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Leanne Wood’s long campaign



Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.59.38LEANNE WOOD was not at all satisfied with a fourth place finish in the 2015 General Election.

Her immediate response to the loss – and the mere hold of her three MPs – was to declare that the campaign for the National Assembly elections of May 2016 would commence without pause.

This most recent campaign has been the culmination of decades of political action: miner’s strike, devolution, various assembly elections, and the 2011 referendum.

Already in campaign mode, and convinced that there would have been a breakthrough in the General Elections with a few more weeks to campaign, Wood began a series of major engagements: visiting local constituencies, attending cultural events, making visits to schools and giving major addresses on politics and policy at Aberystwyth University. Linking up her network on the ground, Wood engaged local organisations in the campaign, giving speeches at party events and demonstrations, outlining her message for the May elections.

With the “What Next for Wales?” campaign in full gear, she decisively answered a quip by one of her aides Simon Thomas, who suggested that she was better suited to campaigning than to intellectual “stuff” (Wales Online, 12 May 2015). Wood countered by not only giving many speeches on policy and political affairs, but also by using the campaign itself to disseminate her ideas and build her network across Wales.

The long campaign has been energised by immense personal loyalty that Plaid members’ have for Wood’s leadership. No one questioned her strategy of an immediate campaign, but picked up their shovels and joined her work for a change of government in Wales.

Leanne Wood is certainly seeking national liberation for Wales. Yet, independence is her longest campaign. She is often asked by commentators how she squares her quest for a socialist republic with the pragmatic necessity of getting on with the “system as it is”.

She will answer that the “system as it is” is the result of historical action and events, and that the people of contemporary Wales have the same capacity for action and change. In a post-devolution framework, moreover, the National Assembly is a state in embryo, one which can be brought to fruition with the enhancement of its autonomy and powers, over eg. social security, healthcare, taxation, policing and criminal justice, natural resources, drug policy, land policy, airspace – and other powers appropriate for a European-oriented democratic republic and nation in its own right.

For Wood, Wales is a nation to come, one that will be built by the generations of those who live here, by a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic population, for the sake of a better life and a stronger, more local, democracy – one that serves the wishes and aspirations of Wales.

Leanne Wood was never going to be the usual politician.

Her expulsion from the National Assembly on her first day as AM was hardly auspicious – or was that her point after all? She was contesting, re-valuing, a distinctly British value – honour to the Queen – to the British sovereign – of one unelected versus Wood’s own democratic mandate.

Wood began her political career with a denunciation of British sovereignty over Wales. She campaigns now for the governance of Wales, for First Minister and the acceleration of the national process.

Yet, the building process, though it would be greatly accelerated by a Plaid victory, does not of itself require a nationalist government, but an intensified movement for home rule, enhanced powers, and compliance of the UK government with the 2011 referendum.

Wood has nearly perfected the campaign as a form of organising political change. A campaign is a real time affair that provides the vast array of individual events with a cohesive momentum. If one is committed to forming a new nation, one must cultivate the most broad-based and effective national outreach network, a campaign that is the process of nationbuilding itself.

In this way, even if she comes up short in May to form an outright government, Wood will have an even stronger voice for transformative politics as the leader of the progressive opposition (especially as the Tories will still hold Westminster), one that remains strongly linked to mass organisations on the ground, such as Adam Price’s Yes Cymru, and with the UK-wide progressive opposition in activist networks and in the UK parliament.

Currently contending with Labour for the leadership of the National Assembly, Wood’s long campaign has paid off, and even offers the chance for accelerated national transformation.

As momentum is moreover connected to political direction, the winds are clearly in the Wood’s favour as the necessity for a mature national framework has become increasingly urgent for the protection and development of Wales.

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First Minister Vaughan Gething faces potential vote of no confidence



WALES’ First Minister Vaughan Gething is poised to confront a vote of no confidence when the Senedd reconvenes next week. The Welsh Conservatives are expected to table the motion ahead of the 18:00 BST deadline on Wednesday, with the vote scheduled for 5 June.

Mr Gething has been under intense scrutiny after accepting £200,000 in donations for his Welsh Labour leadership campaign from a company owned by an individual convicted of environmental offences. This controversy has only added to the pressure he faces.

For the vote of no confidence to succeed, at least one Labour Member of the Senedd would need to either support the motion or abstain. Labour currently holds 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd. The motion’s passage would also require backing from Plaid Cymru, who recently withdrew from their co-operation agreement with Welsh Labour.

On 17 May, Senedd Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies stated that it was “odds-on” a no confidence motion would be initiated. His comments followed the dismissal of Minister Hannah Blythyn by Mr Gething for allegedly leaking messages to the media, a claim she denies.

Despite the controversy, Mr Gething has maintained that the donations were declared and registered according to the rules. The £31,000 of unspent campaign funds is being donated by the Labour Party to “progressive causes”.

Even if Mr Gething loses the vote, it would not be binding as it is being tabled during opposition time. Nonetheless, it would place the First Minister in a precarious position and come at an inopportune moment for the UK Labour Party amid a general election campaign.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has not confirmed how his party would vote on a no confidence motion, but he has acknowledged that the donations controversy and Ms Blythyn’s sacking have become significant distractions. Speaking on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement on 19 May, Mr ap Iorwerth remarked, “There is not much point in bringing a vote of no confidence in the Senedd when you know pretty much that Labour are confident that they will circle the wagons. They will support their leader.”

The situation in Wales contrasts with recent events in Scotland, where former First Minister Humza Yousaf ended the power-sharing agreement with the Greens and resigned before facing a vote of no confidence. Without Green support, he was uncertain of winning.

There remain several factors that could influence whether the Conservatives proceed with the vote. The disciplined nature of the Welsh Labour Party in the Senedd and the potential consequences for any Labour rebels make defection unlikely. Additionally, the ongoing general election campaign raises the stakes, making any Labour rebellion even less probable due to the potential for significant political fallout.

A spokesperson for Griffiths Contractors, responsible for the A40 improvements project, extended thanks to the community for their cooperation during the construction period. They particularly acknowledged the residents of Northfield Road for enduring parking restrictions and thanked Janine Perkins from Bloomfield Community Centre and Narberth Health Centre for their support.

As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the vote of no confidence will materialise and what impact it will have on Vaughan Gething’s leadership and the broader political landscape in Wales.

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Edwards to step down: Plaid MP not standing for re-election



IN a heartfelt announcement, Jonathan Edwards, the long-standing MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, has declared that he will not be standing in the next General Election on July 4. Mr Edwards, who was first elected in 2010, leaves a legacy as the only politician to win four consecutive elections and as the longest-serving Parliamentarian in the constituency’s history.

Reflecting on his career, Mr Edwards expressed immense gratitude and pride for his tenure. “Serving my home communities has been the most incredible honour and privilege,” he said. “I hope the people of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr will feel that I have done the job to the best of my ability, with integrity and for the right reasons.”

Throughout his time in office, Mr Edwards championed significant policy changes, notably leading the charge to scrap the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Scheme in Wales. This move has saved Welsh Councils an estimated £100 million per annum, enabling the construction of new Council houses for the first time in years. “I feel an enormous sense of pride when I see new Council houses being built in Carmarthenshire,” he remarked.

Additionally, Mr Edwards was instrumental in uncovering financial losses to Wales due to HS2 and other Barnett Formula disparities. He also made the case for a Wales-specific Public Sector Pension investment fund and secured one of the first Levelling Up bids in the UK for the Tywi Valley Cycle path between Llandeilo and Carmarthen.

However, in May 2020, Mr Edwards accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife, leading to a suspension from his party, Plaid Cymru. The incident drew significant public and political scrutiny. After being re-instated two years later, his then-wife, Emma, expressed her dismay, stating that Plaid Cymru’s decision sent a message that “survivors of domestic abuse don’t matter.”

The controversy surrounding his membership led to a public row, with former Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price asking him to leave the party. Mr Edwards eventually quit Plaid Cymru but considered running as an independent candidate against his former party. On Tuesday, however, he announced that after “deep reflection,” he had decided it was time for him to step down.

As he looks to the future, Mr Edwards is eager to spend more time with his family and engage with the community in a non-political capacity. “I am now looking towards the future with my beautiful children who bring joy to everyone they encounter; I can’t wait to spend more time with them having lost out on so much of their early years,” he shared.

He also paid tribute to his partner, Fflur, expressing his excitement for their future together. “And to my amazing partner in Fflur who gives me faith that the future will be one full of love and happiness. I have much to look forward to,” he added.

Emphasising his deep roots in the community, Mr Edwards fondly recalled playing cricket for the Ammanford Wildboars Centurions Cricket Team. “The anthracite grey of the Amman Valley runs deep in my blood,” he said, reflecting on his commitment to local sports teams and his role in coaching the Under 10 cricket team. “It astounds me how quickly the players are developing.”

One of the proudest moments of his career was being asked to become the Honorary Vice President of Ammanford RFC, a testament to his close ties with the community. “The people of the Amman Valley have stuck by me through thick and thin and I am proud to be one of you,” he said, expressing his deep gratitude to his constituents.

In closing, Mr Edwards wished his successor well and looked forward to returning home. “Politics is a tough and all-encompassing occupation and I genuinely wish my successor well. For myself, I can’t wait to be home where I belong.”

Jonathan Edwards leaves behind a notable legacy in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, marked by significant policy achievements and a heartfelt commitment to his community. His departure from Westminster marks the end of an era, but his impact will be felt for years to come.

Fill list of Caerfyrddin constituency candidates

  • Ann Davies – Plaid Cymru
  • Martha O’Neil – Welsh Labour
  • Simon Hart – Welsh Conservatives
  • Nick Beckett – Welsh Liberal Democrats
  • Bernard Holton – Reform UK
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A further two Pembrokeshire day care centres may close if petitions fail



TWO PETITIONS, calling on Pembrokeshire County Council to keep day care centres in the county open have been launched, with the creator of one calling on all affected to unite together.

Earlier this year, senior councillors backed plans to close two of the county’s centres for older adults and those with learning disabilities, Portfield SAC, Haverfordwest, and Avenue SAC, Tenby; service users moving to other centres in the county.

The county council is currently changing care provision for older adults and those with learning disabilities, and fears have been raised recently that Pembroke Dock’s Anchorage day care centre is to close.

A series of engagement events have taken place at The Anchorage recently, outlining the reasons and the options in continued service.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “One young woman who attends ran out of the first meeting sobbing when she was told it was going to close.

“Another, at the second meeting, tried to address the meeting, but was so choked up at the thought of not seeing her friends any more she could hardly speak.”

It now is feared Narberth’s Lee Davies Day Care Centre and Crymych’s Bro Preseli Day Centre could also close, with concerns it is due solely to budgetary reasons.

An e-petition on the council’s own website, by John Llewellyn of Living Memory Group, entitled against the closure of the Lee Davies and Bro Preseli day care centres, has attracted some 254 signatures to date.

It states: “We call on Pembrokeshire County Council to Review the closure of the Lee Davies Day Care Centre at Bloomfield’s and the Bro Preseli Day Centre at Crymych.

“Staff at both day care centres were informed in mid-March that both facilities would be closing due to PCC budget cuts. Both centres are an essential outlet for the wellbeing of the attendees and their families.” petition, called Save the Lee Davies Day Centre Narberth, has also been started by Kate Schofield, the twin sister of one of the centre users, which has attracted 186 signatures.

She says her sister has already seen “her beloved Avenue Centre close,” and could “lose her old and new friends at the Lee Davies Centre”.

That petition reads: “Pembrokeshire County Council are currently reviewing the day centre provision in Pembrokeshire.  They have posted some petitions where you can merely sign your name, but this is not proper consultation, and in reality decisions about services provided for older people and vulnerable adults many with complex learning disabilities are being made by councillors who are driven purely by budget savings.

“If we lose the Lee Davies Centre there will be little or no provision in south Pembrokeshire, The Avenue in Tenby has closed, The Anchorage will close very shortly and in Haverfordwest, Portfield has also been closed.

“Please sign, comment and share let’s show PCC that we care even if they clearly don’t.  We have until early June to make our feelings known, so please sign today.”

Kate added: “My sister has Down’s Syndrome and because of our age has always only had the option of day care services.

“Over the last few years she has, like the rest of us, come through Covid. The day, whilst out for a walk, she started laughing while hugging a tree because she couldn’t hug me will stay with me forever.

“She’s seen her beloved Avenue Centre close and now will possibly lose her old and new friends at the Lee Davies Centre, this is one of the many reasons I have raised this petition.”

Kate, who said she was moved to tears by the plight of Anchorage centre users, finished by saying: “I don’t believe PCC, and indeed the Cabinet Member for Social Care & Safeguarding, have any regard for older people with learning disabilities, profoundly disabled adults and indeed older people in general.

“They talk about stress and mental health but have no regard to what they are doing to carers and attendees across these centres.”

She finished: “We need to all join forces, Lee Davies, Bro Preseli and The Anchorage to fight PCC.”

Kate may be contacted on 01646 651049.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Pembrokeshire County Council is working with trustees at both Lee Davies and Bro Preseli in order to maintain current service provision wherever possible.

“The services remain committed to develop a hybrid social enterprise model during 2024/25.”

Anchorage plea: A plea by a concerned parent to keep the “safe and happy place” Anchorage centre open – which had also attracted a council e-petition – was recently heard at a full council meeting.

Responding at that meeting, Cabinet Member for Social Care & Safeguarding Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “All service users of the Anchorage will be offered alternative day centre arrangements in order to preserve their independence and also to support the caring needs of their families, these assessments are still taking place and are likely to continue to do so at least until the end of May.”

The anchorage petition, which closed today, May 24, attracted 402 signatures.

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