Labour does not appreciation the trouble Welsh FM is in, Plaid leader says

Sir Keir Starmer “does not appreciate the trouble” the embattled Welsh First Minister is in, the leader of Plaid Cymru has said.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of the Welsh national party, has said the Labour Party has not appreciated the situation Vaughan Gething is in, as he faces a no-confidence vote in the Senedd next week.

He also accused the Labour Party of “gaslighting” the people of Wales on the NHS and education.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of Plaid Cymru in Ammanford on Saturday
Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of Plaid Cymru in Ammanford on Saturday (PA)

Mr Gething, who has been the Welsh Labour leader since March, faces a no-confidence vote after being beset by scandal, with questions raised about a £200,000 donation to his leadership campaign from a man convicted of environmental crimes and allegations that he may have deleted messages that could be of interest to the Covid Inquiry.

Speaking during a campaign visit to Ammanford in south Wales, Mr ap Iorwerth said voters are “absolutely” talking about Mr Gething on the doorstep.

He said: “We have a very, very troubled First Minister, it seems that Keir Starmer doesn’t appreciate the trouble that his leader in Wales is in.

“But it’s very clear to me from conversations on doorsteps, from emails I’ve received, from messages I’ve received, from just conversations on the street like I’m having in Ammanford today, that people absolutely recognise that we have a leader, a First Minister in Wales, that isn’t up to the high standards to which we should hold our political leaders.”

All opposition parties in the Senedd have indicated that they will support the no-confidence motion, with a vote taking place on June 5.

Mr ap Iorwerth added: “The opposition parties haven’t got confidence in Vaughan Gething, more importantly than that, we’re clear that the people of Wales don’t have confidence in him.

“This one is down to Labour, if Labour members of the Senedd, and more importantly, Keir Starmer want to keep him in place, he will stay in place. It’s their call.”

Mark Drakeford’s replacement
Vaughan Gething will face a vote of no confidence on June 5 (Ben Birchall/PA)

Addressing reporters on Thursday, Sir Keir said he was “proud” of Labour’s record in Wales and said Mr Gething was doing “a very good job”.

The Welsh FM has always insisted he broke no rules regarding the £200,000 donation and said leaks to the media that showed him saying he was deleting text messages in a ministerial group chat in 2020 did not contradict evidence he gave to the Covid Inquiry and were unrelated to pandemic decision making.

Mr ap Iorwerth also accused the Labour Party of “gaslighting” the people of Wales, by promising to get to grips with health and education.

Health and education are devolved issues and are controlled by the Welsh Labour government.

“Labour thinks they can take Wales for granted,” he said.

“Talking about sorting health and education policies that they have been running in Wales for the last 25 years.

“Do they think the people of Wales are that stupid?”

General Election campaign 2024
Leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth said that the Labour Party was ‘gaslighting’ the people of Wales (PA)

The Plaid leader said his party wants to set out a positive message for what Wales can be and to act as a voice for the country in Parliament.

He added that they did not want to take any votes for granted, following polling on Friday that suggested his party will make gains at the election including in the Caerfyrddin constituency, which covers Ammanford.

Mr ap Iorwerth also called Labour’s decision to “parachute” in members with no connection to Wales a “real worry”.

He said: “It’s a worrying sign about what Labour’s attitude in government would be towards Wales.

“We’re seeing a slashing on the number of MPs in Wales from 40 to 32.

“If among those 32 you have parachuted in candidates who are not there because they want to play any part in Welsh politics, that’s a dilution of the Welsh voice.

“It’s insulting to the Labour Party members themselves in those constituencies, but it’s also insulting to Wales to do this at the last minute.

Minimum wage report
Torsten Bell has been named as Labour’s candidate for Swansea West (Jonathan Brady/PA)

On Friday, the party confirmed that Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think Tank will be its candidate for Swansea West.

Mr Bell appears to have no connection to Wales.

Former Labour MP Beth Winter told the BBC the decision was an “insult to party members” and an “affront to democracy”.

Labour has insisted the decision was taken by a panel “formed by representatives from the Welsh executive committee and local members”.