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Video row as Welsh Labour leadership candidates walk away from protesters

20 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Police with Vaughan Gething after Sunday’s hustings

Martin Shipton

Welsh Labour leadership candidate Vaughan Gething has faced criticism after a video appeared on social media of him ignoring farm protesters as he was leaving a hustings meeting in Newtown.

Mr Gething, the Economy Minister, bore the brunt of the negative comments, although his rival Jeremy Miles, the Education Minister, is also seen walking away from the venue without talking to the demonstrators.

Many members of Wales’ farming communities are angry at proposed changes to the agriculture subsidy scheme, under which they will have to plant trees on 10% of their land and make other changes they believe will make it more difficult for them to run an economically sustainable business.

The video shows a small number of farmers following the candidates as they walk briskly through a housing estate.

A police officer physically obstructs the farmers as they shout after the candidates, saying they want to ask them questions. He repeatedly tells them to “stay back”. Those shouting do not use abusive language or swear words, but the candidates show no inclination to stop and talk with the farmers. Instead, the police officer tells them they are breaching the peace.

Scrutiny

In a post to X that was later deleted, historian Martin Johnes wrote: “I fear for the future of our democracy if Gething wins. Welsh Government already has problems with accepting scrutiny. This, and the video of him walking away from a TV interview, suggests things will get worse.”

A Welsh Labour insider sent us a statement which said: “If ever a video summed up a politician it is this one. Vaughan, has previously walked away from tv interviews when he hasn’t liked the questions and he did it again to Welsh farmers. He has never really grasped that power comes with scrutiny. I’d encourage those around him to point this out and not just leap to justify everything he does.”

When Mr Gething was Health Minister he was seen walking away from an ITV Wales film crew in the Senedd after being asked a question he didn’t like. Footage of the incident has been widely shared on social media.

Cordial

A spokesperson for Vaughan Gething’s campaign said: “Following the hustings in Newtown on Sunday, February 18, both candidates held a cordial, constructive and productive meeting with a delegation of the protesting farmers where they emphasised the consultation into the Sustainable Farming Scheme is ongoing.

After the meeting – acting on police advice and as can clearly be seen from a video published on social media – Vaughan and his fellow Welsh Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Miles together left the area accompanied by officers from Dyfed Powys Police.

“Vaughan’s campaign team has since received an email from the representatives of the group thanking him for meeting them. Vaughan has also recently met with representatives from NFU Cymru to discuss the Sustainable Farming Scheme.”

A statement issued by the organisers of the protest – Digon yw Digon, Enough is Enough, said: “[We] wish to thank everyone who took part in today’s tractor protest at the Labour Party leader hustings held in Newtown. We would also like to thank Vaughan Gething MS and Jeremy Miles MS for taking time to speak and listen to the concerns of some of our farmers and representatives of associated industries. We as a farming industry are committed to playing our part in providing food security for all of us, and do not wish to see anyone experiencing food poverty here in Wales.”

Welsh farmer Ioan Humphreys, who posted the organisers’ statement on X, stated: “I was one of the few that got to speak to the Labour candidates behind closed doors. A lot more work needed to make sure they rethink all these policies but it’s a step in the right direction.”


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Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

To be honest if someone was behind me shouting and screaming like that I’d probably run not just walk away.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Farmers have got form for being abusive towards Labour politicians, anyone remember John Prescott?

James Harbron
James Harbron
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

I know the chap who egged John Prescott, very peaceful nice fellow. You have to ask why a normally peaceful person would get so riled? Maybe it’s because Labour consistently gets it wrong. Look at the mess here in Wales, inexorable decline since 1999.

Jen
Jen
1 month ago

Do I detect a strong bias in this article?

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

The subsidies should be tapered down and eventually abolished. They were meant to be a temporary boost to agricultural industry following second world war.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

“They were meant to be a temporary boost to agricultural industry following second world war.”
What’s the evidence for that?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

History.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

“The basis of the post-war settlement for British farmers was laid in the Agricultural Act of I947. are stated in it’s section I. ‘promoting and maintaining.., a stable and efficient agricultural industry capable of producing such part of the nation’s food and other agricultural produce as in the national interest it is desirable to produce in the United Kingdom, and of producing it at minimum prices consistently with proper remuneration and living conditions for farmers and workers in agriculture and an adequate return on capital invested in the industry’.” This is a short extract from British Agricultural Policy Since the… Read more »

Drew Anderson
Drew Anderson
1 month ago

Without knowing the details, this jumped out at me:

“…proposed changes to the agriculture subsidy scheme, under which they will have to plant trees on 10% of their land…”

That doesn’t look at sensible to me; it doesn’t look like it makes any distinction between prime arable, pasture or challenging terrain. A one size fits all policy from people who don’t have much of a clue.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew Anderson

Clearly Welsh farmers want to go back to the good old days of being subsidy farmers, taking public money to keep their businesses afloat without offering anything in return.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Those businesses farmers run are essential for providing and maintaining food security for the whole population.
You make it sound like their businesses are in a similar category to tanning salons and vape shops.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

But they aren’t producing the food we need. They produce a lot of lamb – the vast majority of which is for export and which most Welsh people can’t afford in any case – but very little of the fruit, vegetables and salad that we need (perhaps potatoes are the exception). Wales doesn’t even produce very many leeks, supposedly our national vegetable. What Wales needs is more market gardeners not more sheep farmers. And before you come back with ‘Oh but you can’t grow vegetables on the hills’ I’m well aware of that, but there’s no reason why we can’t… Read more »

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

You keep stated that farmers get public money to keep their businesses afloat without offering anything in return. I’ve drawn your attention to one contribution to the general good, the issue of food security. It is an important issue and is likely to get more acute due to conflicts, wars and climate change. There is a lot that’s sub-optimal about the way we feed ourselves to say the least and it applies to all involved including consumers. It’s not down to farmers alone to take (for the sake of argument) a 20% hit. Even if you think it’s not unfair… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew Anderson

That’s what you get in a policy drafted by a small “one size fits all” brain of a politician. They are too rigid and fixated with their underlying goal to recognise where they need to plan along different lines to secure goals.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

I wish those farmers who voted for Brexit understood the dire consequences of leaving the EU regarding farming subsidies available then to now seeing money is coming out our stretched Welsh block rather than from a separate EU pot. And don’t get me wrong. I’m all for protesting but there’s a fine line between being measured and vocal to using threats and intimidation. Using the latter lose any moral high ground gained. And if a politician ignores scrutiny like both Welsh/UK Labour & Conservatives do. DON’T BLOODY VOTE FOR THEM! Choose a party that has deep roots in those farming… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Correction – both Welsh farming unions raised the alarm when UK Gov went off doing ill conceived trade deals. They are right to focus on their own sectoral interests much as other like manufacturing trades have pipe up regarding how those trade deals damage their welfare.

The big problem with manufacturing is that so many of the major groups are now either foreign owned or owned by big Brit groups who are more concerned with their global performance. That leads to a strategic willingness at times to accept some damage to their UK (&Welsh) interests.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
1 month ago

The Welsh Labour insider quoted is right to point out the widely shared clip of Gething getting irritable and then storming off when asked a further question by an ITV News reporter. Let’s also remember this is the same person who when asked a somewhat but not especially challenging question by Jenny Rathbone, a fellow Labour Member during a Zoom Senedd session in 2020, responded by uttering expletives and revealed an inability to not let his frustration get the better of him. The infamous forgot to turn your mic off incident. I would suggest Gething’s personality is not suited for… Read more »

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago
Reply to  Yuri Nator

Along with his dire Covid Inquirey performance..

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

What other business has to allocate 10% of their premises to plant trees and a further 10% for a nature habitat. Is TATA, BP tesco, safeway, Cardiff airport, small shops, garages,. Can you imagine sainsbury digging up the carpark to plant trees. And put beehives everywhere. The farmers should not be the only business being forced to use its floor space to save the planet.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Why vote

Farmers have a lot more space than Sainsbury. And try looking up the word ‘silvopasture’.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

I don’t think ‘silvopasture’ is the answer. It may be appropriate in some circumstances. Maybe Sainsbury’s and similar could make up the difference due to the associated drop in agricultural production. What % drop in dividends would shareholder accept. What % increase in prices would consumers accept.

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