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Pressure mounts on First Minister as opposition parties question ministerial sacking

10 Jul 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

Pressure is mounting on Vaughan Gething as opposition parties in the Senedd circle the embattled First Minister over the sacking of his Social Partnership Minister.

Hannah Blythyn was dismissed from Mr Gething’s cabinet in May following a row over a leak to the media.

The First Minister claimed she had handed screen grabs to Nation.Cymru that revealed he had deleted messages in a ministerial group chat during the height of the pandemic.

Ms Blythyn maintained her innocence in a speech to the Senedd on Tuesday (July 9) where she revealed how the last few weeks had affected her mental health.

The Delyn MS’s account appeared to be at odds with the Mr Gething’s claim that she was the source of the leak.

Ms Blythyn received a round of applause from some Senedd politicians in the Chamber after delivering her statement – but the Labour divide was clearly visible with several members looking away from the axed minister whilst she spoke.

Proof

Opposition party leaders in the Senedd responded to the statement with fresh calls for the FM’s resignation and proof that the former junior minister had breached the ministerial code.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds praised Ms Blythyn for her bravery in returning to the Welsh Parliament after being signed off sick with “acute anxiety and distress” as a result of her dismissal.

Ms Dodds said: “I would like to thank Hannah Blythyn for the exceptional bravery that she showed by opening up about her struggles with mental health over the past few months.

“Her criticism of the way in which she was relieved from her duties further shows the lack of accountability and transparency that has clouded Vaughan Gething’s term as First Minister.

“The First Minister has already lost the confidence of the Senedd, for the sake of Welsh democracy he must resign.”

Leader of the Tories in the Senedd Andrew RT Davies said the people of Wales were “sick” of the First Minister “ducking scrutiny”.

Mr Gething, who won the Welsh Labour leader election in March, faced a no-confidence motion on June 5 less than three months into his scandal ridden tenure.

Both Ms Blythyn and former Deputy Minister Lee Waters failed to take part in the confidence vote because they were off sick.

Mr Gething ignored the result of the vote and has carried on as First Minister since.

A Labour source told us Mr Gething had timed the sacking to distract from rows over donations to his leadership campaign from a convicted polluter.

Andrew RT Davies said: “This saga is one of the key reasons Vaughan Gething lost a vote of confidence on the floor of the Senedd, and still it is not resolved.

“If the First Minister does not make a further statement on this pressing issue, we will explore ways to bring him to the Senedd.”

Evidence

The Welsh Conservatives have tabled a topical question for Wednesday afternoon (July 10) calling for the First Minister to admit that Ms Blythyn was sacked without sufficient evidence that she was guilty of leaking messages.

Plaid Cymru are also expected to press for answers during Plenary today.

Mr Gething claimed he followed guidance – but it’s unclear what the guidance was because the Cabinet Handbook is regarded as a highly confidential document that cannot be viewed by the public.

Ms Blythyn says she was not shown any evidence before being sacked and was not advised that there were allegations she had broken the ministerial code.

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has also called on the First Minister to publish all the evidence which supported his decision.

In a letter to Mr Gething, Mr ap Iorwerth said: “Your authority as First Minister has been significantly undermined by your acceptance of a £200,000 donation and your subsequent disregard of the result of a Senedd vote of confidence.

“We again have two conflicting accounts pertaining to the allegation of the unauthorised release of information which casts a further cloud on your ability to govern without distraction.”

The Welsh Government has said it will not be responding to the personal statement made by Ms Blythyn.

Welsh Labour did not respond to our request for a statement.


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Brad Steel
Brad Steel
4 days ago

FM’s like PM’s can sack ministers for any reason they like. That’s why there’s no lengthy employment tribunal after every cabinet reshuffle.

Howie
Howie
4 days ago
Reply to  Brad Steel

Except he stated it was due to a leak by her and he had evidence, if he did not, then that is a lie that he should rightly be held to account for.

Robarto
Robarto
4 days ago
Reply to  Brad Steel

I don’t think you can compare a (routine) cabinet reshuffle with a sacking (and a very public sacking with no evidence produced to justify the sacking). The impact on the mental health of the person sacked is clear to see. Surely if we are to build a decent society and rebuild trust in politics then we should expect more of our leaders. Not a great example to set I’m afraid.

Brad Steel
Brad Steel
4 days ago
Reply to  Robarto

It’s identical in the sense that you have the job one day and it’s gone the next. You can certainly make the case for being nicer about it but the debate seems to be focused on employment practices which is nonsense.

CapM
CapM
3 days ago
Reply to  Brad Steel

It’s the opposite of identical as the person sacked was declared in a very public way by her boss as having been in effect treacherous towards him..

Gething has refused to provide evidence of the treachery by the person sacked. He could have sacked Blythyn without any explanation but he chose to do so in this way that appears to be an unjustified punishment and warning to others.

This is the way of a weak tin pot dictator striving to appear ruthless.

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
4 days ago
Reply to  Brad Steel

It looks as though the difference here is that .. “ The First Minister claimed she had handed screen grabs to Nation.Cymru that revealed he had deleted messages in a ministerial group chat during the height of the pandemic.” if that is the case and she did not do it then she is being accused of something for which she is innocent. I’m sure that as a Solicitor VG would be well aware of that which makes me think that there is more to this issue than we know. Either way He should take the bull by the horns and… Read more »

Brad Steel
Brad Steel
3 days ago
Reply to  Old Curmudgeon

His mistake was giving an explanation, not the sacking.

CapM
CapM
3 days ago
Reply to  Brad Steel

His mistake is thinking that he’s First Ministerial material.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
4 days ago

No accountability from Vaughan Gething or his mates 🙄 Unfortunately I believe that as long as Keir Starmer backs him he won’t be going anywhere 😒😠

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
4 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

I can’t understand why he’s backing him because the longer this goes on the
more incompetent Welsh Labour appear but Starmer does seem to be starting in a purposeful way so perhaps this is part of his plan to show that the Welsh Government isn’t able to put its own house in order. Interesting times ahead.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
3 days ago
Reply to  Old Curmudgeon

Because the Labour party – both here and in Westminster – are out of touch with public opinion.

They are used to winning (in Wales, particularly) by default and therefore they do as they please because they know that they won’t be held accountable by the Welsh electorate.

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
3 days ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

I think you’re right and (if it wasn’t for the fact that this reprehensible incompetent First Minister will be making decisions that could be life changing for a number of people in Wales ) He should carry on as he has been with his party sitting behind him and let the public decide. But meanwhile Wales needs to be governed.

Billy James
Billy James
3 days ago

Absolutely failed to answer the questions about this matter….

Go Hannah certainly the whole of North Wales backs you against this truly vain arrogant individual……

Elaine
Elaine
3 days ago
Reply to  Billy James

I wasn’t surprised by his answers but I am appalled by them.
I truly felt for Ms Blythyn having to listen to what essentially amounted to being called a liar in open session, particularly with Gething doing his more in sorrow than in anger routine.
I have no difficulty in believing that her dismissal was intended as a distraction. I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Labour meeting tomorrow.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
3 days ago
Reply to  Billy James

I don’t back any of them. Most of them were more than happy to put party before country by backing him (remember the enthusiastic table banging) and are only now re-thinking their support because they’ve belatedly realised that this saga is going to hurt their electoral prospects in 2026.

The only two who did not vote for him did not have the courage of their convictions to say they wouldn’t back him publicly.

Get the whole lot out.

Last edited 3 days ago by SundanceKid
Adrian Bamford
Adrian Bamford
3 days ago

He is our version of Boris Johnson, but worse. Labour were constantly screaming for Johnson’s resignation, but they’re strangely forgiving of this despicable little squirt.

Brad Steel
Brad Steel
3 days ago

Why don’t all the party leaders offer to jointly review the evidence in private to see if they share the FM’s conclusion.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
3 days ago

Enough drama. We don’t have time for any of this while our NHS and education services are being “stuffed”.

Vote them all out at the next Senedd election.

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