New Leader, Old Problems for Welsh Labour

As expected, Wales’ decline was further cemented this afternoon with the election of self-proclaimed Corbyn-groupie, Mark Drakeford, as new Welsh Labour leader. As the result shows, the Momentum machine mercilessly crushed his also-ran opponents.

However, there’ll be no ‘honeymoon’ period for Comrade Drakeford when he’s crowned Wales’ First Minister next week. The increasingly murky conspiracy surrounding the suicide of Labour Minister Carl Sargeant a year ago, still completely dominates Welsh politics.

Sargeant was sacked as Minister following supposed “allegations” of inappropriate behaviour towards women – allegations he denied right up to his death.

Drakeford’s predecessor, the ineffectual Carwyn Jones, remains mired and under pressure for sacking Sargeant without giving him any details of the complaints or letting him offer his side of the story.

As reported previously by Guido, Labour’s problem in Wales is rooted in the very dodgy relationship between the party and Cardiff lobbying firm, Deryn Consulting.

With the Inquest into Carl Sargeant’s death under way, more details are emerging about the web of intrigue that places Deryn at the heart of the conspiracy that was ‘out to get’ Sargeant:

The main conspirators are:

  • Cathy Owens: Head of Deryn who took to the BBC in the days before Sargeant’s death to allege sexual harassment from an unnamed politician. Owens pointedly did not rule out Sargeant from her unsupported allegations as part of a concerted campaign to try and humiliate and discredit him.
  • Jo Kiernan: Deryn employee and named at last week’s Inquest as co-ordinating a bullying campaign against Sargeant when she worked as Carwyn Jones’ chief SpAd.

  • Helen Antoniazzi: Works for a charity called Chwarae Teg – a prominent Deryn client. A former senior Plaid Cymru staffer and believed to be one of the ‘complainants’.
  • Dave Hagendyk: Head of the Learning and Work Institute in Wales – another prominent Deryn client. Former Welsh Labour General Secretary and at the Inquest named as the co-ordinator of complaints against Sargeant.

The big question facing new First Minister Drakeford will be – will he allow his first 100 days as leader to be bogged down in the same conspiracy that toppled Carwyn Jones or will he be savvy enough to cut the conspirators adrift..?

Mark Drakeford New First Minister of Wales

Mark Drakeford is set to become the next First Minister of Wales after winning the Welsh Labour Leadership Election. Drakeford beat Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan in the race to replace the outgoing Carwyn Jones, securing 53.9% of the vote after second preferences were included. Llongyfarchiadau…

Wales may be about to get a first-hand taste of Corbynomics – 64-year-old Drakeford is firmly on the left of the Party – he was the only sitting Cabinet member in any part of the UK to back Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader in 2015 and had Momentum’s support for his own leadership election. Will Wales become the Venezuela of the UK under his stewardship?

Did Wales’s First Minister Lie Under Oath?

Wales’ First Minister and his senior Special Adviser have been summoned back to the dock after giving “highly unsatisfactory” answers earlier this week at the Inquest of former Welsh government Minister, Carl Sargeant, who was found hanged at his home last November.

Earlier this week, First Minister Carwyn Jones, and his senior SpAd Matt Greenough, took to the stand at the Inquest to try and explain away their roles in the increasingly murky circumstances surrounding Sargeant’s sacking from the Welsh Cabinet a year ago.

Sargeant was removed form his post following supposed “allegations” of inappropriate time behaviour towards women – details and identities of whom were kept from him – allegations which he denied right up to his death.

Jones and Greenough’s original testimony was given under oath, something they will be reminded of when the Inquest reconvenes in the New Year…

Carwyn Currently in US Seeking Free Trade Deal

During his speech today Jeremy Corbyn proposed a customs union which would give Britain only “a say” in future trade deals. In the Q&A afterwards Jezza implied he would accept the right only to “consult” on EU trade deals, with no vote. Someone should probably tell Carwyn Jones, who is currently on a week-long trip to America where he says he “will press the case for developing a free trade agreement between our countries”. Something Jezza’s plan would not allow…

Welsh Labour Backed Amazon Plant Brings in Hungarian Workers

An Amazon distribution center given financial backing by the Welsh Labour government is again the subject of controversy after it emerged foreign workers are being brought in en masse to cover Christmas shifts. A concerned constituent wrote to Welsh UKIP leader Neil Hamilton to say they had been asked if their spare room could be used to accommodate Hungarian workers. The resident claimed they were contacted by a firm called Central European Contracts and Recruitment Services Ltd, who they suggested planned to accommodate workers ‘hot-bunking’ between shifts at the Amazon plant.

Carwyn Jones’ Welsh Government provided grants to Amazon to develop the facility. The Welsh authorities refused to confirm the amount given. But sources put the funding at a cool £8.8 million…

The Amazon warehouse was the subject of a 2013 Panorama investigation which suggested working conditions there could cause “mental and physical illness”. An Amazon spokesman said at the time the company “complies with all relevant legal requirements”. A UKIP spokesman said:

“How can Labour’s Welsh Government, which claims to champion the working class, support a facility that employs workers from Central and Eastern Europe and treats them in such an appalling manner? UKIP will continue to investigate and hold the Welsh Government to account on this.”

Awkward for Carwyn…

Carwyn’s “Clique” Played “Mind Games” Against Carl Sargeant

Pressure continues to build on Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones as a slew of fresh allegations about the culture in his private office come to light. Carwyn’s former SpAd Steve Jones, who ran the First Minister’s media operation, accuses his “clique” of playing “mind games” against Carl Sargeant for years:

“The behaviour of some at the top of the Welsh Government was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was pure poison. Ministers were undermined by senior advisers playing power games and seeking to exert unreasonable control over Government and the First Minister himself…

“Dealing with our Plaid Cymru partners in Government at that time, was considerably more straight forward than dealing with the clique surrounding Carwyn. The mind games being employed against Ministers – such as Carl – were at times an utter distraction from the serious business of governing Wales…

“It was clear that all this was getting Carl down. I told Carwyn that Carl was becoming increasingly unhappy. I suggested to him on more  than one occasion that he should simply go for a pint with Carl one night – to talk about things and get back to the kind of relationship they enjoyed before and during Carwyn’s leadership campaign. I don’t know if they ever shared that pint. In any case, it became increasingly obvious that Carwyn was either unwilling or unable to address the culture that existed within his office. He allowed it to develop, fester and grow.”

Carwyn’s current SpAds were seen out celebrating on the night of Carl’s sacking. Questions are now being asked in Welsh political circles about the role played by a number of Carwyn’s former SpAds in the Carl Sargeant case…

Welsh Labour “Distraught” Carwyn Jones Didn’t Resign

Carwyn Jones’s attempt to tough-out the controversy over his handling of the Carl Sargeant tragedy is going down terribly in Welsh Labour. Mark Tami, the Labour MP who shared Sargeant’s constituency, last night called for an independent inquiry into the party’s handling of the allegations, which he said “was not up to it”. Tami said he found the First Minister’s statement “confusing”…

There were emotional scenes following Jones’s press conference last night. Labour Deputy Leader of Flintshire Council Bernie Attridge fought back tears as he slammed the First Minister for not resigning:

“I’m distraught that the man [Carwyn Jones] hasn’t done the decent thing. The way he’s treated my friend is shocking. I will not let him get away with this. I will fight to the bitter end for justice for my friend Carl Sargeant.”

Meanwhile, former Welsh Labour government minister Leighton Andrews joined calls for an independent inquiry and said Jones had not answered questions properly:

“He’s not answered the questions that people across Wales are asking. He’s not answering the questions that were raised by Carl’s solicitor… there are questions about why he did those interviews on Monday… There’s widespread anger in Wales… people are deeply unhappy about what has happened to Carl Sargeant, a good friend to so many people. They want answers.”

Jones suggested his freedom to provide answers was limited by a coroner’s inquest. But media law experts dismissed this as “nonsense”. This is all looking very bad for Carwyn Jones…

Welsh Government SpAd Under Pressure this Morning

The family of Carl Sargeant – who is understood to have killed himself after being accused of sexual misconduct – say advisers to the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones may have manipulated evidence against him. They also failed to detail the charges against Sargaent despite pleas from his solicitors, meaning he had no opportunity to defend himself against unknown allegations. Pictured above are the SpAds out in Cardiff on Friday night celebrating after the sacking of Carl Sargeant from the Welsh government earlier that day.

On the left in the photo above is the First Minister’s senior SpAd Matt Greenough, who is under fire over his handling of the complaint. Greenough is said to be the one who spoke to the complainants before the issue was referred for an internal party investigation. First Minister Carwyn Jones is under serious pressure this morning, Greenough could be sacrificed…

Pressure On Carwyn As Carl Sargeant’s Family Releases Emails

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones is under pressure tonight after Carl Sargeant’s family spoke out about the circumstances surrounding his suicide. The family says Labour did not inform Sargeant of the “detail of the allegations” before he died. Correspondence between Sargeant’s solicitor and the party reveals the allegations were “related to unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping”. There was no police investigation taking place. The family also says concerns were raised with Labour about the AM’s mental welfare before died. The family are especially critical of Jones’s media statements…

A family spokesperson said:

“In light of the continued unwillingness to clarify the nature of the allegations made against Carl, the family wish the release into the public domain, correspondence between Carl’s solicitors and the Labour Party on Monday of this week. Up to the point of his tragic death on Tuesday morning Carl was not informed of any of the detail of the allegations against him, despite requests and warnings regarding his mental welfare.

“The correspondence also discloses the solicitor’s concern that media appearances by the First Minister on Monday were prejudicing the inquiry. The family wish to disclose the fact that Carl maintained his innocence and he categorically denied any wrongdoing. The distress of not being able to defend himself properly against these unspecified allegations meant he was not afforded common courtesy, decency or natural justice.”

Here’s the email sent by Sargeant’s solicitor to Labour on Monday raising concerns about the First Minister’s media statements:

Doesn’t look good…

Carwyn Jones Picks a Winner

Labour Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones digs as deep as a Rhondda Valley miner during a debate in the Welsh Assembly yesterday afternoon. Tell you what’s really snot on: he then ate it. To be fair to Carwyn, he didn’t go as far as the finger and thumb public double nasal evacuation made famous by Ed Miliband…

Welsh Politicians Spend Thousands Chartering Planes to Watch Football

Welsh government politicians, special advisers, private secretaries and press officers have billed the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds to fly around the world on more than 30 foreign junkets in the last year. Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones blew more than £10,000 chartering a plane for him and his private secretary to France to watch the football last summer. Why are taxpayers paying for this?

The itinerary of the Welsh cabinet and their flunkies would put globe-trotting A-listers to shame. Expenses documents show Jones spent nearly £50,000 on another two trips to the US, taking in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Washington DC at a total cost to the taxpayer of £47,992. Economy Secretary Ken Skates and his private secretary also went to the Euro football: they attended matches in Toulouse and Paris over five days, total cost £3,232. How did they manage to spend that much?

He and an official also went to Chongqing and Shanghai at a cost of £17,842. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething was also accompanied by an official on a trip to Enetbbe, Uganda, charging £16,582, to mark the “10th Anniversary of Wales for Africa“. Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths and policy official enjoyed sunny Dubai at a cost of £6,563. Who are these people are why are spending our money?

Welsh politicians have long been on the take and get away with it because no one in the English media cares about what are essentially local stories. At a time when Welsh Labour are breaking their tuition fees promise, their politicians and staff are flying around the world on jollies. How can they justify spending this much on going to watch the football?

Welsh Labour’s Stunning Tuition Fees Hypocrisy

The Welsh Labour government has announced a hike in tuition fees just weeks after pledging to scrap them during the election. Welsh Labour’s manifesto stated that “Welsh Labour has always been clear that education should be free and if funding allowed, there should be no tuition fees”. During the election First Minister Carwyn Jones said “it would be difficult to conceive” a scenario where Welsh Labour did not match the UK Labour Party’s pledge to abolish fees. Last night the Welsh Labour government announced fees would rise to £9,295 from autumn 2018 because “our universities must be able to compete domestically and internationally”. The Welsh Tories called it “amazing hypocrisy”A message to student voters that when actually in power, Labour puts up tuition fees. Carwyn Jones’ Nick Clegg moment…

Labour: “Never Been a Better Time” to Borrow £500 Billion

Labour First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones says “there’s never been a better time to borrow £500 billion. Speaking on Sunday Politics Wales yesterday the most senior Labour figure in Wales said:

Presenter: “The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said £500bn more borrowing in order to give the economy a bit of a boost – you’d go along with that then would you?”

Carwyn Jones: “Yes I would. Let’s remember…”

Presenter: “£500bn extra borrowing?”

Carwyn Jones: “There’s never been a better time to borrow. It’s cheap.”

Quite a day: Communist-endorsed Labour arguing with themselves about Trident, but at least they agree on borrowing half a trillion pounds more…

Victoria’s Secret Lingerie and 5 Star Hotels: Welsh Govt’s £7.5 Million Credit Card Spend

VICTORIAS SECRET

The Welsh government spent £7,508,490.17 of taxpayers’ money on credit card transactions over the last Assembly, including purchases from lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, iTunes subscriptions, Yachtwear, and items from IKEA, as well as stays in luxury five star hotels. A Freedom of Information response reveals that in total, ministers and civil servants spent an average of £1.5 million a year, with an average spend of £5,893.50 per card last year alone – more than double the UK average.

Expenses cleared on the cards included:

  • £103.91 at Victoria’s Secret, whose website describes the brand as having “The world’s best bras. The sexiest lingerie. The most beautiful Supermodels.”
  • £377.31 on iTunes subscriptions.
  • £370.70 on Yachtwear from high-end provider Yachtshop.
  • £2191.43 at IKEA, and a further £279.90 at Toys R Us.

Luxury hotel trips were also thrown in, including £1,450.76 on the £313 per night (cheapest room) on the five star Hotel New Otani, and £9043.79 on the five star Raffles, Beijing. They even totted up 842.99 on a jolly in Cannes which included bills for the four star Hotel Belle Plage and the prestigious beachfront restaurant Plage le Goeland. Most amusing of all is the officials’ £1569.10 expenditure on Welsh Cakes, including a single spend of £808.35. Living it up while the Welsh NHS collapses. They’ve literally had their cake and eaten it…

Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones Tied in Welsh First Minister Vote

It’s all kicking off in Wales. The Tories and UKIP have backed Plaid’s Leanne Wood for First Minister, meaning the Assembly vote is tied 29-29 between her and Carwun Jones. The presiding officer is overheard asking “What do I do now?” Could the election be re-run?

Carwyn Jones’ Brexit Scaremongering Busted

Carwyn Jones’ scaremongering about Brexit during last night’s debate included the claim that businesses would leave Wales if Britain left the EU. Citing the examples of Toyota and Airbus, the Welsh First Minister said: “They’re interested in a market of 500 million people… These are all companies that are in Wales because it’s a European base for them.” When Farage disputed this, Jones insisted: “Nigel, I speak to them, what do you do?” So, would Toyota and Airbus quit if Britain voted to leave?

This is today’s FT splash:

And this is a BBC headline from June:

More Remain campaign myths busted…

EU Debate Nigel Farage v Carwyn Jones

Welsh First Minister Condemns Steel Workers

carwyn jones

Steel giant Tata is closing down part of its Welsh Newport plant and laying off hundreds of workers because it cannot afford to keep paying high electricity costs. Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones seems quite cut up over the closure, demanding Westminster does more to curb energy prices:

“we’ve been saying for a long time, as have Tata, energy costs in the UK are too high… Now we’ve said this many, many times to the UK Government and they have not responded effectively yet, but we do need to see action to help not just Tata but all those industries who do use a lot of energy, to actually become competitive compared to those industries they compete against in Europe.”

Odd then, that after Carwyn took personal responsibility for the Welsh energy sector, he ploughed ahead with his plan to “move to a green economy as fast as possible“; encouraging the mass construction of the subsidised windmills that have sent energy prices soaring. Fel rhech mewn pot jam…

HT: Bishop Hill

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Liz Truss on the next Tory leader…

“In order to command public trust we need someone who has backed Brexit from the start, because of the situation we’re in now.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
WHO IS BACKING WHO? WHO IS BACKING WHO?
Gove’s Pitch Gove’s Pitch
Farage Milkshaker Unmasked Farage Milkshaker Unmasked
ChUK Blame Game ChUK Blame Game