Every Sunday, we here at Gwydir will put together a roundup of the previous week’s news – we’ll be looking at the stories that dominated the headlines both in Wales and across the UK. If you have a story you’d like to see feature, make sure you email email@example.com!
Rebecca Gone Bailey?
We never found out if there’s a hyphen in Rebecca Long Bailey’s surname and, given the events of the past week, it’s not entirely clear that we ever will.
After five years of toing and froing over what exactly constitutes anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer marked a decisive break with the Corbyn Era when he dismissed once-leadership contender and now-former Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey from his cabinet. An interview with known Corbyn supporter and actor Maxine Peake, in which it was erroneously claimed that the Israeli army was responsible for training the police responsible for the tragic killing of George Floyd, was the cause of all the commotion with Long Bailey allegedly refusing to delete a tweet in which she praised Peake and shared the article with her 170,000 Twitter followers. Despite pleading that her endorsement of Peake (who later retracted her own claim) was not an endorsement of the entire article, Starmer ejected her from his top team with apparently little hesitation. It also probably didn’t help that the article contained the rather-delicious soundbite “Those people who were normally Labour supporters who felt they couldn’t vote Labour? Well I’m sorry, they voted Tory as far as I’m concerned”; far from the message that Labour need to broadcast in order to flip now-Conservative held seats in the Midlands and the North.
The move caused furore from all the usual suspects; John McDonell, Jon Lansman and the exalted founder of the Tony Benn University of Political Education, Richard Burgon. What is slightly more telling is the response from the majority of moderate (and sane) Labour members and the Jewish Board of Deputies; their positive reaction to the dismissal shows it’s clear Sir Keir is making all the right moves in cleaning up the raft of anti-Semitic complaints that he inherited in April.
Anything you can do, I can do better!
Alas this week’s crown for ‘Most Outlandish Claim Involving Israel’ has to be shared between the Corbynite Left and their socialist friends across Offa’s Dyke, Plaid Cymru. Where to even start…
Repeat offender and potential candidate for the Plaid South Wales Central list Sahar Al-Faifi made a strong start, sharing right at the beginning of June the exact same claim that caused Starmer such a headache on Thursday. After her comments were picked up by Labour MSs Hefin David and Alun Davies and their Conservative counterparts Andrew RT Davies and Darren Millar, it’s clear that this will not be going away any time soon. Al-Faifi, who hopes to become the first female BME Member of the Senedd, has a history of making allegations against Israel and was previously suspended by the party for comments made between 2012 and 2014. As this is written, Al-Faifi appears to still be in the running for the coveted list seat and Plaid haven’t publically commented beyond issuing a statement to nation.cymru claiming that they were “investigating a social media post” and that they stood against all forms of discrimination.
Long Bailey was later supported by Plaid Cymru Councillor Steve Collings. Collings, a councillor on Gwynedd Council, attempted to back up links between the US and Israel by utilising ground-breaking international relations knowledge including “both regimes are racist and work together a lot.” Whilst of course both the United States and Israel do indeed have issues within their multiracial societies, we’re not entirely sure that this type of analysis is justification for alleging policy brutality is the fault of Israel. Collings also later compares the alleged actions of Israel to those two well-known democratic and liberal Middle Eastern groups, ISIL and Hamas. It’s somewhat odd that all of the other countries that share police training with the US were repeatedly ignored in favour of Israel, but what do we know.
But that must be all we hear you all cry! Oh, if only. Not one to be left out, former Plaid leader Leanne Wood tweeted the same conspiracy theory before rather hurriedly tweeting an article twelve hours later clarifying that “there is nothing to suggest that Israel played any greater part in Floyd’s death than the many other countries that share training with the US”. Oh, and Plaid Westminster leader Liz Savile-Roberts hosted a panel discussing Black Lives Matter and the Welsh role in the slave trade that somewhat unfortunately featured a purely white line-up. And currently suspended Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards accepted a caution for assault and now faces an internal party disciplinary committee to see if his party suspension will be lifted. Add this to Adam Price’s hastily recanted call for reparations and it’s been a hell of a month for the Party of Wales. Monthly Rating: D-
Tower Hamlets Trouble
Here at Gwydir, we believe that any party is fair game for criticism and this is certainly the case when it comes to the UK’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick. A rather murky tale has resulted in a swath of private communications between Mr Jenrick and developer Richard Desmond being published, revealing the extent Mr Desmond went to lobby the UK Government for approval to build his billion-pound luxury housing development, including personally tracking down the Housing Secretary at a Conservative Party donor evening to show him videos of the plans. To Mr Jenrick’s credit, he has repeatedly told Mr Desmond that it would be inappropriate of him to speak in his capacity as a cabinet member. Regardless, questions have been raised about the date that the deal was approved, allegedly saving Desmond up to £40m for the levy; Jenrick’s overruling of local planning officers and the Tower Hamlets Council has also resulted in angry rhetoric from opposition sources, although in a twist designed to match The Sixth Sense, it doesn’t appear the Leader of the Opposition has called for his sacking. One thing’s for sure, how long Mr Jenrick holds onto the longest job title in Western politics is under increasing scrutiny.