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Starmer to campaign in Wales alongside embattled First Minister

29 May 2024 4 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (2nd left) and Vaughan Gething (left) during a visit to the Port of Holyhead, in March. Photo Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Sir Keir Starmer will head to Wales on Thursday to campaign alongside embattled First Minister Vaughan Gething as campaigning for the general election continues.

The Labour leader is expected to launch his party’s “doorstep offer” to Welsh voters during an event with Mr Gething and shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens in south Wales.

His visit comes a day after it was confirmed that Mr Gething will face a confidence vote in the Welsh Senedd following the collapse of a co-operation deal with Plaid Cymru earlier this month.

The collapse of the deal followed a series of scandals involving Mr Gething, who became First Minister in March and now faces a confidence vote on June 5.

‘Doing a good job’

On Wednesday, Sir Keir gave his backing to the First Minister, telling reporters during a campaign stop in Worcestershire that Mr Gething is “doing a good job”.

As well as discussing Labour’s “six first steps”, Thursday’s event is expected to see Sir Keir recommit to investing in the UK’s steel industry amid concerns about job losses at Port Talbot steelworks.

He is also expected to promise to put Wales at the centre of his party’s plans for cleaner, cheaper energy and to work with the Welsh Government to cut NHS waiting times and recruit more teachers and police officers.

Chaos

Before the visit, Sir Keir said: “This is a chance to vote for a Wales finally free from the impact of Tory chaos and division. To turn the page and start to rebuild our nations – our entire country – and elect a UK government that will serve the interests of working people in Wales.

“These first steps show that a changed UK Labour Party is back in the service of working people in Wales. They show our priorities, what we care about and what the public cares about. Country first, party second.”

Labour has been in power in Wales since devolution in 1999, sometimes on its own and sometimes with the support of the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru.

Mr Gething took over as First Minister on March 20 after his predecessor, Mark Drakeford, retired following six years in office. But his tenure has so far proved rocky.

Donations

In February, Nation.Cymru revealed that Dauson Environmental Group, based in Mr Gething’s constituency, made two £100,000 donations to his campaign to replace Mr Drakeford.

The main director of Dauson, David Neal, has received two suspended prison sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels, a sensitive conservation site near Newport.

Mr Gething has denied that he has “done anything outside of the rules”.

He has also come under fire for deleting messages that should have been passed to the UK Covid Inquiry.

Nation.Cymru published an iMessage sent by Mr Gething to ministerial colleagues when he was Health Minister in August 2020 that stated: “I’m deleting the messages in this group. They can be captured in an FOI [freedom of information request] and I think we are all in the right place on the choice being made.”

He subsequently sacked Hannah Blythyn from his government, accusing her of leaking messages to the media. She has denied those accusations.

Before Thursday’s campaign event, Mr Gething said the General Election is an opportunity to “unleash Wales’s full potential… with two Labour governments working in partnership, ending the churlish Tory war on devolution and backing a stronger Welsh economy”.

‘Poor judgment’

Welsh Conservative leader and Senedd member Andrew RT Davies said Sir Keir’s decision to campaign with Mr Gething was “a reflection of their equally poor judgment” and “should worry us all”.

He said: “Keir Starmer calls Labour in Wales his ‘blueprint’ for government, which should stand as a stark warning for what a Labour-run UK government would look like.

“After 25 years, the Labour Welsh Government’s record speaks for itself and includes the lowest employment, smallest pay packets, steepest decline in education standards and the longest waiting lists in the UK – which have just hit a new record as waits in Conservative-run England fall.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 days ago

Remember Clark of Kent Cymru has had a Labour government for 25 years and we have missed out on European football…

Gary H
Gary H
4 days ago

What a good p r stunt. Former head of CPS supported by someone who takes money off convicted spivs.

Annibendod
Annibendod
4 days ago

Some contrast between Labour’s treatment of Vaughan Gething and Diane Abbott.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 days ago

When will Powys get its own hospital facilities and stop having to sponge on our neighbours.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
4 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

When the population of Powys grows to be big enough.

John Ellis
John Ellis
4 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

That’s the factor. When I was living in north Radnorshire nearly fifty years ago and my eldest was born so hospitals were an issue for us, we had a choice of three: the two in Hereford, the two in Shrewsbury and Bronglais in Aberystwyth. All of them were about forty miles away. That situation’s not changed across the years

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
4 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

And by the way, you’re not sponging by using the closest hospital services to where you live.

Why vote
Why vote
4 days ago

The muppet show tours Wales.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
4 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

That’s unfair Plaid only tours coastal Wales. Happy to be proved wrong.

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