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Welsh Labour won’t answer our email

It would be interesting to know where Welsh Labour stand on the reported tension between UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his long-time ally, shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Unfortunately we are not told.

The Eye sent officials a request for information but have been met only with silence.

No answer from Welsh Labour

Perhaps our inquiry has fallen between the cracks of Welsh Labour, although we had consulted a fellow journalist who covers Welsh political stories about the correct email address.

Or perhaps the party just does not want to respond to a query from The Eye.

The apparent row between Mr Corbyn’s office and Mr McDonnell’s, centres on last week’s budget.

They aren’t playing footsie…

Mr Corbyn criticised a tax cut for 32 million people in the budget the day after Mr McDonnell endorsed the move.

This allowed the Prime Minister Theresa May to mock the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons. 

The dispute was caused by the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s plan to raise the threshold for personal allowances to £12,500 and the higher-rate level of income tax to £50,000, a measure that the Resolution Foundation think tank predicts will benefit the wealthiest 10 per cent the most.

Hammond caused problems for Labour and May mocked them

The Times reported that a Labour source had said the economic approaches taken by Mr McDonnell and Mr Corbyn’s teams were sometimes at odds.

It seems that Welsh Labour may also be at odds over The Eye’s question.

Its validity was only underlined when in the days after the controversial budget, 20 Labour MPs rebelled against their own whips and Mr McDonnell’s response to it.

Do they like us?

On Thursday a vote in Parliament was forced over the package of tax cuts announced by Mr Hammond, and a total of 31 MPs voted against it – many of them extremely high profile.

In the morning we had asked Welsh Labour by email:  Hi.  We are a news website covering mainly Welsh issues.  Could you please give us a statement in response to the following question?  ‘Where does Welsh Labour stand in the current reported divergence between Corbyn and McDonnell?’ Thank you.  https://the-eye.wales/.

Fraser Welsh – ‘look at my appointment this way’

To date there has been no response.

Yet controversy has consistently dogged Welsh Labour and we have reported it.

Our readers have wondered whether this might be the reason for a lack of answer to our question.

In July 2015 a Welsh Labour Assembly Member (AM) raised concerns about the appointment of a new deputy general secretary for Welsh Labour, saying the role should have been advertised more widely.

Jenny Rathbone – ‘was it in line with policy?’

Fraser Welsh, who was previously Labour’s key seats campaign strategist in a General Election campaign, landed the job after it was advertised to staff members only.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones was not on the appointments panel, and Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone, who represents the Assembly Labour group on the party’s Welsh Executive, said: “I shall be seeking to establish whether the appointment took place in line with the party’s equality policy”.

Darren Williams – a Drakeford backer who ‘liked’ a Tweet about Jewish conspiracy

Welsh Labour have also become embroiled in the current row over the description of Jews.

In a contentious message on social media, Welsh Labour member Darren Williams said:  “There are conspiracies by Jews – one of them being the #GnasherJew site – there are conspiracies in all walks of life – I believe #GnasherJew is causing a lot of grief for decent Jews in Britain who don’t like fanaticism – so counter-productive”.

A controversial statement

Mr Williams, who also sits on Labour’s UK ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), suggested its MPs are “exaggerating” the extent of anti-Semitism in the party in a bid to discredit the leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In March he retweeted a statement by the Welsh equivalent of Momentum that suggests claims of Jew hatred in Labour are “inflated” and designed to damage the party.

Some things are broadcast

Alleged anti-Semitism within Labour is very much in the news at the moment, giving our question even more potency.

Several Labour MPs have accused the UK party of failing in its “fundamental duty of care” when it declined to alert the police to threats made against Jewish MPs that are now subject to a criminal investigation.

The Metropolitan Police have announced that they are launching a formal inquiry into allegations made in a leaked internal Labour Party dossier.

A formal inquiry has been launched by the police

The document, which detailed threats made against a number of Labour MPs, was kept confidential by the party and was not passed to the police until after it was obtained by the radio station LBC.

It has since been analysed by specialist officers, who have concluded that a formal criminal investigation should be opened.

According to the broadcaster, evidence in the dossier includes one voter saying: “We shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all”, and an entry referring to Luciana Berger as “a Zionist Extremist MP . . . who hates civilised people, about to get a good kicking”.

Corbyn and anti-Semitic mural (photo-shopped) – the Labour leader said the artist was in good company

Mr Williams remains a firm supporter of Welsh Labour leadership front runner Mark Drakeford and stated:  “Thanks in large part to Mark’s (Professor Drakeford’s) clear-sightedness… Wales has been spared the financially-ruinous PFI (Private Finance Initiative and) our NHS has been protected”.

But this and the damaging controversy over the attitude towards Jews at the highest level of UK Labour have been the subject of our satirical writer Edwin Phillips.

Mark Drakeford said there would be an ‘urgent meeting’ over the scandal at Tawel Fan

Meanwhile The Eye have also reported growing criticism of Professor Drakeford’s record as Welsh Health Minister when a series of scandals erupted on his watch.

Perhaps this too lies behind Welsh Labour’s failure to respond.

In particular we have published shocking revelations about the treatment of mentally ill patients at the Tawel Fan unit in Ysbyty Clwyd.

The unit was closed in December 2013 after appalling disclosures were made by The Daiy Mail.

Patients at Tawel Fan were ‘treated like animals’

Patients were ‘treated like animals’ as they were filmed crawling across floors, and a report into the ‘scandal’ in 2015, said there was “institutional abuse”.

But the response to the crisis of Professor Drakeford, now the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, came under fire.

A health record not to be proud of

He said there would be an “urgent meeting”.

It was also on his watch that The Eye were given exclusive details by whistleblowers who had worked at Brecon War Memorial Hospital of how an elderly stroke victim was allegedly slapped in bed by a carer, and visiting families were forced to bring in food to keep their starving relatives alive, and that a major police investigation was launched.

Brecon war memorial hospital – police investigation

One whistleblower told us: The night culture at Brecon hospital is amateur at best, dangerous at worst.

(Staff were) drunk on duty, nurses (were) put to bed as they were drunk, then woken up before days-staff turned up.

“A convicted sex-offender was working as a care assistant.”

Ysbyty Cwm Cynon – another crisis

We have also reported that Professor Drakeford was in charge of the health service in Wales when at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in Mountain Ash, 10 hospital workers were suspended following the death of an elderly woman who was found with “unexplained and serious injuries” on a ward.

These things cannot have anything to do with Welsh Labour not answering our question.

Can they?

Tomorrow – more trouble for the BBC.

On Sunday our own special tribute to the soldiers of the First World War. 

Check your knowledge of today’s events as revealed over the last few months on The Eye, with our brilliant interactive quiz:

 

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The Eye is edited by Phil Parry. Phil is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.

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