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Labour group meets – but fails to discuss Gething crisis

07 Jun 2024 5 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image: Ben Birchall

Martin Shipton

A Labour Senedd group meeting has taken place without a substantive discussion of the crisis affecting Vaughan Gething’s leadership, we have been told.

Instead, the Friday morning meeting on June 7 was mainly devoted to talking about the party’s general election manifesto.

We have been told that UK Labour has decided that despite the passing of a vote of no confidence by the Senedd in Mr Gething on Wednesday June 5, it would not be in the party’s best interests for him to stand down during the general election campaign.

A Labour insider told NationCymru: “There is a growing realisation that Vaughan’s position is untenable and that he will have to resign, but the UK party’s strategists think it would be an unwelcome distraction for that to happen during the election campaign.

“While there is an argument that Vaughan resigning now and being replaced very quickly by Jeremy Miles would calm the situation down, there would inevitably be a backlash from Vaughan’s supporters that would attract negative publicity on a UK level and be damaging to the party while the election campaign was ongoing.”

Further revelations

However, there are concerns that further revelations about the £200k donated to Mr Gething’s leadership campaign by Dauson Environmental Group, owned by convicted polluter David Neal, will continue to damage Labour.

A YouGov poll released this week showed that in a Senedd election, Labour’s lead over Plaid Cymru has been cut to just seven percentage points.

The Labour insider told us: “At the beginning of the group meeting, Vaughan thanked Senedd Members for supporting him in the confidence vote. There was no discussion about his leadership or what comes next in relation to it. Instead the meeting was devoted to discussing the general election manifesto.”

The no confidence motion against Mr Gething was passed by 29 votes to 27, with all opposition members supporting it. Two Labour MSs – Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters – were said to be ill and unable to vote.

Both are known to be unfavourably disposed towards Mr Gething. He sacked Ms Blythyn from her role as Social Partnership Minister, accusing her of leaking the screenshot of an iMessage sent by Mr Gething to a ministerial group chat during the Covid period in which he said he was deleting messages because they would be subject to disclosure under freedom of information legislation.

Lost messages

He later gave evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry in which he claimed he had not deleted messages, but that they had been lost while his mobile phone was undergoing a refit by the Senedd’s IT department.

The Inquiry has said it is taking our disclosure that he deleted messages very seriously, and is considering what action to take.

Ms Blythyn has emphatically denied that she was the source of the leak. Mr Waters has been publicly critical of Mr Gething’s decision to accept the £200k from Mr Neal’s company.

Concern within the wider Labour Party continues to grow about the impact of Mr Gething’s behaviour on the party and on Welsh devolution.

Trusted advisor

One of former First Minister Mark Drakeford’s most trusted advisers, David Llewellyn Davies, also a former chair of Cardiff West constituency Labour party, wrote a message on X which said: “I posted on Facebook earlier why Welsh and UK Labour politicians should not be denigrating a majority vote in our Senedd as a ‘stunt’ or ‘gimmick’. We desperately need a UK Labour government but not at the expense of respecting our hard won Welsh democracy.”

On Thursday June 6 Ms Rathbone told BBC Radio Wales Drive that the “reputation of the Senedd is at risk” and that accepting money from people convicted of environmental offences “is a problem”.

She said the issue had been raised on the doorstep during the general election campaign.

Asked if Mr Gething could brush off the defeat and carry on as before, she said: “I don’t know. It’s a very uncertain environment. We’ll have to wait and see.”

“It is uncomfortable because we’ve all been dragged into this,” she said.

Pressed on whether the First Minister had the confidence of the Senedd, Ms Rathbone added: “Well, he lost the vote. That’s on the public record. I think you’d have to address your remarks to him.”

Ms Rathbone had offered to lend Mr Gething money so he could repay the controversial donations made to his campaign.

Mr Gething has declined to repay the cash.

In an earlier interview she said: “I don’t think it is wise to be taking money from a convicted criminal, and therefore I think it’s important that we enable this money to be repaid if that is what Vaughan Gething wishes to do.”

Vikki Howells, a supporter of Mr Gething’s who chairs the Senedd Labour group, said it would have been a breach of the Ministerial Code for him to have taken such a loan.


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Alun
Alun
10 hours ago

“A Labour insider told NationCymru: “There is a growing realisation that Vaughan’s position is untenable and that he will have to resign, but the UK party’s strategists think it would be an unwelcome distraction for that to happen during the election campaign.”

That’s exactly the position. Starmer is the decision-maker on this issue.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
9 hours ago
Reply to  Alun

But carrying on pretending that nothing is wrong will in the end do much more harm to Welsh Labour, Welsh democracy and devolution in particular, than the potential loss of one or two seats for Kier Starmer through out the UK.

This is turning into the Monty Python Knight’s Sketch, ‘Tis nothing but a scratch!

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
8 hours ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

I agree. It’s a miscalculation. And to call concern over a £200k donation from a convicted criminal a “gimmick” is idiotic in the extreme. It demonstrates just how out of touch Starmer and UK Labour are. They are also willing to risk Wales’ democratic reputation and future just to secure a Westminster victory. Even worse is that Welsh Labour MSs are happy to go along with this.

Chris Hale
Chris Hale
9 hours ago

It will be interesting to see the impact of Vaughan Gething’s behaviour on the result in my constituency, mid and south Pembrokeshire.
We are now a marginal seat after boundary changes, previously having two conservative MP’s for the old seats.
We were previously seen as a likely Labour gain. However, we are also the site of the appalling Withyhedge recycling plant, owned by David Neal, which produces a stench from rotting refuse over the entire area.
Such is the strength of local feeling that the Labour candidate has begged Mr Gething not to visit lest it costs him votes.

HarrisR
HarrisR
9 hours ago

So we go from Alun Michael being Blair’s anointed “man in Wales” at the outset of devolution, to Vaughan Gething being Starmer’s manikin at the… sunset? One thing about all this is how “open” Labour cynicism was and still is. “You can have your little play parliament but don’t forget who you’re beholden to, now off you trot, we’ll decide when/if Gething goes”.

Country before Party? The trick is what “country” and who’s career trajectory.

Chris Hale
Chris Hale
2 hours ago
Reply to  HarrisR

Unfortunately, this seems to be the way the people of Wales are seen, a bunch of backing singers, except if we want something, then we are silenced.
i am pleased we have had two Welsh first ministers who were more focussed on the needs of our country than their careers.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
9 hours ago

“Labour group meets – but fails to discuss Gething crisis”unbelievable, what else was on the Agenda?

Brian Coman
Brian Coman
6 hours ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

Just like they pretended to really talk about the 20mph, and have ignored
479,000 voices in the name of democracy.

SImmo
SImmo
8 hours ago

“Vikki Howells, a supporter of Mr Gething’s who chairs the Senedd Labour group, said it would have been a breach of the Ministerial Code for him to have taken such a loan.”

Out of interest – does anyone know the technicalities of this please i.e. is it a breach of the Ministerial Code to take a loan ?

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
8 hours ago
Reply to  SImmo

I believe the code is a secret not to be shared with the public. Says it all, making it up as they go along

SImmo
SImmo
7 hours ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

https://www.gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-11/ministerial-code-november-2019.pdf

Had a quick scan, but couldn’t find anything in here about lending / borrowing from fellow ministers…

John Ellis
John Ellis
21 minutes ago
Reply to  SImmo

Jenny Rathbone has been a member of the Senedd – under both its names – for well over a decade – in fact, exactly as long as Vaughan Gething has served, and rather longer than Vikki Howells.

I’d have thought that Ms Rathbone would by now be fairly conversant with any such requirement of the ministerial code.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
8 hours ago
Reply to  SImmo

I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but it seems ludicrous to me that taking a loan to enable the donation to be returned could be a breach of the ministerial code but accepting a donation from a twice convicted individual is perfectly okay?

Something is seriously wrong and needs radical reform but it won’t happen because there are not enough decent honest politicians!

SImmo
SImmo
8 hours ago
Reply to  SImmo

Reason I ask is just out of curiosity. I understand that there was something of the order of £30K surplus from the initial loan of 200k , and this was given to the UK Labour pot – however, they didn’t touch it is my understanding (because of where it came from). So, in order to repay this 200k loan, the 30K could be retrieved – requiring that the order 170k be found from somewhere? Not sure if my figures are correct. As I say – just curious …

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 hours ago

What a bunch of clowns. Troi ein Senedd genedlaethol yn anterliwt. This party has been in power for way too long in Wales, over a hundred years now, and they take that untouchable position for granted. The arrogance of some of the Labour members during the no confidence vote was astounding. Emotional blackmail. Trying to guilt trip the opposition that calling the vote was an offence to D-Day veterans. Angen brwsh drwy’r lle a sgubo’r tŷ yn lân.

Why vote
Why vote
7 hours ago

It seems that those who worship at the alter of the labour party may pay a heavy price in future elections, wales will pay dearly for blindly following the modern political process that are now being invented on a daily basis, our fathers and grandfather’s proudly followed labour promising to make lives better, housing, working conditions, transportation, infrastructure, holiday time and pay, medical care, all things that made life better, compared to today zero hour contracts, employed as an associate member of staff ‘self employed’ laws made to force drivers to pay per mile, speed restrictions, backed up with large… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
33 minutes ago

A development which, if it’s true, is both depressing and stupid in roughly equal measure.

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