The senior Welsh Labour MPs who have failed to publicly welcome the Plaid-Labour agreement
The deputy leader of Welsh Labour and new shadow Wales secretary are among the majority of the party’s MPs who haven’t publicly welcomed the cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru in the week since it was announced.
Neither Carolyn Harris or Jo Stevens have mentioned the agreement, which First Minister Mark Drakeford said would help deliver “radical change” like free school meals for primary school pupils, on their social media accounts since its publication last Monday.
Just four of 22 Welsh Labour MPs have commented on the agreement with varying degrees of enthusiasm, further fuelling the perception of differences between Labour MPs and MSs. By comparison, at least five Welsh Labour MPs have tweeted this week about a by-election in England.
Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter gave the most fulsome endorsement, writing on Twitter: “Well done Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru on a progressive deal that benefits the people of Wales. From an extension of free school meals to improvements in social care, rent controls and free child care, this will be good for the people of Wales.”
On the same day, Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones wrote on Facebook that “this agreement with Plaid Cymru on a limited set of policies helps to make sure we have stability over the coming years.”
Some six days later, Llanelli’s Nia Griffith wrote on Saturday that she was “Glad to hear Plaid Cymru are supporting [the] Prif Weinidog and our excellent progressive Welsh Labour policies inlc[uding] extending free school meal provision.”
DT Gerald Jones MP 🇬🇧🏴🏳️🌈: RT Nia Griffith MP: Glad to hear Plaid Cymru 🏴 are supporting Mark Drakeford and our excellent progressive Welsh Labour policies incl extendi… https://t.co/9pUEIFG4DJ
— Tweets MPs Delete (@deletedbyMPs) November 28, 2021
The message was shared by Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty and Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney Gerald Jones, although Jones later deleted his tweet.
Later the same day, Swansea West MP Geraint Davies issued a similar message saying: “Diolch Plaid Cymru for joining [the] Welsh Labour government in radical plans from free school meals in primary schools & 2-year olds childcare to tackling the housing crisis, supporting family farms & accelerating to net zero.”
Nia Griffith’s message was called “gutter politics” by Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor amid claims that the Labour MP was claiming credit for delivering free school meals solely for her party.
Plaid Cymru councillor Gary Pritchard responded: “It’s a shame that Labour’s Welsh MPs aren’t as grown up an open to collaboration as their Members in the Senedd.”
Newport West’s Ruth Jones and Neath’s Christina Rees retweeted positive messages about the agreement.
Senior Labour MPs however were notable by their absence on the issue. Carolyn Harris has published or shared over 30 tweets since the deal was announced last Monday without mentioning it, while Jo Stevens has commented on Toy Story and the by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup as well as sharing a message about the Scottish Government’s policies.
Professor Richard Wyn Jones recently suggested Mark Drakeford is “just too Welsh” to be held up as a success story by UK Labour.
“Given that the wider Labour party is currently so short on success stories and, in particular, is failing to attract back leave voters, it may seem surprising that it continues to make so little of Drakeford,” he said.
“No doubt it is in part a reflection of a general lack of interest in, or knowledge of, Wales: Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley once reported that, in Blair’s Downing Street, Wales was regarded as ‘Scotland’s smaller, uglier sister’. Even with Scottish Labour now a wan shadow of its former self, this prioritisation still holds true…
“Then again, perhaps the first minister is just too Welsh for the British party at large.”