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Welsh Secretary and newspaper’s political editor clash over ‘Westminster parasites’ comment

14 Mar 2022 4 minute read
Martin Shipton in the Western Mail. Simon Hart photo by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The Welsh Secretary of State and the Western Mail’s political editor-at-large have clashed online after the latter said that there were “parasites” at Westminster.

The Western Mail’s Martin Shipton was responding to the claim that expanding the Welsh parliament from 60 members to up to 100 would be a drain on the taxpayer.

In response, he pointed out that “the cost entailed in expanding the Senedd is minute in terms of the overall budget,” before adding: “The real parasites are in Westminster.”

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart took issue with his comments, and called for a change of “tone”.

Improving the tone of political debate is as much the responsibility of commentators as it is politicians,” he said.

“I haven’t always got it right but Shipton Martin is an old hand and knows the impact on politics as a whole when we get this wrong.”

Martin Shipton responded on social media: “I was responding to the tired and inaccurate narrative from those who oppose devolution that Senedd Members are motivated by making money for themselves.

“Unfortunately, there are well-documented examples of that being the case so far as some Westminster politicians are concerned.”

But the Welsh Secretary said that the use of “parasites” was “offensive”.

“Neither institution is perfect but if we resort to the ‘tired and inaccurate narrative’ that implies all politicians in Westminster are “parasites” (a pretty offensive term btw) then we will never improve it,” he said.

Martin Shipton responded: “I would never – and have not – suggested that all politicians in Westminster are parasites. But some sadly are.”

‘Essential’

The debate came after Welsh Labour’s conference in Llandudno voted unanimously in favour of increasing the size of the Senedd to between 80 to 100 members over the weekend.

Expanding the Senedd from its current 60 members was included as part of the Plaid Cymru cooperation agreement with the Welsh Government.

Among those calling for a larger Senedd was Police Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police, Alun Michael, who said it would be needed to be able to devolve powers of criminal justice and policing.

“Having served in parliament for 20 years, having served as the first First Minister, I’m conscious more perhaps than anybody have the importance of the role of the backbencher and it is important, as has already been said that holding to account, but there are other things as well,” he said.

“On committees. That’s the place where consensus can be built and where questions can be asked.

“A lot of things are happening to prepare the way for the devolution of criminal justice and policing – it will happen. And my belief is it will happen sooner than we think. Because it’s right.

“The expansion of the Senedd is essential because the journey of devolution is not yet complete. There is more to come. And the capacity needs to be there for those backbenchers to do the job of holding to account that you rightly said, cannot be done by to smaller number of representatives.”

Meanwhile, the cost of refurbishing the Palace of Westminster has soared to an estimated £22bn – the same as the entire Welsh Government budget for running Wales’ NHS, local government, education, transport and other services for a year.

The body which is in charge of repairing Westminster have submitted their estimates for the cost of fixing the building to the Westminster parliament.

It lists three main options for restoration, one which involves MPs leaving the building, another that involves some MPs using the building, and another that involves them staying put.

The first option will cost £7-13bn and take 19-28 years, the second will cost £9.5-18.5bn and take 26-43 years, the third would cost £11-22bn and take 46-76 years.

The £22bn price tag compares to the £62.914m cost of running the Welsh Parliament during the 2021-22 term.


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Cynan
Cynan
6 months ago

Westminster parasite whines about being called parasite shocker

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Cynan

“Vermin” is probably more appropriate. Shipton really must be more fussy with choice of words.

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

simon perhsps needs to look back at his own recent utterances and reflect where this new lower tone orriginates ? the weekly Central office (anti Y Senedd) attack rota,lazy research and poor liaison with the First Minister has not helped the tone of debate. whst Wales needs is a principled and challenging opposition party, clear in what it wants and what alternative it offers….sadly no sign of this. Many my friends in the Tory party fear that the closer we get the election 🗳- local or parliamentary, the more vitriol and more off the wall attacks will come from the… Read more »

Grayham Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s it’s time for a New Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
6 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

*Wales

Richard 1
Richard 1
6 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

parties parties parties (not party’s every bl***y time ffsake)

Richard
Richard
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Cymru Cymru Cymru

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Ogy Ogy Ogy!

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I don’t have any Tory friends so I can’t comment

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

Then you need to get out more mste 😂✊🏼

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I do just can’t find anyone who admits to being a Tory

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

The hidden 23 per cent aye 😅
not too hidden where I live 😳

Grayham Jones
6 months ago

Stop reading English newspapers and stop watching English news it’s time for a New Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 we in wales have got stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
6 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

*Wales

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

Stop calling him the Welsh secretary.
He is the current appology for The Secretary of state for Wales.
There is a subltle but important difference. Please observe it.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

Quite right.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
6 months ago

Just take a good look at his face, would you buy a Car or House of that Man???

Fri yn unig
Fri yn unig
6 months ago

Simon Hart cannot object to the expansion of Y Senedd AND remain silent on the pending reduction of Welsh MPs in Westminster from 40 to 32 and if Mr Hart would care for ‘improving the tone of political debate’, perhaps he would call in the words of a range of MPs, MSs and Conservative commentators who have recently referred to our Government and Parliament as ‘Totalitarian’, ‘Authoritarian’, ‘Power mad contrarians’, ‘Stasi’ and ‘One party state’. We all know that in the ongoing onslaught of the ‘trash Wales’ narrative, there will never be a moderation in tone. Annibyniaeth nawr!

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago
Reply to  Fri yn unig

(Fi yn unig)

Quornby
Quornby
6 months ago

Out numbered, out voted and ignored. What purpose is served by “Welsh” MPs in Westminster the parliament of our imperial overlords? Ooops! sorry did I use the wrong tone Vidkun?

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Yes, what a waste of our reps.
Far better if they came back to an extended Senedd?

Last edited 6 months ago by I.Humphrys
Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

Owen Paterson, and the failed attempt to save his neck. Need I say more ?

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
6 months ago

Well done, Martin Shipton! Here’s a warning to Hart: Just smell the coffee, Tory, as you might be out on your rich a*se.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
6 months ago

Let it never be forgotten that Simon Hart has been taking Kremlin money. As has his party — £13 million published so far. And Hart backs the peerage given to Johnson’s paymaster, Evgeny Lebedev.

What a cheek to question expanding our legislature, the Senedd, to the minimum size required to perform its functions effectively!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

You find with the likes of Wales hating Simon Hart and his far-right antagonists at Whitehall have very thin skins. These delicate bigoted bubbles cannot take criticism without their egos popping it seems.

He forgets what the purpose of a parasite is. Like Whitehall it too clings onto its intended host with all its might. Sucks out its life blood. And only drops off when full. I’ve just described the Tory party’s attitude towards Wales & devolution perfectly.

Last edited 6 months ago by Y Cymro
Richard 1
Richard 1
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

perfectly except that money grabbers and power grabbers are never full. Parasites like that have to be crushed

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

“The appetite grows with the eating”………..

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

You have indeed. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Llyn
Llyn
6 months ago

I look forward to similar statements from Simon the next time (and he won’t have long to wait) a member of his own party or a right-wing journalist calls the Welsh Gov marxist, communist or stalinist.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
6 months ago

This from Putin’s man in wales, give the money to Ukrainian charities Hart, you know it makes sense

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