Vaughan Gething: Keir Starmer ‘has confidence’ in Wales’ FM


Shelley Phelps,BBC Wales Westminster correspondent

PA Media Sir Keir Starmer and Vaughan Gething in BarryPA Media

Sir Keir Starmer was out campaigning with Vaughan Gething in Barry recently

Sir Keir Starmer “absolutely” has confidence in Vaughan Gething, despite the first minister losing a no-confidence vote, a Labour general election candidate has said.

Stephen Kinnock, the candidate for Aberafan Maesteg, said Mr Gething had “done nothing wrong” and “absolutely must carry on” as Labour’s leader in Wales.

However, the vote was non-binding and opposition parties had a majority because two Labour members – one who criticised his £200,000 donation and another who was sacked by him – were off sick.

The first minister vowed to “carry on” after losing the Tory-tabled no-confidence vote in the Senedd on Wednesday.

The vote followed weeks of criticism after Mr Gething accepted £200,000 from a company run by businessman David Neal, who was twice convicted for environmental offences.

Opposition parties are now considering whether to submit a motion of no confidence in the whole Welsh government as the parliament’s rules do not require Mr Gething to quit despite losing the vote.

Asked on BBC Wales Live if Sir Keir had full confidence in the Welsh Labour leader, Mr Kinnock said: “Absolutely he does.”

“Vaughan is a man of honour and integrity and what we’ve seen today is just a cheap political stunt by the opposition, led by the Conservatives, aided and abetted by Plaid Cymru,” he added.

Tory Welsh Secretary David TC Davies told the programme that it was not “about Vaughan’s integrity so much as about his judgement”.

He said whether the Conservatives would push for a vote of no confidence in the entire Welsh government was a matter for the Tory leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies.

“The reality is this is making us look foolish in Wales,” he said.

Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts said: “This is a really sad event for Welsh democracy and it has been brought about by Vaughan Gething.

“Yes there are rules, but there is also judgement.”

Plaid leader Rhun ap Iorwerth described it as a “serious and solemn day” and called on Mr Gething to resign.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he denied the vote was “playing politics” and said Mr Gething had shown “no contrition whatsoever” over the donation controversy.

One Labour candidate, who did not wish to be named, said they wanted to “distance” themselves from Mr Gething.

“We don’t want him out on the doorstep with us,” they said, adding that the issue was coming up in doorstep conversations.

Another candidate also said the first minister’s troubles were coming up on doorsteps but “not impacting people’s vote”.

What do voters think?

Ben looking at the camera holding his dog

Ben Sullivan, owner of dog Albie, said the donations row would not affect his general election voting

In Grange Gardens – Mr Gething’s Cardiff South and Penarth Senedd constituency – voters were keenly aware of the controversy, although few indicated it would sway their vote on 4 July.

“I’ve taken into account the donation, it’s a bit of a scandal really,” said Ben Sullivan, 24, who is leaning towards voting Labour.

“But it won’t affect how I’m voting in Westminster because it’s time to get the Conservatives out,” he added.

“Stuff that happens in Wales won’t affect how I vote for the UK overall.”

Hera Siddiq and her daughter

Hera Siddiq says she has just about “lost faith” in the main political parties

Hera Siddiq, 28, said she believes the row is something that could “possibly” affect how she votes.

However, she added that she has “heard really good things” about Mr Gething and knows “he’s done a lot for the community”.

More broadly she explained that she had “lost faith” in the main political parties and is thinking of vote for the Green Party or independents.

Sarah Johnston said that, while she thinks the donation row is “not a good look”, she’ll still be voting Labour in the general election.

“I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s good at all. But it’s [the general election] a two horse race and I’d rather Labour than Tory,” she said.

Natalie Jones

Plaid voter Natalie Jones said she believes many Labour voters will simply “do what they’ve always done”

Plaid Cymru voter Natalie Jones did not know if the row would affect how people vote in the general election.

“You do have lots of Labour strongholds in Wales,” she said.

“People might just do what they’ve always done.”

There are signs Mr Gething’s donations row could be impacting support for Labour at Senedd level, but not at Westminster, claims one Welsh political expert.

“We’re seeing one of the biggest gaps we’ve ever seen between Westminster vote intention for Labour and Senedd vote intention for Labour,” said Dr Jac Larner, a lecturer in political science at Cardiff University.

“At the moment in the polls around 45% – just less than half – of all voters say they’ll vote Labour in a Westminster election but that goes down to about 30% in Senedd elections.

“You don’t want to read too much into that of course, but it does suggest that Labour at Welsh elections, at devolved elections, are at the moment considerably less popular than they are when it comes to Westminster elections.”

He added: “Keir Starmer is quite a bit more popular in Wales than Vaughan Gething and this is actually a reversal from what we saw under Mark Drakeford, who was consistently more popular than the UK leader.”

Welsh Labour said the motion was a Tory political stunt “aided and abetted” by Plaid Cymru.

A spokesman said: “Vaughan is focused on delivering for our NHS and the economy and helping to return the UK Labour government Wales is crying out for.”

The candidates in Cardiff South and Penarth are:

Labour – Stephen Doughty

Conservatives – no candidate announced at time of writing

Liberal Democrats – Alex Wilson

Plaid Cymru – Sharifah Rahman

Reform – Simon Llewellyn

Green Party – Anthony Slaughter

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