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Unelected Welsh Labour officials ‘threaten to impose new leader on Senedd group if Gething is ousted’

14 Jun 2024 5 minute read
First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

Unelected Welsh Labour officials are threatening to impose a new leader on the party’s Senedd group if Vaughan Gething is ousted, according to senior Labour sources.

If that happened, Wales would be plunged into an unprecedented political crisis.

NationCymru has been told that the threat reflects a growing realisation among those who support Mr Gething that his position as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister is unsustainable and that he will have to step down.

Weeks before he narrowly defeated Jeremy Miles in the leadership election in March, we revealed how Mr Gething had accepted donations totalling £200,000 from a waste company owned by businessman David Neal, who had previously been handed two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels protected wetland landscape near Cardiff.

Also, a screenshot of iMessages from a ministerial group chat that took place as the Welsh Government was managing the Covid-19 outbreak was leaked to NationCymru. It showed Mr Gething stating that he was deleting messages because they would be disclosable under freedom of information legislation.

Disclosed

The material should later have been disclosed to the UK Covid Inquiry, but when he gave evidence to it he denied deleting messages himself and said some were deleted when his mobile phone was serviced by the Senedd’s IT department. The Inquiry has made a statement that it takes the destruction of potential evidence very seriously and is considering what to do about the matter.

The pressure on Mr Gething intensified after he was defeated in a motion of no confidence moved by the Welsh Conservatives at the Senedd and supported by Plaid Cymru and the sole Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds. Two Labour MSs abstained – Hannah Blythyn, who Mr Gething sacked as Social Partnership Minister, accusing her of leaking the screenshot about deleting messages, an allegation she denies and Lee Waters, who has criticised Mr Gething for accepting the £200k from Mr Neal. Both are understood to have had sick notes to excuse their absence.

A senior Labour source told us: “We really are reaching the endgame so far as Vaughan Gething is concerned. What’s being put around is that if he is forced out, the Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) will choose who takes over.

“I don’t believe that is realistic in any way. There would be absolute uproar if, for example, the WEC tried to tell the group that it was imposing someone like [Cabinet Secretary for Education and strong Gething supporter] Lynne Neagle as the leader. I don’t know if they have the technical power to do this, but in any case they couldn’t force Labour MSs to vote for the WEC’s chosen successor as First Minister.”

Right wing

The WEC is controlled by the right wing of Welsh Labour, many of whom back Mr Gething. It has recently shown that it is prepared to do the bidding of UK Labour by rubber-stamping the selection of candidates imposed on Wales by the party’s National Executive Committee.

Another senior Labour source told NationCymru: “I think there’s no doubt that Vaughan will go, and the talk of imposing a new leader on the group is totally unrealistic. I don’t think they can do it under the rules, and I think it’s unimaginable that they would try. It would provoke a massive crisis that would do huge damage to the party.

“My view is that Vaughan’s supporters know that the game is up and are expressing their anger and frustration by coming up with an idea that is completely unworkable. It’s inconceivable that they would actually try to do it. If they did, there would be a much bigger constitutional crisis than there was when Alun Michael [Wales’ first post-devolution leader] was voted out of office just nine months after the Assembly was set up.

“Labour MSs couldn’t, in any case, be forced to vote for a First Minister foisted on them by the WEC. So you could have a situation if this absurd scenario played out where the imposed Labour leader failed to get elected as First Minister.”

Rhodri Morgan

When Mr Michael was forced out of office by a combined vote of the opposition parties, who in 2000 held a 32-28 majority, Rhodri Morgan was quickly installed as the new leader by the group and elected First Minister.

The second Labour source said that in recent days Mr Gething had held a succession of private meetings with members of the Labour Senedd group, some of whom had told him they believed he should resign.

“Vaughan has been aiming for the last 25 years to be First Minister, so psychologically it will be difficult for him to come to terms with the fact that he will have to stand down,” said the source. His supporters should be preparing him for the inevitable.In the past they’ve tended to tell him what they think he wants to hear.”

Last week we alluded to further revelations that were expected to come into the public domain. We understand Welsh Labour is aware of a major story due to break soon which will put further pressure on Mr Gething and will make his continuation in office even less tenable.

Supportive

UK Labour figures have continued to make supportive statements about Mr Gething when asked about his acceptance of the £200k from a convicted criminal, but their defence of the First Minister has not had traction with the public, a large majority of whom have told pollsters that he should have returned the money.

A recent poll also showed that Mr Gething’s approval rating in Wales was even lower than that of Rishi Sunak – a remarkable result in a nation where Labour has been the biggest party for more than 100 years.


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Richard
Richard
1 month ago

The nighmare begins ?

Labour in Wales or/ neu Llafur Cymru ?

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard

No such thing. It’s UK Labour and these shenanigans prove who is really pulling the strings of “Welsh” Labour in the Senedd.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

This must have been all agreed in London three years ago when Drakeford was the boss and we got saddled with the Baroness…

Whatever Gething is in the frame for it was a team effort, questions should be asked of the previous First Minister…

In fact we should call a Senedd election…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Westminster’s fault.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

What do you mean ?

Welsh politicians plough their own crooked furrow…

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 month ago

There is a constitutional problem here similar to that when Blair forced Alun Michael out of a Westminster career into a brief spell as First Minister. Whether it’s spotting badgers or looking at fly tips potential Labour leaders would do well to avoid dodgy situations prior to becoming First Minister.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
1 month ago

What is this imposing it sounds like a banana republic

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 month ago

Maybe, after twenty-five years of Labour government, it might be no bad thing for Welsh Labour to hole itself below the waterline as a consequence of a potential internal convulsion. Decades of one-party rule inevitably ultimately breeds a mix of complacency and arrogance, and in the end turns out to be self-destructive.

The history of Swansea City Council in the 1970s provides a sour instance of this sort of thing. Anyone too young to remember the saga can do a net search for Councillor Gerald Murphy and Emrys Harris.

HarrisR
HarrisR
1 month ago

“The WEC is controlled by the right wing of Welsh Labour, many of whom back Mr Gething”

Is there any other wing than “right” in Welsh Labour? I’ve been watching it since 1997 (and long before). I have failed to see any left wing in any real sense beyond rhetoric & dutiful genuflection to the past safety long dead. The left (if they exist) have been effectively frozen out or respectfully know their place. Corbynism seemed to largely stop at the Severn bridge. Wales’s radical past a convenient blanket over it’s present and its future.

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 month ago

Post-independence, we should ensure that all Welsh organisations adopt democratic standards of fairness, equity, transparency and accountability in all their activities.

Strong unions are a necessary part of our future. Along with strong media – which N.C is becoming – they can ensure that our government remains focused on its task – the betterment of the conditions of everyone who has their home in Cymru.

Garry Jones
Garry Jones
1 month ago

The thought is tantalising – that opposition parties in Senedd might agree on a non-Labour MS as their nominee for First Minister, if that opportunity arises. In which case only one Labour MS would need to abstain or be absent from the vote, for this arrangement to succeed. Or have I missed something here? 

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
1 month ago
Reply to  Garry Jones

Plaid Cymru will never accept a Tory as the nominee and ARTD won’t vote for anyone but himself. Stalemate! Labour’s appointed leader wins by default. A Welsh General Election is required under the new model, in which more left wing candidates will be elected and Labour will be further away from a majority than before.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

It’s hard to ignore that Plaid and the Cons collaborated to try and bring down Mr Gething. Why stop there?

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

If that’s how you define “collaborated” then you can’t ignore the Lib Dem and Labour part in the attempt to bring down Mr Gething.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

That’s for them to answer but PC had the option to give him a written warning with a few absentions while keeping the door open for future cooperation, but chose instead to back the Welsh Cons all the way. This could be the start of a beautiful new relationship.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

Why would they do that? First Ministers, indeed, Prime Ministers, MPs and MSs have stood down for far less than the errors of judgement committed by Gething. Labour are the first to crow about “sleaze” when it’s someone else doing it (see Westminster and Holyrood) but happy to benefit from it when it suits too.

I don’t see that Plaid will do any further deals or “collaborative” work (if that’s what you want to call it) with the Tories. They had a common interest here and that’s where the partnership ends. They are ideological and political opposites.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  SundanceKid

Johnson completely reset the ethics bar in UK politics. And at least he had a formal investigation before the confidence vote. This trial by media is a much bigger problem.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

Scrutiny by Welsh media (at last).
Gething and British Labour in Wales don’t like it.
That’s their problem.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

At last, you say. What triggered the change?

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

Not least NationCymru

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

What triggered the change, not who. Why now?

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

Every Senedd member had “the option”.
And” the option” the majority of Senedd members took was to either support the no confidence motion taken by the opposition motion or not to support Gething taken by two Labour members..

“Written warning”!
Gething is ignoring the fact that a majority of Senedd members do not have confidence in him.
Do you seriously think getting a “written warning” from Plaid Cymru would have been met by Gething with anything other than derision..

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

Politics for Dummies. If PC had extended just enough support to keep him in the game they’d have influence. Now they don’t and may not until 2026.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

What’s the point in having influence with a First Minister who has no influence.
Gething is Starmer’s man in Cymru and will do as he is told to by Starmer.

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

Really great timing, I blame the unions for stitching up JM in the first place

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
1 month ago
Reply to  Erisian

The unions have definitely not come out well over this. How they can in good conscience support someone who took a donation from a group of companies that pleaded guilty to a severe Health & Safety breach over the death of one of its workers in 2019 I don’t know. Unions are meant to be all over health and safety in workplaces and campaigning on that for the benefit of workers. What message does this send out? This came out during the leadership campaign incidentally. Gething had time to say, “I’m unprepared to accept this donation.” He didn’t. He was… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  Yuri Nator

Like many, I have followed this story of dodgy dealings, convicted criminals, missing messages et al.
However, this is the first I have heard about the death of a worker employed by the (convicted) company and chum of the F.M.
If this is true, then as Yuri says, the unions should hang their heads in shame – and demand that Gethin goes NOW!!!
I wonder if any of the F M’s union friends will respond to this??

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

This is the first I’ve heard too and if true (which I suspect it is), it is truly shocking! The media and the opposition need to be all over this. Labour in Wales must be held to account especially as the rest of the UK is about to hand them a supermajority, in which they will feel able to act with impunity!

I wonder if this is the “big news story” due to break soon?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Very Stalinist from those Labour stooges who lurk in the shadows. Welsh democracy lol. They know not of. From an idiocracy under the crooked Conservatives to a sloth Labour autocracy ruled by champagne socialists. It’s do what we say, or else! Our way, end of. You have a choice. Ours. We’ve got to get rid of Labour in Wales. They are along with the Conservatives a political cancer.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Give the job to Mabon, the law of averages says the north gets one go in five…

Valley girl
Valley girl
1 month ago

These unelected Labour lot have been positioned to fend off a Welsh Labour rebellion and to keep the UK intact. Their worst nightmare is Jeremy Miles as he cannot be bought like Vaughan Gething. Bring it on 👊

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Valley girl

But Labour in Wales have backed Gething, effectively putting party before country. They need to go.

The stranglehold this party has had over Wales has gone on for long enough and as they are about to reign supreme in Westerminster, they are showing their true colours.

Howie
Howie
1 month ago

With Starmer making statements that he is prepared to make enemies to get his way, it would not surprise me if a Labour MS is forced out of Senedd, it has happened in current candidate for WM impositions, a new Labour appointed MS under current rules of no by election would be foisted on the Senedd with subsequent consequences.
Then the 3 opposition parties need to put aside their differences to ensure it does not happen, or be complicit in the subversion of democracy in Wales.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Howie

It will be interesting to see what direction the Welsh Conservatives take here given that they have actively worked to undermine and subvert democracy in Wales.

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago

You’re going to get a hell of a lot more unelected quangos when Starmer gets in: it’s in their policy documents. It will be a LOT harder to get rid of powerful, but insidious people after July the 5th.

https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/a-new-britain-renewing-our-democracy-and-rebuilding-our-economy/

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian

What’s your problem with quangos? Take the Audit Commission. Abolished in the Tory bonfire resulting in out of control spending and bankruptcies in English councils including one Conservative council that invested an eyewatering £655m in one solar farm company that the owner used to buy a yacht and private plane. Tell me that quango wasn’t useful.

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

So this Is democracy ?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Why vote

On both sides of the border…

UDI Gwynedd…

Take a peek at the Political Map of Cymru and see that the rump is wagging the dog…

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago

The lynching continues.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
1 month ago

This fiasco is looking more and more like the film “The Death of Stalin” and the succession and in fighting that followed.
Who would have thought the departing of Drakeford would have led to such fun!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

Both Stalin and Blair enjoyed ‘Sofa’ Government, I expect more of that…

Who might ‘quake’ on Clark of Kent’s sofa…?

Beware Red Sonia, Conan the Parliamentarian may turn on you…

Mrs Janice M Rees
Mrs Janice M Rees
1 month ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

I remember when Labour took pride in the clean city. You know, the little things. Trimming overgrown trees, spraying weed killer on those pesky weeds that grow in between paving stones, gutters, rats, in my instance.
I’ve walked in dog muck twice since Xmas, nobody takes any notice of the bylaw any more as there is nobody to enforce it.
It seems that since lock down when it couldn’t be done, and all the money saved by not cleaning the city has gone to feed the greed.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago

It started as a response to austerity when councils seemed to decide to respond to Tory cuts by letting the public realm go, as if to say this is what happens when you take away our money. I suspect the same is happening now with potholes, another “in your face” consequence of budget cuts. Playing politics with communities isn’t what local government should be doing.

Peter Hughes
Peter Hughes
1 month ago

Reform is coming to Wales on Monday morning. They can be the party who finally takes Wales by the scruff and puts right the wrongs that labour has done. Everyone vote Reform

FrankC
FrankC
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hughes

Coming to Wales is about right. Another bunch of right-wing British nationalist coming here to try and tell us they know best. Farage should be in prison not out electioneering.

Iago
Iago
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hughes

If you vote for them you might as well be English.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hughes

#MakeEnglandGreatAgain

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
1 month ago

If this report is true then I think we have a serious issue. Democracy I thought is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” Do we still have a democracy? If so why are we having leaders forced on us? If we don’t then why waste time and money on a pretend election. We have just been remembering those that fought to preserve our democratic rights and surely we have a duty to defend that right.

Noto20mph
Noto20mph
23 days ago

No matter what party you support, this does not bode well for democracy in Wales. Not 1 but now potentially 2 unelected FMs.
We should all be demanding a Senedd election now.

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