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Deputy minister and shadow minister reprimanded for blazing Senedd row

26 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Natasha Asghar and Lee Waters during their final standoff in the Chamber.

Emily Price

A deputy minister and his Tory shadow have been reprimanded for their conduct after the two rivals became embroiled in a blazing row in the Senedd.

Deputy Minister for Transport, Lee Waters and Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Asghar have been chastised from the Senedd’s Deputy Presiding Officer for an argument which was branded “unnecessarily personal in nature”.

Deputy Presiding Officer David Rees called for calm on several occasions on Wednesday (March 20) during the final blow out between the pair before the deputy minister stepped down from his post.

Mr Waters was instrumental in implementing Wales’ controversial 20mph policy which was rolled out in residential areas in September.

During the clash – which played out live on Senedd TV – Ms Asghar described him as a “patronising politician” whilst he hit back saying he wouldn’t miss being quizzed by her.

‘Rants’

Ms Asghar has been at the forefront of Welsh Conservative calls for the new default speed limit to be axed.

The Welsh Government says the policy will save lives.

The outgoing transport minister accused the Tory MS of regular rants “designed for social media” populated by “sneers and personal derogatory remarks”.

She hit back saying Mr Waters had made his mark on Welsh transport “for all the wrong reasons” since he took up the ministerial position in 2021.

On his last day holding the transport brief, Ms Asghar said the deputy minister had left a record to be “ashamed of”.

Mr Waters claimed that the record breaking anti-20mph Senedd petition was “riddled with inaccuracies” based on misinformation spread by the Tories who were “telling lies” about Welsh Government policies.

He said: “I wish she would ban lying. I wish she would reflect on the contribution she makes to crying hate towards politicians when she contributes to a poisonous culture of language and misinformation. I think that is appalling.”

Shouting broke out in the Senedd as the Deputy Presiding Officer warned the outgoing deputy minister to think about the language he was using.

Ms Asghar said she was “disgusted” with the deputy minister’s comments saying: “The fact that you’ve blamed me for hate—are you actually joking?”

The Deputy Presiding Officer ended the fiery exchange saying he would be reviewing the comments of both involved.

‘Respect’

He has since written to the pair saying the row “did not reflect well on the Senedd as an institution”.

Mr Rees said: “I wish to remind you both of the requirement for Members to treat each other with respect at all times – both inside and outside of the Chamber – and to be careful of the tone and personalisation of contributions.

“I ask that you reflect on whether the exchange this week met those standards and to consider future contributions in this light.”

Mr Rees added that both himself and the Presiding Officer will consider whether further steps need to be taken to “address the boundaries of acceptable discourse”.

The Presiding Officer – also known as the Llywydd – chairs Plenary meetings and the Senedd Commission which oversees the work and support function of the Welsh Parliament.

She was not present during the row between the deputy minister and shadow minister.

Ms Asghar has since called for a meeting with Ms Jones saying she has been a target for “extreme social media hate” and therefore would “categorically never incite hate or abuse” to another politician.

In a letter to the Llywydd she said that Mr Waters’ accusation that she had “fuelled campaigns against him” amounted to “malfeasance and direct neglect” of the Ministerial Code.

In November last year, Mr Waters apologised to Ms Asghar after he branded her “hysterical” during a Senedd row.

The Tory shadow minister said Mr Waters’ use of language was “patronising, condescending, and misogynistic”.

The Llywydd appeared to take Ms Asghar’s side saying there was a long history of the term hysterical “being used by men to demean women”.

Mr Waters disabled his X account on Monday (March 18).

Welsh Conservative MS Gareth Davies said the move was a way “to dodge scrutiny”.

Mr Waters did not wish to comment on the exchange.


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Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
23 days ago

Well she does rant doesn’t she?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
23 days ago

Antagonism is the name of the game for Tory MS Natasha Asghar. She has never said or done anything positive as a member of the Senedd Cymru. I honestly can’t think of one constructive thing she’s done since replacing her late father who like her politically used & abused Wales to further their political ends. I am genuinely struggling to think of anything she’s done, really I am? Only recently she attempted to jump ship in her failed attempt to become the preferred Tory candidate for the London Mayor but ended up failing miserably. True commitment to Wales, isn’t just.… Read more »

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
23 days ago

After losing her seat, maybe she should write her memoirs – ‘Ramblings of a Tory Turncoat Chancer’.

Annibendod
Annibendod
23 days ago

Natasha Asghar is a bullish and also shameless politician. She weaves false narratives (AKA lies) as vehicles for her attack lines. One of her favourite’s is to say that the Welsh Government underfunds pretty much everything under the sun. She will know that the ball and chain clamped around our ankle is the UK Govt, which is nearly always a Toraidh Govt, that sets the budget via the block grant. She knows full well the destruction wrought by her party’s ideological attatchment to austerity AKA tax breaks for the rich and its consequent erosion of the Senedd’s income thanks to… Read more »

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
23 days ago

Tories across the uk incite hate and abuse on almost a daily basis, giving out far worse than they might receive.

One just has to think of the (now ex-) tory 30p lee racist comments about Sadiq Khan, the defence of the Tory donor of £10million making racist and inciting violence against Diane Abbott, the comments about gypsies and travellers made by “turn-coat” Davies and boris johnson comparing Muslim women to letterboxes, etc.

Richard E
Richard E
23 days ago

Lee W is a well meaning and honest guy totally out of his depth in the murky world of Cardiff Bay politics.

Having your heart in the right place is commendable for sure but being the 20 mph fall guy was predictable…

…….and sadly showed how out of touch from real people he was. As for the multi u turns and false messages of his Tory opponent- he should really have been better advised by colleagues.

A lesson learned?

Jeff
Jeff
22 days ago

It wasn’t a good look but when you have ARTD as a party leader that is basically a brawler in politics, what do you expect.

Have to wonder why they suppress good leaders in the Welsh cons, when Boris was put in charge the standards (such as they were) went out the window along with talented politicos in the Conservatives.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
22 days ago

Lee Waters may well have to answer for some of his words during this spat such as ‘lies’ and ‘hysterical’ but the legitimate use of the word ‘misinformation’ will not be one of them. In her recent article here on N.C., Natasha Asghar FINALLY used the word ‘default’ instead of the previously many times deployed ‘blanket’ on the 20mph matter. It seems she may have been reflecting on her use of words following this row. To the best of my knowledge, she has never explained her accusation of racism against Plaid Cymru – yes the whole party. I am not… Read more »

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