Plaid Cymru MS accuses Tories of ‘laughing’ during Universal Credit cut debate
A Plaid Cymru Senedd member has accused the Tories of laughing during a debate about a cut to Universal Credit.
Luke Fletcher, who represents South Wales West told the Conservatives in the Senedd that they “should be utterly ashamed” of themselves.
But a spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives denied there was laughing from their benches during the debate and accused the Plaid MS of “playing to the gallery”.
The UK Government has said an increase in benefits to help the poorest families cope with the effects of the pandemic, will end in October.
The £20-a-week reduction will leave claimants receiving £1,040 less a year.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation says this is the biggest overnight cut in the basic rate of social security since the creation of the modern welfare state.
48,737 families in my region will suffer because of vicious cuts to universal credit.
The response from the Tories? Laughter.
They should come with me to visit families in South Wales West to see what the Tory cuts are doing.
They should be ashamed. pic.twitter.com/F60ke6pQCp
— Luke Fletcher AS/MS (@FletcherPlaid) September 15, 2021
During a debate in the Senedd, Luke Fletcher said: “This is about dignity and respect for our fellow citizens, and on this point of dignity and respect, with the evidence – and, of course, evidence collected over the course of almost a decade, by the way – against universal credit, I find it hard to believe that the Welsh Conservatives still defend it.
“Case after case after case where families are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty. And I’ve sat here, as well, through this entire debate, and all I’ve been hearing are Conservative Members on the benches laughing. Laughing.
“You should be utterly ashamed. [Interruption.] No, I will not be taking an intervention, thank you. No, I will not take an intervention. [Interruption.] I will not take an intervention. You have been laughing all the way through this debate.”
He added: “Come with me; come with me to my region. And I’m sure Sarah Murphy as well – we both represent the same area.
“We’ll take you to some of those families who have been affected by the Tory Government, and we’ll see what they think about the fact that you laugh on your benches. You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.
“So, what needs to happen? Well, we’ve outlined in clear terms in our motion, and we’ve elaborated in great detail, what the Welsh Government needs to do.
“A socialist Government would pursue the devolution of welfare as a matter of urgency to tackle poverty in Wales.”
A Welsh Conservative spokesperson told Nation.Cymru: “It’s quite clear that there was no laughing from our benches. The Conservatives were happy to take part in the debate on this sensitive issue to prevent a one-sided discussion.
“Indeed, our MSs tried to intervene on Mr Fletcher’s contribution but he refused, demonstrating the inherent weakness of his argument, so he resorted to playing to the gallery.
“Instead of getting a nice clip for social media, Mr Fletcher should get used to having to defend his viewpoint if he wants to do well in his new role.”