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Watch: University political meeting with Tory MS descends into chaos

15 Nov 2023 5 minute read
Natasha Asghar MS during an event at Cardiff University

Emily Price

A political meeting at Cardiff University descended into chaos after protestors challenged a Tory MS for failing to back a Plaid Cymru motion calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East.

The Welsh Conservative shadow minister for transport, Natasha Asghar MS was invited to appear as a guest at the Cardiff Politics Society on Monday evening (November 13).

Students picketed the meeting outside the building and in the corridor whilst others attended the event to question Ms Asghar on her decision to vote against Plaid Cymru’s motion which was debated in the Senedd last week.

In the days leading up to the debate, an amendment was tabled by Tory MS Darren Millar proposing that the word ‘ceasefire’ was removed from the motion and the term ‘suspension of hostilities’ was used instead.

However, this amendment was not voted through and Welsh Conservative MSs subsequently voted against Plaid Cymru’s motion calling for a ceasefire.

Video footage obtained by Nation.Cymru shows protestors with banners chanting, “Natasha, Natasha, you can’t hide, you support genocide” and “shame on you”.

In one of the clips Ms Asghar accuses Plaid Cymru of “sheer racism”.

She can be heard saying: “If you notice, there are parties like Plaid Cymru, who have had Muslim members before. But they’ve had the highest number of defections why? Because of sheer racism.

“And for that purpose it’s really important that Muslim communities realise this that for a party that has unfortunately been really really badly behaved towards Muslims, here in Wales, here in the United Kingdom, it’s very very sanctimonious for that very same party to be standing there saying that we’re really going to support the Palestinian Muslims when they can’t even treat the ones here properly with respect and dignity.”

Plaid Cymru has refuted these allegations.

A spokesperson said: “Elected members should be treated with respect and feel safe when undertaking their duties. Similarly, Members should set an example themselves by not resorting to slurring their opponents and lowering the tone of debate.

“The allegation levelled at Plaid Cymru in this instance is a terrible slur. She should withdraw it and the Conservative party should distance itself from her comments. Plaid Cymru is proud of being a party for everyone and will continue to work towards a Wales that is fair and inclusive for all.”

Tensions have been rising since the Gaza Strip was hit by devastating Israeli air strikes in retaliation to Hamas militants who launched an attack on Israel on October 7.

Critics have accused Israel of indiscriminately killing civilians and committing war crimes by cutting off essential supplies like food, water and fuel.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers congregated in London and across the UK at the weekend calling for an end to hostilities.

The Senedd along with the Scottish Parliament have both called for a ceasefire.

In the video however, Ms Asghar could be heard telling students that Welsh politics has “zero influence on international relations”.

Crises

Adam Johannes from Cardiff Stop the War Coalition said: “Polls show that the majority of people in Britain favour an immediate ceasefire, but the majority of politicians want the slaughter to continue. This is creating a crisis in the political system.

“In one month, Israel has dropped more bombs on the tiny prison that is Gaza than the US dropped on Afghanistan in an entire year at the peak of the war. 40% of the slaughtered are children.

“Many students and young people are shocked at what is happening, and there was anger and pain and trauma at Natasha Asghar’s vote to continue a genocidal war.

“Students picketed the meeting outside to show the level of anger, many also attended the talk to challenge the Tory politician.”

The Senedd regional member for South Wales East told Nation.Cymru she attempted to answer questions put to her by students but she was forced to run from the building via a back stairwell.

Video footage shows Ms Asghar running down some stairs whilst someone off camera can be heard saying, “I hope you have your running shoes on Natasha.”

In a statement Natasha Asghar, Member of the Senedd for South East Wales, said: “Whilst I accept people have the right to protest, the scenes which unfolded at Cardiff University last night were totally unacceptable, and I am deeply troubled to see some of those protesters painting a very one-sided view on social media.

“Chanting all sorts of hateful messages including calling me a ‘murderer’, ramming doors to try to gain access to the room I was in, and pounding on the walls from start to finish is absolutely uncalled for.

“Most of the students in the room were there because they have a passion for politics and wanted to genuinely learn about my role as a Member of the Welsh Parliament and the work we do. I feel incredibly sorry for them that they had to endure this and that a vocal few attempted to ruin their evening.

“Despite repeated attempts to explain my point of view following last week’s vote, and answer their questions, many of the protesters simply would not listen and engage and instead continued disrupting the event because they didn’t like my answers.

“I am not prepared to be bullied and intimidated into not attending important events like these, and I would like to say a huge thank you to my team, the police and the university’s security team for keeping me safe.

“Nevertheless, it was an absolute joy to speak to students from the Politics Society, who asked me some fantastic questions, and I have no doubt many of them have bright careers ahead of them in the political arena.”


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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
6 months ago

I don’t condone the overzealous treatment some protestors appear to have subjected Natasha Asghar to at this event but her allegation that plaid Cymru is ‘racist’ towards Muslims is preposterous (and she should apologise for and withdraw this slanderous and baseless allegation). I won’t need to remind her that when her late father became the first Muslim member of the senedd he did so as a Plaid Cymru candidate. I would also remind her that it’s her party at Westminster which has spent years demonising Muslims (with some of its ministers and MPs openly peddling dog whistle islamophobia)

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

Natasha Asghar has accused Plaid Cymru of ‘racism’. She MUST now fully explain her comments and only when she can point to the irrefutable truth of her accusation will I accept it. However, whether she can prove this or not, she remains a member of a proven racist and Islamophobic party (Boris Johnsons’’Watermelon smiles’, ‘Picaninnies’ and ‘Letterboxes’ comments never condemned by any Tory as far as I can recall) which has many people of colour including Muslims in their ranks. Someone else will have to explain that one. She also stands against our Independence and then says Welsh politics has… Read more »

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago

What a load of bull manure. Certain people (like Ms Ashgar) have defected from Plaid Cymru, not because of racism, but because they are pure chancers who throw their lot at the party who they think will best serve their interests.

R W
R W
6 months ago

Asghar must be suspended from the Senedd until she either apologises and withdraws her slanderous accusation or, alternatively, produces irrefutable evidence to back up her claims.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
6 months ago

It is true that our Senedd doesn’t have direct international influence (likewise the Scottish parliament and, a lesser degree, the Northern Ireland Assembly) but they’re representative of our country, the Senedd speaks our on our behalf.

In passing the motion I, for one, am glad we told the world there must be a ceasefire!

As for natasha asghar, she is an embarrassment to the Senedd for her slanderous comments about Plaid Cymru. She would be better off addressing the racism, including the rampant islamaphobia, within her own party!

tulip
tulip
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

.

Last edited 6 months ago by tulip
David Dobson
David Dobson
6 months ago

Well, that’s politics for you: a whole load of blather. Meanwhile, one man is committing genocide.

Another Richard
Another Richard
6 months ago

The header says there are 11 comments but only seven are visible. What has happened to the others?

NB that while Plaid Cymru has certainly denied Ms Asghar’s claims, the article offers no evidence that the party has actually refuted them. A journalist should know the difference.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago

Plaid is too often a party of denial, projecting some kind of ethical superiority but never doing much in the real world to support that stance.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
6 months ago

I’m not sure, but I suspect it may be to do with garnering sufficient downvotes. I posted something on this thread that wasn’t too popular (I was just positing some honest questions, but the progressives among us weren’t happy with some honest debate), and it’s now gone. Either that, or someone on this site is monitoring the threads and removing comments.

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