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A Welsh nationalist politician posting a picture on social media of a man holding a gun saying he was warding off English people, has caused a huge political storm.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats (WLD) have said: “There is a clear implication of violence and xenophobia”, and the leader of another opposition party in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) stated that he was “Speechless”.
Above the photograph of the person on a beach with the rifle, Councillor Jon Scriven, declared on Facebook (FB) that he was making sure those from England were not attempting a channel crossing.
Cllr Scriven who represents Plaid Cymru (PC) on Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) wrote: “Ogmore-by-Sea tonight for a quick swim and make sure there wasn’t any English people trying to cross the channel”.
But the WLD announced on FB: “There is a clear implication of violence and xenophobia in this post.
“Whether or not it was intended as a joke or not, it is entirely inappropriate for an elected official to make such comments, when they should know better.
“With so much hate having been in politics the last few years we should be trying to build bridges, not stoke division further.
“Plaid Cymru must now do the right thing and suspend the councillor in question”.
The man posing with a gun may be Cllr Scriven himself – the website WalesOnline certainly believed so, although other ‘stories’ were deemed more important, such as one headlined: “Three-year-old egged in face by yobs leaving her bruised and sobbing”.
It published: “A social media post surfaced online which showed Jon Scriven posing with a gun”.
PC pronounced grandly that the post was inappropriate, and he was suspended pending an investigation.
South Wales Police (SWP) confirmed that an allegation of “malicious communications” had been made.
Officers said they were “aware of a post on social media featuring a man brandishing what looks like a rifle at Ogmore-by-Sea”.
Labour member of the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) for Caerphilly, Hefin David, described the post as “incredibly concerning”.
“We should be seeking to unite people and address real concerns like the cost of living, not post disturbing images that are calculated to divide us”, he added.
Afterwards Cllr Scriven said sorry for what he had done, possibly confirming that the man in the picture was him.
He stated online: “I would like to apologise for my now deleted Facebook post”
Andrew RT Davies leader of the Welsh Conservative group in the WP/SC since last year, was also incensed.
He re-posted the controversial message, proclaiming that he was: “Speechless. This is a @Plaid_Cymru councillor. @Adamprice (the leader of PC) cannot let another scandal rage on without decisive action. This sort of xenophobic attitude is beneath us.”.
The scandal Mr Davies refers to, concerns the disgraced MP, Jonathan Edwards, who was cautioned by the police for assaulting his wife, but was allowed to represent PC again at Westminster (although he decided not to).
Soon after the controversy hit the news, it emerged that before the 2015 General Election (GE), Mr Price’s predecessor as head of PC (Leanne Wood), wrote (on Twitter): “… Re-elect the fantastic Jonathan Edwards in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.”.
But after the re-admission of Mr Edwards to the party, she decided Mr Edwards was not actually ‘fantastic’, and she tweeted: “This sends the message that women don’t matter and that survivors of domestic abuse don’t matter. I always believed Plaid Cymru to be better than this.”
Later she added: “Jonathan Edwards can’t remain as a Plaid Cymru MP”.
Her successor joined in, with the words: “His (Mr Edwards’) actions do not represent our values and his position as an MP sends the wrong message out to domestic abuse survivors in Wales and beyond”.
The party was split over letting Mr Edwards back in, but he has portrayed himself as a victim, although this does not compare to the suffering of the woman he assaulted.
Mr Edwards has declared self-pityingly, that he was the subject of “vindictive and vengeful coordinated political attacks”, and he was left feeling suicidal.
Ruptures within PC were laid bare, and they were encapsulated by the Member of the WP/SC, Sian Gwenllian, Communications Director on PC’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), who said: “If an elected politician has severely damaged the integrity, the credibility and the reputation of our party by contravening one of its core values, then that person should no longer represent the collective, democratic voice of our members.
“So now as a party, we must review our standing orders to reflect the views of our democratically-elected body in the future. We must also build upon recommendations I made in a report before the pandemic to tackle misogyny within our party.”
A previous party chairman, Alun Ffred Jones, resigned after disagreeing with the NEC’s actions.
The Chief Executive of the gender equality organisation Chwarae Teg, Cerys Furlong, said PC should think again about its decision and the message it sent to all women.
“Our politics must be an environment in which women are safe and where violence, harassment and abuse are stamped out”, she declared.
But these have not been the only times that PC have faced unwelcome headlines, and the one time Assembly Member (AM) as well as MP for PC, Simon Thomas, was the focus of a huge amount of media attention.
Mr Thomas, was an AM (the forerunner to being an MS) for Mid and West Wales, and formerly MP for Ceredigion, yet in 2018 had pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children.
He had confessed to making more than 500 indecent photographs as well 77 films – some involving children as young as six, and quit the National Assembly for Wales (WA) (WP/SC) and PC after being arrested in July of that year.
Mr Thomas was given a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for two years, at Mold Magistrates Courts after previously admitting the charges.
The court heard that still images found on his tablet and mobile phone included almost 100 of the most serious category – ninety-four still images and 56 videos were classified as Category A – the gravest kind.
Many voters might also think PC is in a grave category, when one of its figures put on social media a picture of a man with a gun to defend against the English, with one opposition party saying “There is a clear implication of violence”, and the leader of another feeling able to say that he was “Speechless”…
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