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Drakeford refuses to condemn NPT leader’s MS abuse

'Sorry seems to be the hardest word': First Minister refuses to condemn personal abuse of Plaid MS

IN THE Senedd this afternoon (Tuesday, March 9), First Minister Mark Drakeford refused to condemn a sexist comment made by Rob Jones, the Neath Port Talbot Council’s Labour leader.

At a Labour Party meeting in Pontardawe during December 2019, Mr Jones called Bethan Sayed MS ‘a cow’.

Cllr Jones stepped aside from his role as leader after a recording of his remarks was leaked.

Rob Jones issued a statement after the leak in which he said he’d referred himself to the Public Services Ombudsman.

Complaints by others about his abusive remark regarding Ms Sayed, and other disclosures made at the meeting, are also before the Ombudsman.

However, instead of condemning his Labour colleague’s comment, Mr Drakeford hid behind the fact the Public Services Ombudsman’s investigation was pending.

It is unclear why Mr Drakeford felt constrained from condemning a misogynistic remark about the Plaid Cymru MS by his Labour Party colleague.

Especially as Cllr Jones has publicly accepted, he made it.

Instead, Mr Drakeford issued a nebulous condemnation of all misogynistic behaviour and, in a moment of partisan ‘whataboutery’, mentioned a 2019 internal Plaid review into the issue.

Faced with a choice between condemning sexist remarks and Party loyalty, the First Minister chose the latter.

In the same recording, a voice also identified as Cllr Jones’ is heard boasting of using public money to ‘buy’ Labour votes.

The voice, allegedly Cllr Jones’, claimed he told officers to “go and search down behind the backs of the sofa” to pay for a new road that he boasts resulted in people “turning to the Labour Party”.

On slightly stronger ground, the First Minister declined to condemn those remarks. Instead, he again beat out Labour’s tribal drum by referring to how the conservatives in England manipulated a scheme to favour target marginal seats.

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said he had written to the Auditor General requesting an investigation into the remarks and to ensure “robust checks and balances” to safeguard against the potential misuse of public funds for political purposes in Welsh public authorities.

Mr Price said that seeking “narrow party advantage” through the misuse of public spending would be a “flagrant and totally unacceptable abuse of power”.

Speaking after the Senedd exchanges, Adam Price said: “It was disappointing that the First Minister could not find it in himself to support an investigation by the Auditor General and was also unable to condemn the outright misogynistic comments made by his colleague.”