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Crunch ‘away day’ over Gething’s future for Labour Senedd Members

08 Jul 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image: Matthew Horwood/Welsh Government

Martin Shipton

Labour Senedd Members have been invited to attend an “away day” meeting on July 11 at which attempts are expected to be made to unify them behind the leadership of embattled First Minister Vaughan Gething.

But while supporters of Mr Gething are arguing that he deserves credit for a general election performance that saw 27 of Wales’ 32 constituencies won by Labour candidates, others point out that the party’s vote share was down on that secured in the last election in 2019, often described as Labour’s worst performance since 1935.

A senior Labour source told NationCymru: “The invitation has gone out to members of the Labour group to attend an away-day type meeting on Thursday afternoon. No agenda has been distributed, but the expectation is that attempts will be made to unify everyone behind Vaughan.

“This is ridiculous. The sensible thing would be for him to stand down this week so a new Welsh Labour leader and First Minister can be in place before the summer recess. We all know that he won’t be able to get next year’s Welsh Government  budget through if he’s still in post, so he should resign now and let someone else take over.

“During the recent general election campaign there was a lot of anger from Labour Party members about the damage Vaughan is doing to the party by refusing to resign. People like Jo Stevens [the Cardiff East MP and newly appointed Secretary of State for Wales] are making statements of public support for him which are completely out of step with the way people are thinking.

“The problem is that Jo is very tuned in to the London party’s way of seeing things, which is to try to close down the issue as if Vaughan’s continuation in office wasn’t a massive problem.”

Pressure

Ms Stevens is a close friend of Mr Gething’s and a former colleague of his at Thompsons Solicitors.

Mr Gething has been under pressure since February, when NationCymru revealed that he had accepted donations totalling £200,000 from Cardiff-based waste company Dauson Environmental Group.

The group is owned by businessman David Neal, who has received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the protected wetlands landscape of the Gwent Levels.

NationCymru also revealed that during the Covid crisis, when Mr Gething was the Health Minister, he told fellow ministers in a group iMessage chat that he was deleting messages because they would be subject to disclosure under freedom of information legislation.

Later he told the UK Covid Inquiry that he hadn’t deleted any messages from his mobile phone, but that message had been deleted by the Senedd’s IT department when his mobile phone was serviced.

Last month the Senedd passed a motion of no confidence in Mr Gething after two Labour MSs abstained, but he refused to resign. Then it emerged in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme that Mr Neal’s group was under investigation for alleged tax evasion relating to the collection of Landfill Disposals Tax.

The programme included claims made by whistleblowers that the group was “mischaracterising” waste as inert when that wasn’t the case. Waste that is inert attracts tax at the rate of around £3 per tonne while the standard rate for all other types of waste is more than £100 per tonne.

‘Damaged goods’

The collection of landfill tax is devolved. If the allegation is substantiated, it could therefore be argued that Mr Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign was funded by money that should have been paid to the Welsh Revenue Authority – the Welsh Government’s tax collection vehicle.

On BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme, former Pontypridd MP and UK Government Minister Dr Kim Howells said Mr Gething was “damaged goods” and should be removed from office “sooner rather than later”.

Another Welsh Labour insider said of Thursday’s away day meeting: “The idea is to rebuild relations between members of the Senedd group, but I hope some hard truths will be told.

“What they need to do is look at the polls for Senedd elections rather than Westminster. In 2026 all MSs will be elected by proportional representation and Reform and the Tories could win lots of seats. Vaughan Gething is very unpopular, as polling shows, and if he is leading Labour’s election campaign it could very easily be disastrous for the party.”

Last week a Beaufort Research poll undertaken for NationCymru showed that nearly 70% of Welsh voters thought Mr Gething should not have accepted £200,000 from Mr Neal’s company.

Another poll put Plaid Cymru just four points behind Labour at a Senedd election.


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SundanceKid
SundanceKid
6 days ago

Please keep going Labour. With a bit of luck, these shenanigans will keep you and your leader out of office for a very long time after the next senedd elections!

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

That’s what I tend to think now. Hopefully, this incompetence and cosying up to Westminster will end Labour’s 100 year choke hold on Wales. It’s a bit of a gamble though, as dissatisfied voters could turn to Reform, who are likely to get lots of seats at the next Senedd election due to proportional representation.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 days ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

It is a worry that Reform could benefit from both Gething’s refusal to step down as well as proportional representation. However, perhaps now it exactly the time to double down on the closet fascists, dig up any and all dirt on them, and expose them for what they are.

Reform-UK-True-Logo-2
John Ellis
John Ellis
6 days ago

Welsh Labour has a track record over recent years for outwardly demonstrating solid party unity.

But I’d hazard a guess that when they’re closeted away in private on their ‘away day’ the unity’s likely to be somewhat frayed!

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
6 days ago

Am I reading this correctly? Welsh Labour have a first minister who has not proved to be a popular choice and has made some very strange judgments. So to improve matters you spend time trying to get your team to accept the situation instead of trying to fix the problem. Surely now is the best time to reorganise things and get a good team together. Any decent leader would recognise the situation and if he believed in doing the best for Wales would step aside to enable a strong team to go forward for 2026. Only someone who was in… Read more »

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
5 days ago
Reply to  Old Curmudgeon

Exactly. Even die-hard Labour supporters must realise that Gething’s attempts to cling on are entirely self-serving. He is not their best chance of leading them into the next elections.

The Members also need to reflect on the fact that the picture for Labour across the country in last week’s election is they’re not exactly gaining much new support. How they think they can win new support with Gething is anyone’s guess. They need to move on.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 days ago

The Labour leadership should stop taking the Welsh electorate for granted. If you look closer to the GE 2024 it shows a Labour party losing support in Wales. There is general disillusionment with the way government is being run with the current ‘Welsh Labour’ leadership at Cardiff Bay. This has led to the far right Reform UK party gaining votes. It must be stressed that should Reform UK get any foothold in the levers of power in Wales it will be disastrous for our future as a nation. In many of the seats where labour were strong the, so called… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
6 days ago

Typical Labour, away day so Gething activities can be swept under the carpet. Any half decent person would resign for the good of the people of Wales. Suggests Gething couldn’t care a toss about Wales, Welsh people or the Labour party. He only cares about himself.
One good outcome could be a rise in the rising support for Plaid Cymru. Need to capitalise on this for the protection of us all from Labour nepotism and corruption

L. Edwards
L. Edwards
6 days ago

Riding it out works so well these days in politics, doesn’t it. Just ask the Westminster Conservatives

L. Edwards
L. Edwards
6 days ago
Reply to  L. Edwards

Especially on issues of trust

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
6 days ago

In the words of Welsh Labour Stalwart Kim Howells, Vaughan Gething is “damaged goods”

Neilyn
Neilyn
6 days ago

It’s painful to watch a man’s ego rule his behaviour and ruin his reputation, not to mention erode democratic good will in the nation he was installed to lead (though not elected by the populace).

Welshman28
Welshman28
6 days ago

At least now Labour supporters will clearly see how twofaced Jo Stevens is and has always been. If this was Parliament gGething would have gone but no it’s the Senedd where all of the labour members don’t give two hoots about the people who elected them, if they did they would be more verbal on Gething.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
5 days ago
Reply to  Welshman28

I get the feeling Jo Stevens is being used to deliver Starmer’s preferred message on topics that are, shall we say, difficult and divisive?
He had a habit of using one Emily Thornberry to do the same and look where that’s got her ultimately. She’s on the back benches. She’s served her purpose and has been replaced.

i bring up Thornberry as she was also prone to having disastrous interviews, much like Jo Stevens did recently with S4C.

Francoise
Francoise
5 days ago

It’s hypocrisy if he stays ,he’s got to go

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