently considering whether to recall Mr Gething to provide further information on what was being discussed in the chat.

Around two weeks after the revelation, Mr Gething sacked junior minister Hannah Blythyn after he alleged she was the source of Nation.Cymru’s leak.

Ms Blythyn staunchly denied the claims saying, “integrity is all in politics and I retain mine.”

Nation.Cymru has never revealed how we obtained the iMessages.

Calls were made for the First Minister to produce evidence to show that Ms Blythyn had made the disclosure.

Mr Gething said he acted in accordance with the ministerial code and the government Cabinet Handbook and claimed the evidence contained information sensitive to other Labour MSs.

Sacking

Questions were later raised by Senedd Committee members with the Welsh Government’s Director of Propriety and Ethics, David Richards over the exact guidance the First Minister had followed.

The donation scandal was to rear it head again on May 14, when Mr Gething was urged to take action against Withyhegde landfill.

The site in Haverfordwest has left locals “on all fours throwing their guts up” due to the noxious odours emanating there.

It’s owned by the same polluter who donated £200,000 to the First Minister’s election campaign.

On May 17, Plaid Cymru ended its co-operation agreement with Welsh Labour several months early after party leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth raised concerns about the First Minister’s judgement.

Shortly after this, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies announced the Tories intention to table a motion of no confidence against the First Minister in the Senedd.

However, tabling arrangements and the Senedd’s Whitsun recess meant such a motion couldn’t be debated for another three weeks.

On May 22 a spanner was thrown into the works when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a General Election for July 4th.

Dissatisfaction

As politicians across the country entered into election mode, Mr Gething was put under the microscope further as voting polls revealed the level of dissatisfaction felt by the Welsh public about the new First Minister.

Despite this, Labour politicians claimed the scandals surrounding Mr Gething were not being raised on doorsteps by voters.

It was widely thought that the Tories would hold off a confidence motion until after the General Election was over.

This is because it’s unlikely any Labour MSs would move against the First Minister just as Sir Keir Starmer is set to gain the keys to Downing Street.

However, last week the Welsh Tories confirmed they had tabled a confidence motion for Wednesday (June 5).

Plaid Cymru, the Tories and Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds are all expected to vote against the First Minister.

Labour holds half the seats in the Senedd meaning every Labour MS would need to take part to defeat the motion by forcing a tie.

With the General Election campaign in full swing – a Labour rebellion is looking unlikely.

Even if the unexpected happened and a vote against the First Minister was successful -it would be non-binding because it takes place during opposition time.

Despite this, it would still put the First Minister on tricky footing if members of his own party expressed a lack of confidence in the Welsh Government’s leadership.


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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 day ago

If Gething had any integrity he would resign. He is now the news not the problems of the people of Wales. Clearly his actions over many years are questionable.

Maesglas
Maesglas
1 day ago

Let’s not also forget that Gething’s few supporters tried playing the race card. A convenient way to divert attention away from having to answer difficult questions and accept scrutiny of his conduct during the run-up to the leadership election. However, there does not seem to be a shred of evidence on record to prove such claims.  Indeed, complaints about Gething’s behaviour were prominent even in the Black community long before he became a Member of the Senedd. For example, in 2004, he was accused of dirty tricks in an election when he won a council seat by just two votes… Read more »

John Owen
John Owen
1 day ago

Just when you thought it was safe to vote Labour.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 day ago
Reply to  John Owen

I think that’s the real problem, it’s always safe to vote Labour in Wales, no matter what they do when in positions of power at whatever level. Many years ago Gwyn Alf Williams made a programme for the BBC ostensibly about Dic Penderyn, that somehow morphed into an expose of how the Labour Party operates in South Wales local authorities. The late Ryan Davies played the part of a janitor in the programme. Overall, the programme was hilarous, and I’m sure most will be aware of how funny Gwyn Alf could be. I was fortunate to see it as a… Read more »

Last edited 1 day ago by Padi Phillips
T3DSK1
T3DSK1
20 hours ago
Reply to  John Owen

it has never been safe to vote labour since Teflon Tony crawled from under his rock.It is unfortunate that the late John Smith passed then labour might have been great again or if Jeremy Corbin was given a chance instead of being stabbed in the back

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 day ago

Of course Gething should go, but it could be useful to an organised opposition that he remains in post. It’s unlikely that Gething being First Minister will have much impact on the end result of the upcoming Westminster election, as Labour are almost guaranteed to win by default, (though I personally hope they don’t do anything like as well as they hope in Scotland) but Gething remaining as First Minister after the Westminster charade could be very helpful should a certain Welsh party get its act together in the two-year build-up to the next Senedd elections. Two years is what… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
21 hours ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

‘With a little skill’, that is the problem there appears to be is no skill from the Plaid leadership. Has Rhun taken the party forward since becoming leader?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
14 hours ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

They have been rather lacklustre and in the past somewhat overkeen to make alliances with Labour that, whilst they contain some very good things, don’t really progress the agenda away from the neoliberal norm. I’ve learned not to expect too much from Plaid in that they effectively sold out to mainstream politics when Elis-Thomas accepted a peerage in 1989. I did consider for a while rejoining Plaid when Leanne Wood succeeded in becoming leader in that she’d looked at Plaid’s radicalism in its earlier years, and had read some of Dr D.J. Davies’ essays on economics, but I’m glad I… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine
3 hours ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

My concern is that he could do a lot of damage in 2 years if, as suspected, he’s Starmer’s place man. He’s far more likely to stand for Labour (and himself) than he is for Wales. How many England devised policies will he try to push through rather than pursue ideas intended to improve lives in Wales? Can’t have insignificant little Cymru creating nasty Mail headlines for our superiors in London can we? I’ve never forgotten – or forgiven – the report that Starmer’s team would call Drakeford to rebuke him after Anas Sarwar phoned KS to complain about phrases… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
4 minutes ago
Reply to  Elaine

That’s precisely my point, Gething only has an interest in promoting himself and it would be very difficult if an opposition party actually did its job and was an effective opposition challenging any behaviour that threatened to damage Wales. It’s not as if things are going to get any better under a Starmer regime in Westminster, and Gething isn’t popular within Welsh Labour, so I dare say there would be principled opposition from within his own party should an opposition party start the ball rolling. For all Drakeford’s claims, Wales largely got policies designed for England anyway, and that’s not… Read more »

Mary Adams
Mary Adams
1 day ago

The no confidence vote will fail because, despite the fact the Labour MS’ neither respect or like him, they will all line up and vote for him like nodding dogs. Not one of them is going to have the guts to stand up for truth and justice.

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
20 hours ago
Reply to  Mary Adams

hmmm Truth and Justice now only two words in a dictionary that now have no real meaning anymore.

It shows a distinct lack of moral fibre and these people are supposed
to be leaders HELL NO!!!!!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
2 minutes ago
Reply to  Mary Adams

You’re correct, but this upcoming election isn’t about truth and justice but about getting the Tories our, despite the only option appearing to be almost as bad. It would be a bit much to expect principles right now!

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
21 hours ago

Just listened to Gething in the Senedd and was completely taken aback by the down right rudeness of the man. Not answering questions properly put to him, blaming Westminster for everything, when asked by a Conservative am about North Wales funding responds with a rude and sarcastic jibe about North Wales looking forward to the Conservative being elected. Rhuns there asking the questions about the donation, but it feels incredibly low energy and just someone going through the motions from an individual who only a few weeks ago was in partnership with Gething. All in all the whole event felt… Read more »

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
20 hours ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

sorry to ask but did you expect it to be any better. Snake oil salesmen, carpetbaggers, charlatans, all out to make a quick buck they are there to serve us or have they forgotten this how many times have the populace been sold down the river by politicians too many to count.
A plague on them

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
19 hours ago
Reply to  T3DSK1

Oh I did not expect anything at all. Still, it was shocking to see the complete contempt he had. Funny enough I have just seen on the home page a story of Gething being branded arrogant.

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
18 hours ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

let us hope people wake up and do the right thing.
I see the sleeping dinosaur Drakeford has had a rant at the senate about the school holiday changes being put on hold Getthings arrogance maybe

Last edited 18 hours ago by T3DSK1
Paul Symons
Paul Symons
20 hours ago

Vaughan Gething is in a position where he is making decisions on behalf of Wales. Most of us who are employed would have been disciplined in some way by our employers for acting in a similar manner to how this man has done. (not just one decision but on a number of occasions.) I can understand someone making an occasional misjudgment and them putting things right, but this man is so arrogant (or ignorant) that he just carries on regardless. If nothing is done by his fellow ministers then as far as I’m concerned they are guilty by association and… Read more »

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
18 hours ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

hear hear

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
14 hours ago

We will find out if any labour Senedd members have any principles or integrity and vote with the tories, Plaid Cymru and lib-dem or will they stick two fingers up towards the people of Cymru and vote to support their disgraceful leader!

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