Turning green

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Phil Parry 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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Grenville Ham – ‘never heard of him’

An extraordinary row has broken out on social media involving a controversial House of Lords politician who angrily stressed she was Welsh, accused a Twitter follower of being “childish”, called another an “idiot”, and was forced to apologise for being “rude”, after the Green Party (GP) leader in Wales defected to the nationalist group Plaid Cymru (PC).

The furious row followed the contentious move of Grenville Ham to PC.

Mr Ham had said a vote by GP members in Wales over the summer against splitting from the English GP had made it “untenable” for him to remain a member.

Jenny Jones – ‘idiot’

But a perplexed Baroness Jenny Jones said she had “never heard of him” and was asked “have you ever heard of Wales?”.

Yet in response, the GP’s only peer was outraged and wrote:  “Idiot. I am Welsh. Are you Green?”while to another Twitter follower she declared:  “Don’t be childish. As he’s left for Plaid, it’s not much of an issue. Tweet as us when the new leader is elected and we’ll publicise it. PS: I’m Welsh”

Jenny Jones doesn’t like the EU

These tweets are set against a controversial background where Baroness Jones of Moulsecomb has made news for all the wrong reasons. She is a prominent member of the GP but an outspoken Eurosceptic and was the party’s candidate for Mayor of London in the 2012 election, coming third with 4.48 per cent of first preferences.

In January last year it was reported that she had split with her party’s co-leader Caroline Lucas, by preparing to defy her and vote for Brexit.

Caroline Lucas – a split

She told Business Insider that she wanted Article 50 triggered, and would be happy to support a simple bill put forward by Theresa May paving the way for Britain to leave the EU.

But Caroline Lucas said:  “I will not be capitulating to the Tories over Brexit – and will vote against prematurely triggering Article 50 in the Spring”.

The Green party does not fly the flag for controversial re-tweets

In March this year it was reported that Baroness Jones had retweeted a message attacking gender recognition, “in error”.

She had retweeted a message that appeared to link proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act to a child abuse scandal in Telford.

The message, from a ‘gender critical’ campaigner, was directed at Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party (SNP)  – a supporter of transgender rights – and described proposals to adopt a self-identification system of gender recognition as “madness”.

Mhairi Black was caught up in the ‘madness’

A GP spokesperson said at the time: “Jenny didn’t appreciate the implications of the tweet and retweeted it in error. It has now been removed”.

Baroness Jones has, though, previously spoken of her fears over trans issues on Twitter.

But the GP have also hit the headlines over other issues, and the defection of Mr Ham from the GP to PC caused consternation among GP members.

Grenville Ham’s departure for Plaid Cymru caused consternation

He had wanted an independent Welsh Green Party, but this was rejected by nearly 65 per cent of members who voted.

Mr Ham called PC the “only party focused on the future of Wales”.

Making the contentious announcement on the eve of the party’s annual conference, he said: “During my time as leader of the Greens in Wales I was unashamed to admit that I wanted the sole focus to be on Wales.

The Plaid Cymru conference – a time for controversial announcements

“However, after the membership decided that they wanted to remain a party of two countries, I felt my membership was untenable and I resigned my leadership.”

It may also be thought ‘untenable’ for a prominent politician to call voters publicly ‘childish’ or an ‘idiot’.

Tomorrow – the results of our regular picture caption competition where fists are shown in a photograph of two leading Plaid Cymru politicians. 

What could they be talking about?!

There’s still time!

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