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Cloud hangs over office of First Minister – Plaid Cymru

20 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething – Crown Copyright

Emily Price

Plaid Cymru’s leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth has said a cloud hangs over the office of Wales’ new First Minister as questions remain over donations to his campaign.

Vaughan Gething was elected for the top job following a vote in the Senedd on Wednesday (March 20).

He narrowly beat education minister Jeremy Miles in the Labour leadership race with 51.7% of the vote.

Welsh Labour politicians met earlier this week to discuss concerns about a £200,000 donation Mr Gething received from a company that was found guilty of environmental offences in January.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said that unless the money is repaid, negative public perceptions of the new First Minister will persist.

Rules

Atlantic Recycling, which is part of Dauson Environmental Group and controlled by David Neal, gave Mr Gething’s campaign £100,000 on December 18 2023 and £100,000 on January 11 2024.

Atlantic Recycling was also fined £300,000 over one of its workers’ deaths in February after it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work rules.

The former health minister rejected calls to pay back the money, insisting the donation was declared in line with Senedd and Electoral Commission rules.

Both the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies and the leader of Plaid Cymru were also nominated for First Minister during today’s vote.

The act was merely a symbolic formality as neither have enough votes to secure the Welsh Government leadership role.

Vaughan Gething won the support of all the Labour members as well as Jane Dodds, the Senedd’s only Liberal Democrat member.

Challenges

Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “I congratulate Vaughan Gething on become the First Minister of Wales and wish him well.

“He inherits significant challenges as a result of Labour’s record in government in Wales, coupled with Tory austerity.

“A faltering economy, longer NHS waiting lists and falling educational standards is a legacy of collective government in which the incoming First Minister has played a central role for over a decade.

“We know the Labour leadership campaign was divisive, but we also saw a paucity of new ideas. The people of Wales will rightly be thinking that what lies ahead is likely to be more of the same.

“Ongoing questions around donations to Vaughan Gething’s campaign is now a serious cloud over the office of First Minister.

“Holders of high office must be able to secure the confidence of the electorate and in the absence of that money being repaid, public perceptions will persist.

“At a time when the Conservative UK Government has run out of road and with Labour failing in its duty to fight for Wales, it’s more important than ever to have a strong Plaid Cymru voice putting Wales’ interests first and making the most of its influence to bring about positive change in Wales.

“We will leave no stone unturned in holding the new First Minister and his Labour Welsh Government to account.”

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies also made calls for the donation to be returned.

Vanity projects

This was despite offering Mr Gething votes in return for key policy areas such as 20mph being scrapped.

He said: “I congratulate Vaughan Gething on receiving the endorsement of the Senedd to become the next First Minister of Wales.

“Vaughan now has an opportunity for a fresh start, to scrap Labour’s vanity projects and deliver for our NHS, for our schools and for families up and down Wales.

“Our message to Vaughan is clear: If you are prepared to scrap plans for more politicians, to scrap the 20mph speed limit, and scrap the Sustainable Farming Scheme as it stands in its current form, we will work with you to deliver the people’s priorities.”


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Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
3 months ago

How could be return the donation? Clearly he has already spent the money, and it has been effective.

Gary H
Gary H
3 months ago

That’s interesting. Jane Dodds and the Lib Dems don,’t worry about ecocrime, consorting with criminals or slush money. No need to suck up to the biggest party. Or does she fancy being in ecothug’s cabinet? At least PC and even the Tories won’t stoop so low.

Neilyn
Neilyn
3 months ago

Rhun ap Iorwerth said that unless the money is repaid, negative public perceptions of the new First Minister will persist.”

Equally, unless Plaid’s co-operation agreement with Labour is now nullified, negative public perceptions of Plaid’s new leader will persist, surely?

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
3 months ago
Reply to  Neilyn

Just pay it back and it will be all better says Rhun. As if this is the only negative perception of Vaughan Atlantic Gething. Even if Plaid do nullify the agreement the damage for many people has already been done.

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