Drakeford presence at Labour fringe conference ‘headache’ for Starmer, brief allies
Allies of Keir Starmer have briefed the press that Mark Drakeford’s presence at a fringe event at the Labour conference will be a “headache” for the embattled UK leader.
Drakeford will be speaking at The World Transformed event in Brighton, which is running at the same time in the same seaside resort as the UK Labour Party conference.
But an ally of Labour leader Keir Starmer told the Daily Mail newspaper that the First Minister’s presence will cause problems because it will be harder to dismiss it as a ‘Trot fest’.
“We can’t dismiss the other conference as for crackpot Corbynites when the First Minister of a devolved nation is speaking. His presence is an unhelpful distraction,” the unnamed source said.
Among the events on the agenda at The World Transformed will be Welsh independence.
Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter, former YesCymru staffer Harriet Protheroe-Soltani and politics writer Rhian E. Jones will speak at the event on Welsh independence that will ask “how can this opposition to Westminster be mobilized towards a socialist agenda?”
“Is independence the best possible outcome, and why not further devolution and/or ‘radical federalism’?” the conference blurb says. “To what extent does Welsh independence take account of the country’s race, class, regional and other diversity?”
Other events will include sessions on ‘Should Socialists Be Members of the Labour Party?’ and ‘Scotland’s Indy Ref 2: Scenario Workshop’.
Wales’ First Minister had been criticised earlier this month for attending an event alongside individuals expelled from the Labour Party.
Eluned Anderson, a 21-year-old regional ambassador of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said that Mark Drakeford should not be attending the event.
Mark Drakeford is listed as one of three headline speakers at the event, alongside former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was suspended from the party last October after stating that antisemitism in the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media”.
Other speakers at The World Transformed event on 29 September include director Ken Loach who was expelled from the Labour Party earlier this month.
He had previously claimed there was a “witch-hunt” after four campaign groups were expelled from Labour following criticism of the way Sir Keir Starmer was tackling antisemitism.
Eluned Anderson said: “The First Minister of Wales should not be sharing a platform with members who have been expelled from the party. The damn state of this.”
John Haywood, Labour councillor for Ringwood North in Hampshire, was also among those to criticise the Welsh Labour leader’s decision to appear at TWT.
He tweeted:” Very very disappointed that Mark Drakeford is on the bill at Twit Festival, which is basically a Trot jamboree taking place in Brighton at the same time as UK Labour party conference.“
The Wales Against Antisemitism group also tweeted: “Why does Mark Drakeford, as First Minister of Wales, think it appropriate to speak at this event, given antisemitism controversies involving many of his fellow speakers?”
However, Jewish Voice for Labour welcomed the First Minister’s readiness to appear at the event.
A Jewish Voice for Labour told the Morning Star: “Hurling evidence-free accusations of anti-semitism around like confetti and then attempting to turn people like Jeremy Corbyn into non-persons who must be shunned is absolutely deplorable and dangerous for democracy.
“Those who talk of Labour as a ‘broad church’ are in reality trying to turn it into a narrow sect, a Tory B-team. What is really under attack is a pluralist party in which socialist ideas can be openly and robustly expressed and debated.
“[Mr] Drakeford is clearly having no truck with this censorious nonsense and we wish more politicians were prepared to make such a stand, whether they agree with us or not.
“Disagreement is not hate speech and silencing is not the way to retain members or to gain the confidence of voters.”