Ken Skates, a former minister in the Welsh Government, has called for Labour to abandon its arrangement with Plaid Cymru in the wake of an explosive report into the latter’s internal culture.
Conducted by Nerys Evans, a former nationalist MS, it “found a culture of sexual harassment, bullying and misogyny”. According to the Guardian:
“Victims have felt there was little point in reporting unacceptable behaviour by elected members because it had been tolerated for so long, the report said. It went on to decry a lack of leadership, which it said meant the problems have worsened over the last few years, and made 82 recommendations needed to “detoxify” the party’s culture.”
Adam Price has said that he won’t be resigning as leader, and pledged to accept all the recommendations. But that isn’t enough for some in Labour.
Under the terms of the three-year deal, struck in 2021, Plaid remains formally an opposition party. But the deal ensures Labour’s spending plans get through, and allows for cooperation between the parties in other policy areas.
So far, it doesn’t look as if Mark Drakeford is inclined to jettison his nationalist allies. But if Price can’t persuade voters that he’s doing what is necessary to reform Plaid, it may yet be that the deal becomes a bad one for Labour before its scheduled expiry date in 2024.
Always nice to be able to lead with an item that isn’t Scotland, but let’s check in and see how the Scottish National Party are doing.
First, some good news! The Nationalists have managed to appoint a new set of auditors: “raising hopes in Scotland’s ruling party that it can avert a significant loss of public funding by filing its financial accounts on time”, according to the FT.
This is of direct, operational importance for the cash-strapped party; Stephen Flynn, the leader of its Westminster group, warned that the SNP risked losing access to £1.2m of so-called Short Money (cash provided to support the work of opposition parties at Westminster) if those accounts aren’t filed.
Oddly, they have chosen a firm of accountants based in Manchester, rather than Scotland. Said firm also turned out to be delinquent on its own filings to Companies House when the story broke, only filing them yesterday, which is amusing.
Next, an small update on the big item: the police are reportedly looking into what happened to hundreds of thousands of pounds left to the SNP in people’s wills as part of their broader investigation of the party’s finances.
All of this is taking its toll on the Nationalists’ fortunes; according to the Daily Express, Humza Yousaf’s poll ratings have slumped ten points to -17.
It won’t have helped that the First Minister seems to have started trying to level with his supporters about what the Scottish Government can achieve, arguing that policy should shift from expensive universal commitments to better-targeted and properly-funded interventions. This has gone down very badly with campaigners.
Perhaps this explains why some polls are picking up an interesting pattern: in this one, amongst an overall fall in support for independence, the largest was amongst the 16-24 age group, which is typically the most separatist cohort.
Meanwhile one former Nationalist minister has savaged the Scottish Government’s proposals (cooked up by the Scottish Greens) to create Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which will exclude almost all human activity, and Joanna Cherry is threatening to sue an Edinburgh Fringe comedy club after it cancelled a slated appearance because of her gender-critical views.