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Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Political pariah?

Labour may well be soaring ahead in England, but here in Wales they are not so buoyant and feedback on the doorsteps is that people are disillusioned with their performance in the Senedd, the 20mph default speed limit, £18m a year extra for 36 more Senedd Members and First Minister, Vaughan Gething's donations scandal, and in particular that he is still there despite losing a no confidence vote.

It is no surprise therefore that Nation Cymru has reported that a Labour general election battle bus touring Wales did not have Vaughan Gething as a passenger when it visited the seat where residents’ lives have been made a misery by his criminal donor.

Mr Gething accepted £200k for his Welsh Labour leadership campaign from a company owned by businessman David Neal, who was given two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels protected landscape.

Another of Mr Neal’s companies has been responsible for the emission of nauseous odours from the Withyhedge landfill site near Haverfordwest for the best part of a year.

At the weekend, the party battle bus visited the new seat of Mid and South Pembrokeshire. But when a number of prominent Welsh Labour politicians disembarked to be greeted by their local candidate Henry Tufnell, there was no sign of the First Minister.

Early in the general election campaign NationCymru revealed how Mr Tufnell had asked Welsh Labour to tell Mr Gething to keep away from his constituency because of the First Minister’s association with Mr Neal.

Mr Tufnell was told off by party apparatchiks for daring to tell the truth to NationCymru and later he and Mr Gething were pictured eating ice creams together on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Since then a damning Dispatches programme has been broadcast on Channel 4 alleging that Mr Neal is under investigation for “mischaracterising” waste sent to Withyhedge so he makes savings on his landfill tax bill.

A Labour insider said: “ Vaughan’s supporters are quick to claim his crisis is just a Cardiff Bay bubble thing. The reality is very different, Pembrokeshire residents have to live with the stink caused by his associate every day. It is no surprise he didn’t fancy joining this particular campaign stunt, and it’s obvious UK Labour want nothing to do with him.

“Vaughan claimed he would be an electoral asset during his leadership campaign, but he has been incredibly low profile throughout the election. His polling numbers are damning, people have made their minds up and it’s only going to get worse if he doesn’t return the dirty donation money.”

We asked Welsh Labour why Mr Gething wasn’t on the campaign bus, but did not receive a response.

It suits the opposition of course to keep Gething in post, but Labour are clearly suffering because of it and it's not going away soon.
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