Four Welsh AMs Including Mark Reckless Defect to Brexit Party

Mark Reckless and three other Welsh AMs have formally confirmed that they are joining to the Brexit Party, after Guido revealed their imminent defections 24 hours ago. You’re either in front of Guido…

The four AMs have now given official notice to the Welsh Assembly that they are forming a Brexit Party Group in the assembly, with independents Caroline and Mandy Jones joining David Rowlands, who’s quitting UKIP, and Reckless who’s leaving the Tories again. It’s the third time he’s switched party in just five years, will it be third time lucky for Mark?

Welsh Labour Reinstate AM Suspended for Anti-Semitism After Barely a Month

Jenny Rathbone, the Corbynista Welsh Assembly Member who was suspended in November over anti-Semitism has now been reinstated by the party with no further action taken against her. Rathbone suggested that Jewish people’s security fears could be “in their own heads” and accused Jewish Communities of having a “siege mentality”, while claiming that Israel “drives people to be hostile to British Jews”.

The Welsh Tories are furious, saying Rathbone “was suspended from the Group so her comments and the extent of her prejudices could be investigated thoroughly and diligently. This has not happened.”

Rathbone is close to the new hard left leader of Welsh Labour, Mark Drakeford, and even joined him to celebrate his victory last month while she was supposed to be suspended. The decision to re-admit her to the party was made before Christmas, barely a month after she was suspended. Labour once again struggling to show it is taking anti-Semitism seriously…

Moderates Purged as Corbynistas Take Control of Welsh Labour

There’s been a rapid and brutal turn of events inside the UK’s newly-created Corbynista oblast, formally known as Wales. Momentum’s new First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has wasted no time in purging his tainted predecessor’s closest aides. Guido hears Carwyn Jones’ SpAds, Matt Greenough and Huw Price – both of whom are deeply mired in the murky controversy that led to the death of former minister Carl Sargeant in 2017 have already been sacked. Within hours of Drakeford’s coronation as new Welsh Labour leader, their passes were cancelled, desks cleared and personal effects unceremoniously shipped out in boxes…

Greenough, seen out celebrating the night Sargeant was sacked from government, is being recalled to the Inquest in New Year for a fourth time due to apparent inconsistencies in his previous evidence. Price – also seen partying in the photo – briefed media against Sargeant and ramped pressure up on him in the days leading to his suicide.

Another likely victim of Drakeford’s purge will be Welsh Labour General Secretary Louise Magee – a key figure in Sargeant’s sacking. Hapless Magee admitted gross incompetence in her evidence to the Inquest – confessing that no duty of care was extended to Sargeant before his death. Guido understands Magee is viewed with total suspicion by Drakeford’s inner circle – with her close friends believed to have been behind vicious attacks on him during the recent leadership campaign. Thankfully for Magee, she’s just gone on maternity leave – that will at least buy her some respite before she’s purged by the hard-left in the not-too-distant future…

On the ministerial front, a reshuffle is also under way with moderates like ex-MP Huw Irranca Davies and NEC member Alun Davies having already been purged to make way for Drakeford’s Momentum cronies. The ideological purification of the Politburo is well underway…

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?

Davies: Davies Beats Davies to Replace Davies

Absolute scenes in Wales today after Chairman of the Welsh Conservatives Byron Davies announced to members that Paul Davies had beaten Suzy Davies to replace Andrew RT Davies.

Davies had already served as interim leader since Davies’ unceremonious ousting back in June, and today Davies revealed that Davies had secured 68% of the vote to see off the challenge from Davies and secure his position as Davies’ permanent replacement. And people say that Westminster politics is too incestuous…

Andrew RT Davies Resigns as Welsh Tory Leader

Andrew RT Davies has resigned as leader of the Welsh Conservatives. He said in a statement:

“It is with deep regret that I announce that I have today tendered my resignation as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the National Assembly. This was done in a letter to our Group Chairman following a meeting this morning of all group members.  “It has been a huge privilege to serve in this position since 2011, after securing the mandate of the party in a ballot of the membership. It is my firm belief that any Leader of the Assembly Group should secure the same mandate in a full ballot of the grassroots, and I hope that my successor will emerge in that manner.”

Davies hasn’t said why he has quit. He was caught up in the Airbus row earlier this week…

Corbyn: Welsh Labour Government Shows Socialism in Practice

Corbyn speaking to Labour’s Welsh conference today:

“Here in Wales Labour is in Government showing the rest of us how our values, Labour’s socialist values can be put into practice… an endorsement of our radical programme for the government but also a positive change that a Labour government and devolution has brought about.”

Guido usually thinks the Tories banging on about the NHS in Wales is tired whataboutery. Though if Corbyn insists on giving them ammo like this…

Bullying Lobbyists at Centre of Carl Sargeant Investigation

Tory Welsh Assembly Member Darren Millar has revealed it was Carl Sargeant himself who asked for questions to be tabled about bullying in the Welsh Government back in 2014. Sargeant was a Cabinet member at the time and asked the Tory AM to help him tackle bullying coming from the First Minister’s office. Darren Millar didn’t name the ex-adviser responsible. Guido can reveal he was referring to Carwyn Jones’ former top special adviser Jo Kiernan, now at Welsh spin merchants Deryn.

There are allegations that Deryn put pressure on Sargeant before his death. It is said the firm had been participating in a whispering campaign against him for months because he would not give lobbyists access in Cardiff. Cathy Owens, head of Deryn and herself a former special adviser who was embroiled in an earlier bullying scandal, took to the BBC in the days before Carl’s death to allege sexual harassment from an unnamed politician. She pointedly did not rule out Sargeant from her unsupported allegations as part of a concerted campaign to try and humiliate and discredit him.

Deryn – which is never far from a Welsh government lobbying scandal – has something of a reputation as a Welsh Bell Pottinger. It is losing scandal-averse clients. Deryn has just been dropped by the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon developers…

See also: The Persistent Personal Undermining of Carl Sargeant – Leighton Andrews

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…

Welsh Government’s £1.8 Million Credit Card Splurge

The eye-watering £1.8 million credit card bill run up by the Welsh Labour government is exposed today, revealing how jet-setting civil servants are travelling the globe in 5*luxury while taxpayers pick up the tab. In total, £1,838,679 was spent on Welsh Government credit cards in 2016-17, up from £1.4 million last year. The extraordinary litany of waste would not look out of place on the bank statement of a Hollywood A-lister, but instead the extravagances are enjoyed by faceless Cardiff bureaucrats:

  • £203,644 was spent on flights;
  • £110,889 went on 4* and 5* luxury hotels;
  • When events are included, the hotel bill rises to £141,880, including a whopping £14,480 on exhibitions in the 5* Shanghai Peace Hotel;
  • £1876 went on on limousines;
  • £5418 was spent on Uber;
  • £3,028 was spent on yachting and boating;
  • £8604 was spent on luxury dining – with £1,652 alone being spent on 7 visits to the Michelin-starred James Sommerin Restaurant in Penarth (6 course taster menu £70, rising to £110 with wine; 9 course tasting menu is £90, rising to £150 with wine; the cheapest main course is £17 and the Welsh Lamb is £26);
  • £359 went on Nom Nom Chocolate, where a single bar costs £4.50;
  • £110 was spent on iTunes,

Shadow Finance Secretary, Nick Ramsay, said:

“The bill for Welsh Government credit cards is out of control. The purpose of these cards is to reduce the bureaucratic cost of processing small claims – not to make it easy to splash the cash with impunity in lavish restaurants and boutique hotels. Worryingly, since 2011, staff in the Welsh Labour Government have racked up over £9 million in credit card bills and it’s time for the system to be thoroughly investigated by the Auditor General.”

Welsh Labour is presiding over a bonfire of taxpayers’ cash…

Taxpayers Spend Millions Funding Welsh Trade Union Pilgrims

Welsh trade union ‘pilgrims’ are costing the taxpayer more than £2 million per year, an investigation reveals today. Public sector workers on ‘facilities time’ (paid time-off taken by trade union officers to carry out union duties) are employed by almost every one of the 38 public bodies in Wales. Around 80 such officers across Wales are employed full-time, working a total of 2,978 hours per week – at a cost of approximately £2.1 million a year. An additional 153 officers are employed on a part-time basis to carry out trade union roles. If each member of part time staff worked just one day a week on union ‘facilities time’ it would cost the taxpayer an additional £1.03 million. Shadow Local Government Secretary and Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders said:

“The taxpayer shouldn’t be picking up the tab for Trade Union duties – that’s what their subscriptions are for. Across Wales, public bodies are taking difficult decisions about staffing and funding in order to protect vital services. Meanwhile, millions of pounds in vital funds are being diverted away from the frontline to subsidise the political work of the unions. It’s a national scandal.”

The investigation – carried out under the Freedom of Information Act by the Welsh Conservatives – comes after Guido reported a Taxpayers’ Alliance study revealing the national bill for pilgrims now stands at more than £15 million. David Cameron’s government began a crackdown on pilgrims, Theresa May should finish the job…

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…

CCHQ Rows With Associations Over Female Candidates

CCHQ is embroiled in a number of nasty spats with Tory associations after imposing female candidates on seats across Wales. The Tories do not have a single female Welsh MP, something party chairman Patrick McLoughlin and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns are determined to change. In Bridgend, CCHQ has imposed Karen Robson on the association against its will. Robson is not from the local area (she moved to Wales after university and last ran for the Tories 20 miles away in Cardiff). This has infuriated local members, who passed a vote to reject the carpetbagger and choose a local candidate instead. One member says:

“The majority of members are up in arms as this is an outrage and tearing our Association apart in a target seat. It is hardly an example of strong and stable leadership in the national interest. This is immoral and treats all of us hard working volunteers who have been here through thick and thin with contempt.”

CCHQ has ignored them and pressed ahead with Robson as the candidate, in response some Bridgend Tory councillors are threatening to go independent…

The Tories have also imposed female candidates on associations in both Newport West and East. In Newport West, European Parliament bag-carrier Angela Jones-Evans has been imposed at the expense of the 2015 candidate and long-serving local member Nic Webb. In Newport East, CCHQ wants Natasha Asghar, the daughter of the local Tory assembly member. These associations are upset with Cairns, McLoughlin and CCHQ. Behind closed doors Cairns has insisted there has to be at least one female MP returned in Wales this election and imposing female candidates is the only way to guarantee that. As Guido’s (male) Welsh mole says: “We do need to have a female MP, but CCHQ has gone about this in an awful fashion…”

Tories 10 Points Ahead in Wales

In Wales.

Brexit Minister Welsh Politician of the Year, Owen Smith Loses Again

Brexit minster David Jones has won the annual Welsh politician of the year award, a worthy winner and sensible appointment by Theresa May which helped allay a lot of Eurosceptic doubts about her government. It’s also a reflection of the clear majority of Welsh voters who backed Leave. The vast bulk of Labour-held council areas in Wales backed Brexit, some seats in the Valleys voted to Leave by a huge margin. All round it’s been a terrible year for Labour in Wales, they fell short of a majority on the Welsh Assembly as UKIP surged. Another reminder that Remain Labour MPs in Leave constituencies should be worrying. There were five awards for Welsh politicians at the event held in Cardiff last night. Owen Smith lost to Paul Flynn…

Owen Campaign’s Strategic Divide

OWEN-DILEMMA

Owen Smith is particularly desperate to try and win Wales and shore up his vote on home turf to avoid personal humiliation. When it comes to events and phone banking his campaign is very Welsh-centric – he’s focusing on South Wales disproportionately. Make that a hell of a lot of effort for a small part of the electorate.

In the latest of many South Wales campaign events Owen made a “keynote” speech in Rhondda yesterday to a handful of people – he just can’t break out of the Valleys. If you look at his campaign pictures (see below) from the event they are all tight on him because the crowd was so small.

oily-close

Truth is he’s not liked much in Wales. Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones has been silent and no Welsh minister has backed him. His own Pontypridd Assembly Member and Welsh Government Counsel General, Mick Antoniw, is backing Corbyn. Former Pontypridd AM and Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson, who knew Owen and worked with him closely when he was first elected, is also backing Corbyn and tweeting Owen attacks. Reportedly the only CLP in Wales to nominate him was fixed

In private the campaign knows it has lost and fears it may lose by over 60% to 40%. His campaign manager Dugher is said to be arguing for a strategy shift to a tough bare-knuckled fight, hitting Corbyn hard, perhaps having learnt his lesson from managing Andy Burnham’s disastrous soft-left leadership campaign. The whole idea of projecting Smith as a “competent Corbynista” has been disastrous from the off because nobody believed thechildishly transparent lie. Owen Smith does not however want to tack to the centre and tell the membership hard-truths, because he needs to “protect my brand” for the future. Oh boyo…

Could this dilemma within the campaign explain the vitriol of that Dan Hodges polemic on Sunday against spineless, incoherent, incompetent Owen? Hodges is close to Dugher…

UPDATE: A source gets in touch to clarify that initially Dugher was for all the full-on lefty campaign because he thought that’s where he/Andy screwed up last time, “If Andy had been more left-wing Jeremy wouldn’t have had space to emerge. Problem is it’s the right strategy for twelve months ago. Doesn’t work now Corbyn is out of the bottle which they now accept.”

Oily Smith the Devolution Dodger

SMITH DEVOLUTION

Oily’s at it again, this time lying about his record as a “committed devolutionist”. Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts lashed out at the Labour hopeful, calling his earlier claims a “perfect illustration of his cynical hypocrisy”. A spokesman for Smith struck back, saying “He has consistently campaigned and voted for further powers to be devolved to Wales, over crucial issues like social security and policing.” Regular readers can already guess who is telling the truth…

Of the 15 votes on Welsh devolution Smith has had the chance to vote in since first elected to Parliament in 2010, Smith has voted in just three of them, he was absent from the other 12 votes. One of those three votes included backing powers for the Welsh government to underwrite borrowing by private companies working on Welsh infrastructure. A characteristically New Labourish wheeze to socialise the risk and privatise profit…

Oily has not once voted in Parliament to devolve “social security and policing”, abstaining from votes on granting the Welsh government control over job centres and policing powers. He has also been conspicuously absent when voting to allow the Welsh government spending, taxation, and energy policy powers. When it comes to critical votes, Oily is consistently a devolution dodger…

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…

Bryant’s UKIP Bashing Comes Back to Bite Him

twitter fury ukip labour

Welsh Labour MPs stuck the knife into Plaid’s Leanne Wood last night after she relied on UKIP votes to challenge Carwyn Jones for First Minister. Chris Bryant led the attack, arguing Labour shouldn’t form a government if they relied on UKIP to win:

“I’d only be interested in forming a progressive government.

[…] Read the rest

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