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Welsh Labour accused of ‘rigging’ leadership election in favour of Vaughan Gething

01 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething MS & Jeremy Miles MS

Martin Shipton

Welsh Labour has been accused of seeking to rig its own leadership contest by signposting union members to messages of support for Vaughan Gething before they cast their vote.

The election between Mr Gething, the Economy Minister, and Education Minister Jeremy Miles is already mired in scandal involving union stitch-ups and donations totalling £200k to Mr Gething from a waste company run by a director with two suspended jail sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the sensitive wetlands landscape near Newport known as the Gwent Levels.

We can now reveal that many thousands of members of trade unions which are affiliated to the Labour Party were sent emails by Welsh Labour General Secretary Jo McIntyre that clearly provided information in a way that favoured Mr Gething.

Websites

Nation.Cymru was contacted by a trade unionist who sent us the email they had received from Ms McIntyre which included instructions on how to vote electronically. The email also contained links to the websites of unions and other organisations that are affiliated to the Labour Party.

The trade unionist who contacted us didn’t want to be identified, but told us: “I’m a union member and was interested in seeing which unions were backing which candidate in the Welsh Labour leadership contest. So I clicked on the links in the email I received from Labour’s Welsh General Secretary.

“To my surprise the links for all the unions that were supportive of Vaughan Gething took me straight to that endorsement. The links for the unions and societies supporting Jeremy Miles all took me to a generic web page that gave no indication of their support.

“This is not a level playing field and it’s clear that Labour’s Welsh General Secretary is endorsing this bias. The ballot is being rigged by the Labour Party and it doesn’t feel right.”

Endorsements

We checked what the trade unionist had said and his claims were entirely accurate. Those following the links to unions and other societies that nominated Mr Gething would immediately see prominent endorsements for him. The links to the unions and societies backing Mr Miles did, as the trade unionist told us, direct readers to generic web pages that had no reference to the fact that the organisations concerned had nominated Mr Miles.

The votes of union and other affiliated members could be crucial to the result of the contest and determine who becomes Welsh Labour leader and First Minister. While Welsh Labour itself has less than 20,000 members, there are more than 100,000 members of affiliated unions and other societies.

Affiliated members are allowed to participate in the election on exactly the same terms as ordinary party members, with each individual getting one vote. So affiliated members outnumber ordinary party members by more than five to one, although turnout among affiliates has in the past been very low. That explains why Mr Gething’s campaign has devoted much of its energy to getting union affiliates to vote for him.

Mr Gething managed to win the nominations of all the so-called Big Six trade unions: Unite, Unison, GMB, Community, CWU and USDAW. None of these unions balloted their members to seek their opinions on which of the two candidates should be nominated.

Most controversially, when it appeared that Unite’s political committee was about to nominate Mr Miles, the union’s “Regional Secretary” for Wales, Peter Hughes intervened to misuse a recently passed rule to ensure that Mr Miles was disqualified and the nomination went to Mr Gething.

Damaging

Responding to the discriminatory way in which information had been sent by Welsh Labour’s General Secretary to union members and other affiliates, a former Welsh Labour Minister told us: “If this is true, then it is a pretty clear signal that the system is being rigged for one candidate. Union stitch-ups, donations from law-breaking companies, and now this. This is damaging not just to Welsh Labour, but to devolution as well.”

A Welsh Labour insider said: “The easiest thing to do would be to standardise the information for union members. Treat each nomination the same. You expose yourself to accusations if you choose not to. Both candidates have union nominations and when you click on the link it should be the same experience. I’m sure Welsh Labour will give some excuse but the facts speak for themselves. Very poorly done.”

A senior Welsh Labour figure said: “Everything is pointing towards a concerted effort by the party’s establishment to impose Vaughan Gething as the leader and First Minister.

“There needs to be a thorough investigation into this election, which has brought the party into such disrepute. Everything about this election is wrong – the union stitch-ups, the acceptance of dodgy donations, the way voting has been organised and rigged for the benefit of Vaughan Gething. It’s completely unacceptable and members have been sickened by these revelations.

If Vaughan Gething wins after all this, many people simply won’t accept him as a legitimate leader. This is no way to elect the next First Minister. It’s a complete disgrace.”

Welsh Labour was invited to comment but did not do so.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Without taking sides (my choice is the riderless horse) that does sound rather ‘Trumpian’…

There is a third way as the Senedd could choose whoever they like…

Failing that let the people decide, but then they would have to be given a choice…

Freedom from Westminster and no Nuclear Power…or more of the same…

Clear the North of Tory MSs is a priority

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
A.Redman
A.Redman
1 month ago

What a tangled web they weave.No real surprise. Politics is a dirty game and needs calling out for what it is.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

I honestly wonder if starmer and his band of miscreants have their slimy hands over this!

Maesglas
Maesglas
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Very likely.

Elaine
Elaine
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

I believe this is about avoiding Daily Mail headlines about Labour splits/divisions by nullifying Wales’ voice. No wonder Gething was endorsed by the anti devolution campaigner Neil Kinnock.
He’ll have as much democratic legitimacy as Sunak does as PM.

Maesglas
Maesglas
1 month ago

More Labour stitch-ups. When will they start doing what they are paid to do: solve problems that can benefit the people?

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
1 month ago

These branch office shenanigans should be more widely exposed and used to challenge the leadership in HQ. Is Labour a party committed to fairness and democratic principles, or does it endorse dodgy donations and rigged elections? The British electorate needs to know. The evidence provided recently by Mr Shipton indicates that there must be a strong case for re-running the election.

Rob jones
Rob jones
1 month ago

It is so obvious even dripford says Gethin taking a £200,000 bribe is okay

John Williams
John Williams
1 month ago

Abolish the welsh assembly
We get fifth rate politicians in wales
Long live Westminster

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago
Reply to  John Williams

The Welsh Senedd is our parliament. It is unfortunate that organisations controlled from outside Welsh get voted by the people of Wales. We have no formal informative mass media in Wales. We have our own parties Plaid Cymru, Gwlad and soon the Welsh Green Party. We want to be an independent country like others in Europe. As for the UK parliament : UK politicians are elected by the same FPTP election system used by dictator Lukashenko to ensure him and his party automatic re-election in Belarus. The other house is completely unelected. Do the English have any say on the… Read more »

Peter Howell
Peter Howell
1 month ago

Surprise surprise. Who would have guessed that.

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