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Welsh Labour divide deepens over weekend

20 May 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething and his Cabinet – Image Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

A divide in Welsh Labour over the leadership of the First Minister appears to have deepened further over the weekend with one senior source declaring, “we can’t carry on like this”.

It comes amid claims by Vaughan Gething’s backers that scrutiny of him is racially driven.

Sources told Nation.Cymru the comments were made during an emergency meeting on Friday evening of Labour politicians following a tumultuous week which saw one member of the First Minister’s Cabinet sacked.

Plaid Cymru announced on Friday it had axed the co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government over concerns about the First Minister’s judgement.

The agreement was not due to end until December this year.

The Party’s leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “When those around the First Minister are dissenting not consenting, we know that his ability to govern is diminished.

“Finding scapegoats for the purposes of self-preservation is never a good look.”

Pressure

Mr Gething has faced growing pressure since his election over a donation he accepted to his campaign from a convicted polluter.

A previously unseen iMessage sent during the Covid-19 pandemic was also later revealed by Nation.Cymru which appeared to show the then health minister’s intention to delete a discussion with ministers because it could be subject to freedom of information legislation.

In a shock announcement on Thursday (May 16) Mr Gething sacked junior minister Hannah Blythyn after he claimed she had been leaking information to the media.

Ms Blythyn denied the allegation saying: “Integrity is all in politics and I retain mine.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health Eluned Morgan told BBC Politics her understanding is that the leak can “definitely” be traced to Ms Blythyn’s phone.

She added that Ms Blythyn was an “excellent member of the government”.

Fair scrutiny

The First Minister’s supporters have said attacks on him have been racially motivated.

A statement by Welsh Labour’s BAME committee said some of the criticism by the press “has gone well beyond what one can reasonably call fair scrutiny”.

Reacting to the statement, the First Minister’s election campaign manager and Senedd advisor, Stewart Owadally said: “You can either listen to people’s experiences and reflect or you can instantly get defensive and lash out.”

A Daily Mail article about Mr Gething and former Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has been widely condemned by Welsh Labour polticians for using “racially charged language”.

Sharing a screen grab of the article on X, Cabinet Secretary Dawn Bowden said: “Racism is in plain sight for those who want to see it.”

She later added: “The narrative around Vaughan Gething has all the hallmarks of institutional racism that I thought we had left behind a long time ago.”

Tenacity

One senior Labour source told Nation.Cymru they felt the First Minister was being “pursued with a tenacity that is unusual for Welsh politics” without “a single objective reason” for it.

They went on to compare coverage by the Welsh media of the First Minister with that of the former Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Simon Thomas who was sentenced in 2018 for making indecent images of children.

The source said: “It was never mentioned in the Chamber. Not once. And the media coverage was very limited, with no criticism of the leadership of Plaid for not doing due diligence in their selection of him. That’s just one example. There are many others.”

One Labour source who thanked Nation.Cymru for its coverage of the First Minister’s opening weeks in office said they felt Welsh Labour was, “acting in the best interest of themselves and not the country”.

Another senior Welsh Labour source claimed some of their colleagues had “gone overboard” at the weekend.

They said: “Things have got significantly worse over the last week. Relationships are beginning to break down.”

‘Outrageous’

Tory MS Gareth Davies said claims from Labour that criticisms of the First Minister are racially motivated are “outrageous”.

He said: “Maybe it’s more the £200k donation from a convicted offender and sacking a Minister without evidence?

“Is this really the state of Welsh politics when the party in Government resort to this?”

The Welsh Conservatives say it’s “odds on” for a vote of no confidence in the First Minister.

However tabling arrangements and the Whitsun break mean this may not happen for three weeks.

Plaid Cymru are said to be in talks with the Welsh Tories on whether to move together in a vote of no confidence.

Crisis

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say they are glad Plaid have “distanced themselves” from a Welsh Government that is “jumping from crisis to crisis”.

However, if the Tories, Lib Dem Jane Dodds and Plaid Cymru were to unite in a vote of no confidence in Mr Gething, he would survive unless at least one Labour MS voted against him.

Counsel General Mick Antoniw told the BBC that Welsh Labour are united behind the First Minister.

But one senior Welsh Labour source indicated to Nation.Cymru that some Labour MSs are making plans to move against the First Minister in a no confidence vote.

They said: “It’s going to be a horrible few weeks.”

Another senior Labour source said: “The time will come where many of us will have to say something publicly.”

Nation.Cymru does not reveal its sources. 


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
14 days ago

Let’s start again with an election without closed lists…This Gov is a mackerel long dead…

Alun
Alun
14 days ago

Such a poor decision to roll out the race card to try and deter any further criticism.

The arrogance in thinking that people’s opinions and voices will be quelled by resorting to below the belt tactics.

We were told VG was capable of this sort of thing in the run up to the leadership contest, I didn’t think he would turn to these tactics so quickly.

Dean
Dean
13 days ago
Reply to  Alun

Couldn’t agree more. It’s also insulting to Labour voters in Wales.

Adrian Bamford
Adrian Bamford
13 days ago

Gething is dishonest and incompetent. I doubt that him being black has any bearing on those facts.

Last edited 13 days ago by Adrian Bamford
Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
13 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Bamford

But if he’s booted out, playing the race card means he never has to admit he’s incompetent. All part of the arrogance.

Gary H
Gary H
13 days ago

As far as I am concerned, VG sounds Welsh, lives in Wales, has a Welsh name, like me has a non-Welsh mother, was educated in Wales etc etc. He is also displaying dodgy tendencies and I can no longer respect him as first minister. Does this mean I’m a racist? R

hdavies15
hdavies15
13 days ago

So what if he’s got a bit of skin colour, it’s his habit of serially misrepresenting or misleading that causes problems. He should reacquaint himself with telling the truth more often.

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
13 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

his truth or THE truth would he know what truth is ?

HarrisR
HarrisR
13 days ago

The defence that “we’ve got away with
most things in the past with little fuss because no-one (the BBC) even covered it!”, is not the most thought out strategy Your Honour!! Comedy hour.

It’s only since Wales online woke up with Will, and the brilliant efforts of this publication that there has been any scrutiny whatsoever.

On that point, the Parliament is expanding to provide more scrutiny? Based on the current denialist performance of our Labour “representatives”? Farcical.

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago

Hypothetical question in no way related to the people here. (aware the leak claim is refuted but this question for the leader)
How can someone sack a person that leaks a screen shot of a conversation they say they have lost and try as they might they cannot find it? Shirley they should reward the person that they have the missing comms and pass on directly and promptly to the inquiry?

Last edited 13 days ago by Jeff
T3DSK1
T3DSK1
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

the whistle blower who is the hero/heroine but is portrayed as the pariah shame on them. To call him V G a snake oil salesman denigrates this noble band of retailers.
In the immortal words of Richard Nixon ” I am not a crook”

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
13 days ago

I mean, seriously? A racially slanted article in the Daily Mail suddenly becomes a racist onslaught? Quelle suprise! It’s not referred to as the Daily Heil for no reason! Kind of stretches credibility somewhat when all the coverage in Welsh media has not once mentioned anything about the colour of VG’s skin and focused on what should be focused on, namely the utterly corrupt practices that helped him secure his current position as First Minister. Really the only media of any relevance is the Welsh media, of which we don’t really have enough, and which should really be subject to… Read more »

MattJ
MattJ
13 days ago

That senior Labour source seems to be almost suggesting things were better back when there was very little scrutiny on Welsh politics and would prefer it if that was still the case.

Frank
Frank
13 days ago

Quote: “In a shock announcement on Thursday (May 16) Mr Gething sacked junior minister Hannah Blythyn after he claimed she had been leaking information to the media.” In my opinion all information belongs to the general public who employ these Senedd members. Information should not be secret. They are there to serve us not dictate and hide infomation from us . Members should NEVER FORGET THAT!!!

Wiwergoch
Wiwergoch
13 days ago

I can already hear the guardian reporters’ keyboards typing up a racist Welsh Senedd article.

Last edited 13 days ago by Wiwergoch
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
13 days ago
Reply to  Wiwergoch

I think even the Guardian is a little more nuanced now! You might get attempts to leverage that in the Telegraph or Spectator though.

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
13 days ago

This smacks of the same Hypocrisy as those screaming ‘Antisemitism’ every time the Israel Government is criticized. Gething needs to take a long hard look at himself and recognise the errors he has made, Quite frankly, if he were purple , the same issues would apply.

Pete
Pete
13 days ago

The same wording “higher standard” appears in the press release.

Dean
Dean
13 days ago

It shows Gething & his team are getting desperate, trying to shout “racism” & hoping it stops the scrutiny he is under. However, not only has this strategy failed – primarily because it’s absolutely nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with morals, standards & openness – but they have actually made Gethings position significantly worse. If Labour don’t replace Gething, they’ll pay a very heavy price come the next Senedd elections. People are already deeply unhappy with a lot of the governments policies, such as the 20 mph fiasco & adding an extra 35 Senedd members when… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
13 days ago
Reply to  Dean

Government policies also include refusing to build the M4 relief road around Newport, Money thrown at the Cardiff Airport White Elephant plus a proposed Mugabe style land grab of 20% agricultural land because of a so called climate emergency. As for Labour paying a heavy price and I’m with you on this Dean, remember this is Cymru. From Newport to Llanelli, South of Powys and the Far North East Corner if they see a red rosette on a bucket they will still vote for it. Just look at what happened recently in Gwent they were only to happy to give… Read more »

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

“As for Labour paying a heavy price”

Which party do you think should get those ex Labour votes?
Which party do you think will get those ex Labour votes?

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

Don’t ask me work it out yourself, you seem to know allot about everything.

CapM
CapM
12 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

It’s you that has predicted Labour paying a heavy price not me.

Was it a throw away comment of no substance or do have you an idea which party will gain but for some reason don’t want to say?

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
13 days ago
Reply to  CapM

There is such a thing as Multi Party Democracy, the voting system for the next Senedd election could very well turn Cymru into a One Party style Zanu PF Government.

CapM
CapM
12 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

First Past the Post general elections are less likely to produce a “Multi Party Democracy” than the system Senedd elections used and the new system for Senedd elections is I think more likely than the old one to deliver “Multi Party Democracy” .

A lot of criticism of the new system is based on the assumption that voters will vote in the same way as they did before and also don’t take full account of the effect of the d’Hondt system on the composition of the Senedd.

CapM
CapM
13 days ago
Reply to  Dean

 they’ll pay a very heavy price come the next Senedd elections.

Which party do you think should get those ex Labour votes?
Which party do you think will get those ex Labour votes?

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