Vaughan Gething donation row showing no sign of slowing

Vaughan Gething
Vaughan Gething will face questions from the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister on Friday [Getty Images]

The continuing row over a £200,000 donation received by Vaughan Gething's leadership campaign is showing no signs of letting up.

The money came from a company whose owner has twice been convicted of environmental offences.

On Friday the Mr Gething faces questions from the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister.

Its purpose is to "scrutinise the FM on any matter relevant to the exercise of the functions of the Welsh government".

The first minister's opponents argue that the donations scandal is becoming a distraction from what government should be focusing on - things like the NHS and education.

However, even if no big blows are landed on Friday, the scrutiny won't end there.

On Tuesday, there will be another round of FMQs - donations have dominated the two since Easter - and then two opposition donations debates on Wednesday.

The Conservatives are calling for an independent investigation into the matter and Plaid Cymru for a cap on donations.

Privately, Plaid Cymru don't see the row bringing Vaughan Gething down, but that is not going to stop them keeping up the pressure.

Vaughan
Vaughan Gething was elected Welsh Labour leader, beating Jeremy Miles, on 16 March [Getty Images]

Speak to some Conservatives and they were already relishing the prospect of going on the attack even before Mr Gething - the favourite to win - actually became FM.

Attacking a Labour politician in power does them no harm with a UK general election looming… more on that below.

Pressure from within?

Jeremy Miles's first interview since losing out to Mr Gething was a carefully worded criticism of what he would have done and where responsibility for the donations lies.

Behind the scenes in Labour there is still anger at what has gone on, despite Mr Gething's efforts to build bridges.

There was a rather awkward silence from Labour Senedd Members during a First Minister's Questions grilling on Tuesday, rather than attempts to shout opponents down.

Some close to Mr Miles have privately responded with incredulity that Mr Gething's campaign co-chair - Transport Secretary Ken Skates - didn't ask more questions about the donations when he became aware of them.

Sir Keir and Gething
Welsh Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer toured a wind turbine construction platform in Holyhead with Mr Gething in March [Getty Images]

The First Minister has insisted all along that the donations were properly declared, that rules have not been broken and that the money will not be paid back.

But for many the fundamental question is not about the rules. It is about whether it was right to take money from such a source.

If there is any relief for Mr Gething it is that private discontent behind the scenes has not yet morphed into anything more overtly and publicly critical than what we've heard from Mr Miles.

But remember: any unspent money when accounts are declared will go from campaign funds to Welsh Labour, so it could become their issue.

If they keep it, they will face the same criticism levelled at the FM. If they give it back, what does that imply about his judgement?

What about that general election?

One of the reasons the former FM Mark Drakeford stood down when he did, is so that voters would know who would be working alongside Sir Keir Starmer.

Sir Keir has already publicly backed Mr Gething.

But it wouldn't quite be what Mr Drakeford had envisaged if Sir Keir ends up alongside Mr Gething at a General Election campaign event, and the FM faces a barrage of media questions about how he funded his rise to power.