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Labour accused of ‘stitching up’ PCC candidate selections in Wales

17 Nov 2023 5 minute read
Andy Dunbobbin has been reselected for the North Wales role. Picture Mandy Jones

Martin Shipton

Welsh Labour members are alleging that the party has stitched up its candidates for all four Police and Crime Commissioner roles in Wales in advance of elections to be held in May 2024.

On November 16, candidates were named by Labour for all four PCC posts in Wales.

But for many members of the party, the announcements came as a complete surprise.

One member, who did not wish to be named, contacted Nation.Cymru to say: “I am not aware of any selection process or members being involved in the selections in any way. This is extraordinary. I would expect there to be a contest for these roles where members could vote for the best candidate. It seems like a complete stitch-up.”

A senior Welsh Labour source, who also spoke on condition they weren’t identified, told us: “This is what the Labour Party is like now. As a party member I received an email in the middle of October saying that members had a few days to decide whether to put their names forward. This is an absolute disgrace and clearly designed to favour a select few. It’s wholly undemocratic.

“It doesn’t bode well for the selection of Senedd candidates once the ‘closed list’ system is introduced. There’s every likelihood that candidates who are favoured by the party hierarchy because they won’t rock the boat will find their names at the top of the lists.”

Electoral system

Under the electoral system proposed for the expanded Senedd – where the number of MSs is due to rise from 60 to 96 – members of the public will only be able to vote for a political party rather than for individuals. The position of candidates on the lists will be determined by the party.

Sitting commissioner Andy Dunbobbin has been reselected for the North Wales role, while the other three force areas have new candidates.

In South Wales the current commissioner Alun Michael, who has held the post since it was inaugurated in 2012, is stepping down, having celebrated his 80th birthday in August. After being a Cardiff councillor, he served as MP for Cardiff South and Penarth from 1987 until becoming the PCC. During his time in Westminster he was a Home Office Minister and Secretary of State for Wales.

He was controversially elected as the leader of Welsh Labour in 1998 amid allegations of a stitch-up when he beat Rhodri Morgan thanks to a party electoral system seen by many as undemocratic. He became First Secretary of the then National Assembly for Wales in 1999, but was forced out of office less than a year later in a row over EU funding.

Mr Michael’s successor as Labour candidate for South Wales PCC has been named as Emma Wools. Ms Wools is currently the Deputy Commissioner. A statement on the South Wales PCC’s website says: “Emma Wools assumed the role of Deputy PCC on November 14 2016 and is seconded from the National Offender Management Service in Wales (NOMS) … The purpose of the role is to support the PCC in his work.

“Emma has led a multi-agency team working in collaboration with a wide range of internal and external agencies, identifying and implementing opportunities for integrating services across the criminal justice system in Wales. Working for probation since 2001, Emma began her leadership journey coordinating Integrated Offender Management in Cardiff. She was instrumental in developing this beacon of good practice which contributed hugely to the current partnership landscape in Wales and national strategy and policy.

“ … The Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association, which is a charitable organisation that aims to create a network of women and girls of ethnic minority origin in Wales to provide beacons of inspiration for current and upcoming generations, held an award ceremony in May 2023. This is held every two years. Emma was recognised for her management and leadership and received an award in this category.”

Gwent police

Newport council leader Jane Mudd has been selected as the PCC candidate for the Gwent Police area. The post is currently held by former Caerphilly Assembly Member Jeff Cuthbert, who is standing down. First elected as a councillor in 2012, Ms Mudd became leader of the Labour group and therefore of the council in 2019. She told the South Wales Argus: “I am delighted to have been selected by the Labour Party to represent the party in the 2024 PCC election. At this stage in the process I am a candidate. In the meantime I continue to work with my administration to deliver our Labour commitments to the people of Newport.”

Former diplomat Philippa Thompson will be Labour’s candidate in the Dyfed-Powys force area. At one time deputy head of press and public affairs at the British Embassy in Paris, she was later Deputy High Commissioner for the Seychelles. She was an unsuccessful Parliamentary candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire in 2017 and 2019 and failed to get elected to Pembrokeshire County Council in 2022 to represent a ward in Haverfordwest.

Ms Thompson is also a former media and policy adviser to Eluned Morgan, now Health Minister in the Welsh Government. She also stood unsuccessfully as Dyfed-Powys PCC at the last election in 2021, losing to Plaid Cymru’s Dafydd Llywelyn.

Welsh Labour has been invited to comment.

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6 months ago

It appears to me that Labour has given up on local democracy and has become Stalinist in its control in order to stamp on any dissent from the Party Line under the Starmer regime. Don’t count of my vote!

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