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Senedd sketch: Covid deaths question draws angry response

29 Mar 2023 4 minute read
Heledd Fychan. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Siân Williams

A Plaid Cymru Covid “conspiracy” theory and the plight of holiday home owners were the order of the day in this week’s First Minister’s Questions (FMQs).

Heledd Fychan MS for South Wales Central said a number of her bereaved constituents who had lost relatives during the pandemic wanted information and clarification.

Some family members, Ms Fychan informed the Senedd, “Have received letters telling them that Covid wasn’t the cause of death, despite it being on the death certificate.”

Ms Fychan wanted confirmation as to the purpose of the current investigations. Is it in order to learn lessons and provide answers to families:

“Or is it an exercise to try and reduce the official number of Covid deaths in Wales?

Mr Drakeford was visibly upset, and replied: “The Member’s allegation is both offensive and absurd.

“Of course, the efforts that are being made are not some conspiratorial effort to change the number of people who died from Covid here in Wales.

“What an utterly, utterly absurd allegation to make here on the floor of the Senedd. The efforts that are being made are led by clinicians—are they part of your conspiracy as well?”

Those clinicians, said Mr Drakeford are trying to provide family members with an understanding of the way their loved ones were treated, and what happened to them while they were in the care of the health service.

This is the same First Minister who – some political commentators have claimed – led Welsh Labour to an outstanding victory at the last Senedd election on the back of his careful handling of the pandemic.

Whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and then Chancellor Rishi Sunak, both broke the law taking part in lockdown cheese and wine parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, Mr Drakeford lived in his garden shed to protect his shielding wife and mother.

Ms Fychan who was elected in 2021 has been struggling to make her mark in FMQs for quite a while. Well now she has.

Tories on tourism

Welsh Conservative Russell George MS for Montgomeryshire wanted further exemptions to holiday let owners who are under threat of having to pay council tax like the rest of us.

According to Mr George: “Huge concerns remain with regard to the Welsh Government’s changes requiring many holiday let businesses to be let for 182 days a year, and making them move from the business rates system to the council tax system, which would then increase their tax burden and make many of those businesses unviable.

“So, can I ask, First Minister: when are we going to see further exemptions that clarify these matters and make sure that these businesses don’t fold?”

Hang on pal – what about the burden of not being able to rent or buy a home in the community you grew up in because there’s a second home problem?

Even Mancunians are fed up with subsidising the tourist industry. From 1 April visitors to Manchester who stay overnight in a city centre hotel – or holiday let – will be charged £1 a night, per room, in tourist tax.

Called the ‘City visitor Charge’ it is hoped the new scheme will raise £3 million a year.

This is the first tourist tax in England as well as in the UK, but the Welsh Tories – who are usually so keen for Wales to follow the example of England in matters of policy – they are as quiet as the grave on this.


In his response to Mr George, Mr Drakeford explained that an exemption is already in place for properties that can only be occupied for certain times in the year.

“But, let’s be clear about what the changes are there to do,” said Mr Drakeford, spelling it out slowly for the opposition.

“They are there to make sure that proper businesses are able to take advantage of small business rate relief.

“If you’re a business, then I do not think it is unreasonable to say that you should be making your property available to be let for 252 days and that you should actually let it for 182 days; then you are a business.

“If you’re not operating as a business, it doesn’t mean you have to fold; it just means that you pay the council tax like anybody else. I think that is a fair basis on which people can be treated.”

Not another peep was heard from Mr George who was too busy leaning back in his office chair and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

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1 year ago

This is not a conspiracy theory. WHO guidance issued to ‘member countries’ was to put Covid on the death certificate for death from ANY cause within 28 days of a positive PCR test. There are MANY doctors and medical professionals who have highlighted this issue but it is being censored in the mainstream media.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

Have a read of John Crace, there is more to sketch writing than this…

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 year ago

Ms Fychan has a pretty face but unfortunately obviously very little grey matter inside her head. Its is perfectly obvious that not everyone died of Covid despite it being included on a certificate and the FM is right families should know the difference.

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