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Tension between Labour MSs and UK Labour following no confidence vote in Gething

17 Jun 2024 6 minute read
Screengrab taken from Senedd TV of First Minister Vaughan Gething during a Senedd committee hearing ahead of a vote of no confidence in him. Photo credit should read: Senedd TV/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

The vote of no confidence passed in First Minister Vaughan Gething has led to tension between members of the Senedd Labour group and the party’s whips office at Westminster, we have been told.

Mr Gething lost the vote earlier this month when two Labour MSs – Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters abstained on the motion that was supported by all three opposition parties. He has, however, refused to resign.

The motion, moved by the Welsh Conservatives, condemned Mr Gething for accepting donations totalling £200,000 to his Welsh Labour leadership campaign from a businessman who received two suspended jail sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge in the protected landscape of the Gwent Levels.

Disclosure

It also referred to the dismissal by Mr Gething of Social Partnership Minister Hannah Blythyn for allegedly leaking iMessages to NationCymru from a group ministerial chat that took place while the Welsh Government was managing the Covid crisis. In one of the posts, Mr Gething said he was deleting messages because they could be open to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. He later told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that he hadn’t deleted messages personally, but that some had been deleted when his mobile phone was being refitted.

Ms Blythyn has strongly denied leaking the screenshot, and senior civil servants have subsequently stated that they have no knowledge of a formal leak inquiry having been undertaken by the Welsh Government.

In the run-up to the no confidence vote, both Ms Blythyn and Mr Waters, who had been critical of Mr Gething’s decision to accept the £200k “dodgy donations”, provided sick notes to the Senedd Labour group’s chief whip Jane Hutt, who accepted that they should not attend or vote.

But a Welsh Labour insider has told us: “After Jane Hutt accepted the sick notes and decided they did not have to attend or vote, Mark Tami, Labour’s deputy chief whip at Westminster contacted Hannah and urged her to vote. Although Hannah used to work for Mark and has a high regard for him, she saw this as unacceptable pressure and reported his approach to Jane Hutt, who agreed that it was wrong and undermined her position as chief whip for the Welsh Government.”

We contacted Mr Tami, who is seeking re-election to Westminster as the MP for Alyn and Deeside. When it was put to him that by contacting Ms Blythyn he had upset both her and Ms Hutt, he replied: “I don’t know anything about that. I used to work with Hannah and consider her a friend. If you can’t talk to your friends, who can you talk to?”

Imposed

Meanwhile concerns over the way in which a close ally of Keir Starmer was imposed on Cardiff West constituency Labour party as its general election candidate have not abated. Alex Barros-Curtis, Labour’s executive director of legal affairs, was selected by a panel appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee after long-standing MP Kevin Brennan decided not to stand again after all.

The lateness of Mr Brennan’s decision meant that grassroots members of the local party had no say in choosing his successor in the safe Labour seat. Since Mr Barros-Curtis’ selection as the candidate, UK Labour has decided to discontinue a legal case brought against five former members of the party’s staff for allegedly leaking a report that described how other party employees who were opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership worked against him, damaged the party’s electoral chances and sent abusive messages about senior figures.

The aborted legal case, which was driven by Mr Barros-Curtis, is expected to cost the party millions of pounds in legal costs.

A leaflet promoting Mr Barros-Curtis is currently being distributed in Cardiff West, but noticeably does not include an endorsement of him by former First Minister Mark Drakeford, who represents the seat at the Senedd.

A Welsh Labour insider told NationCymru: “Mark has so far refused to endorse him, saying that the way he was imposed on the constituency has angered many members of the local party, including himself. Mark has said that Alex Barros-Curtis has a lot of work to do to earn the trust of local party members. Many such members are not campaigning for him.”

Teacher

NationCymru has also been contacted by a former teacher at a school in London where Mr Barros-Curtis has been chair of the governors.

Sarah Amissah took out a grievance after finding that a senior teacher at the school had written an email to a colleague when she sought a pay rise she was entitled to. The teacher asked whether he should “take a contract out” on Ms Amissah. She found this very upsetting and felt that the individual who investigated the matter, and Mr Barros-Curtis as chair of the governors, did not take the matter seriously enough.

Ms Amissah is now taking the matter to an Employment Tribunal, and the case is listed to be heard in 2025. She told us: “I find it deeply troubling that despite Mr Barros-Curtis’ high-profile role within the Labour Party, overseeing compliance and disciplinary actions, he has failed to uphold these principles in his position at Grafton Primary School.

“I initially raised a grievance with him, which was ignored. More alarmingly, despite being aware that a teacher at the school sent an email implying and suggesting hiring someone to kill me, Mr Barros-Curtis has not taken any appropriate action against the individual involved.

“This blatant disregard for serious complaints and the lack of action is particularly concerning given his responsibilities within the Labour Party to address complaints of antisemitism and other serious issues. It raises questions about the consistency and integrity of his approach to disciplinary matters in different roles.

“I hope that shedding light on this situation will prompt a more thorough examination of Mr Barros-Curtis’ conduct in all his professional capacities and lead to appropriate action being taken to address the serious concerns I have raised.”

We left a detailed voicemail message for Mr Barros-Curtis, but he has not responded.


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Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
26 days ago

I’d read about this aborted costly legal case that Barros-Curtis had been a driving force for, which has cost the party millions before. Incidentally that case concerns a leak too and it seems obvious it’s been dropped because the party has no proof the 5 staffers concerned were responsible.
In a similar fashion I don’t think Vaughan and co can prove Hannah Blythyn was the source of the leaked WhatsApps either. I believe Hannah.

This latest info about Barros-Curtis confirms his judgment is atrocious. My advice to voters in Cardiff West is vote for a different candidate.

Adrian
Adrian
26 days ago

After 25 years of Labour and its Plaid poodle Wales is a basket case by pretty much every metric you could name. The crowning political glory is that we now have our own version of Boris Johnson in charge. He’s partial to dodgy cash, bare-faced lies, and the manipulation of procedure to suit his own ends. He’s so thick skinned that, even after being told he’s useless, he refuses to go. He’s racked up more scandals in two months than Johnson managed in two years yet, unlike the case of Johnson, there are no cries from Labour for his resignation.… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Adrian
Paul Symons
Paul Symons
26 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Appointing someone just because they’re competent is bound to contravene some equality ruling. Isn’t it a known situation that once you promote some to beyond their capabilities they surround themselves with people who don’t show them up. The Senedd as it has been lately is a bit
Like a cross between Yes Minister and Father Ted. It’s difficult to believe that some of these stories are true.

CapM
CapM
26 days ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

Enjoy your trips to Merthyr bois.

Adrian
Adrian
26 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Thanks. I was working away sadly. Watched it on catchup though: fantastic!

CapM
CapM
26 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Glad that you’ve come out.(at last)
Rather than being negative about all Reform’s political opponents can I look forward to you explaining why Reform’s policies are better and why they are realistic and achievable?

Last edited 26 days ago by CapM
Adrian
Adrian
26 days ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

Yes, it’s called the Peter Principle: everybody gets promoted to the level of their incompetence. Nowhere is it more true than in politics.

Last edited 26 days ago by Adrian
Gareth
Gareth
26 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Warwick, are you doing it again?

Adrian
Adrian
26 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

I fear you may be somewhat confused.

Gareth
Gareth
26 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Warwick, please make your mind up, are you Adrian or Warwick Stanton, when I replied to Warwick asking for an explanation to a post,Adrian answered saying ” I didnt need to explain” remember, on the Farage post.

Last edited 26 days ago by Gareth
jim
jim
26 days ago

I can see that the details of internal Labour Party policies is of interest to some, but would it not be more productive to focus this level of forensic analysis on policy proposals (and perhaps the record on delivery in Wales)?

Chris
Chris
26 days ago
Reply to  jim

Ahh the see no evil, hear no evil approach we’ve come to know and love from Labour supporters… “nothing to see here, move along now!”

John Ellis
John Ellis
26 days ago

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn proved, very quickly and quite unambiguously, not to be the preferred leadership preference for the majority of Labour MPs even though he was the overwhelming choice – indeed, twice over! – of Labour members and affiliates was a dubious turn of events. It certainly didn’t turn out well for Labour. Now the signs are that this history has repeated itself within Labour in our Senedd. I doubt that the ultimate outcome, over time, will be any better on this occasion either. It’s the Senedd members who have to work most closely with their leader, and… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by John Ellis
Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
26 days ago

Has Vaughan Gething gone yet?
I’ve been away for a few days and haven’t had a chance to catch up with the Welsh news, but I’m sure there must be a new scandal, but can’t find it anywhere!

Chris
Chris
26 days ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

The man has no shame, of course he hasn’t gone. We’ve now seen all the excuses for him not recusing himself of the role, I’m sure more will follow… Two people weren’t at the no confidence vote so he doesn’t have to go, “it’s just advisory” and of course the old favourite race card. Anyone questioning Vaughan’s integrity must be a racist, nothing to do with the dodgy donation, nothing to do with the back room meddling in NRW processes (which just so happen to benefit his dodgy benefactor), nothing to do with the myriad of other dodgy deals and… Read more »

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