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Labour and Lib Dem candidates row over support for Gething

05 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Mathew Dorrance. Photo Welsh Labour

Martin Shipton

A blistering row has broken out between a Liberal Democrat general election candidate and his Labour rival over support for Vaughan Gething.

In recent decades Brecon & Radnorshire has swung between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, but with an expanded seat taking in the upper part of the Swansea Valley, Brecon Radnorshire and Cwm Tawe is seen by Labour as winnable.

In 2019, the unexpanded seat was won by Tory Fay Jones, who is seeking re-election.

The Welsh Labour candidate for the expanded seat, Matthew Dorrance, has now been challenged in an open letter from Lib Dem candidate David Chadwick over his support for Mr Gething, who is embroiled in a series of scandals, notably over his decision to accept donations totalling £200k from a businessman convicted of dumping toxic sludge in the protected Gwent Levels wetland landscape.

‘Head of Field’

Mr Dorrance served as Vaughan Gething’s ‘Head of Field’ for his leadership campaign and enthusiastically backed him to become leader of Welsh Labour. The letter asks whether he was involved in the decision to accept £200k from a firm controlled by businessman David Neal while it was under criminal investigation.

Mr Chadwick pointed out that opinion polling by More in Common found that a third (32%) of Welsh people think Mr Gething should both resign over the scandal and give the money back. A further 27% think he should give the money back but not resign.

The First Minister is facing a no-confidence vote in the Senedd where Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds has said she will vote against the First Minister, citing a lack of judgement and the fact he has not returned the money.


Mr Chadwick said: “The public is crying out for more integrity in politics and an end to constant sleaze and scandal and that is why I’ve written to our local Labour candidate today.

“Given we go to the polls next month and Labour’s local candidate was a senior member of Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign, voters have a right to know where he stands on the issue.

“The Liberal Democrats are standing on a platform to clean up our politics, including introducing a cap on all political donations and putting an end to WhatsApp deletion scandals.

“I hope that Welsh Labour’s candidate will prioritise integrity in politics and join the calls for the donation to be handed back.”

Mr Dorrance responded: “It’;s a shame that the Liberal Democrat candidate hypocritically talks about integrity and trust and then chooses to indulge in this type of low politics. People in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe deserve better than that.

“I appreciate that Mr Chadwick has only recently moved to Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe, which helps explain why he is so disconnected from the issues residents are focussed on.

“I was born and brought up here, it’s where I live and where I work as a local councillor and deputy leader of Powys County Council. I have a proven track record in serving our communities and fighting for local families. Local people know who I am and what I stand for.

“The Lib Dem candidate is so embarrassingly out of touch with local issues that all he can do is mudsling and engage in personal attacks. Our politics should be better than this and the public are fed up with it. However, I am glad he has highlighted More in Common polling. Their latest data for Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe shows this election will be a close contest between Labour and Rishi Sunak’s Tory candidate, with the Liberal Democrats coming in a poor fifth with just 7% of the vote.

“The Lib Dems don’t have a plan for the country or our communities and in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe only Labour can beat the Tories.”

Text exchange

Mr Dorrance also issued a text exchange between Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds MS and him from the time when Mr Gething was elected in March.

Ms Dodds wrote: “Hi there – could you kindly pass on congratulations / llongyfarchiadau to our new First Minister. Thank you. X”

Mr Dorrance responded: “Of course I will. He’s just nipped off to buy [his son] a game but he’s coming back in a bit. What a day. History made. I’m really quite emotional. X.”

Ms Dodds then sent another message saying: “Across Great Britain, we have black/ minority ethnic leaders in every nation. The world will look at us and see we are way ahead. Glad Vaughan is finding time for [his son] on this historic day – hope you are okay and will find time to celebrate and relax. Take care and stay in touch Matthew. x.”

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