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Wales held back by UK Tory rule – Labour’s Rayner

Vaughan Gething, Angela Rayner and Jo Stevens enjoyed a stroll on Llandudno promenade

Wales has been held back by Conservative UK ministers and needs a Keir Starmer government to deliver for its population, Labour’s deputy leader has said.

Angela Rayner was launching Labour’s Welsh general election campaign at Llandudno, Conwy.

There were no media interviews with Welsh Labour leader Vaughan Gething at the event, with rival parties accusing him of “hiding” or being seen as a “liability” by his party.

Mr Gething has been dogged by criticism over controversial donations to his leadership campaign.

Labour said Mr Gething had given interviews on Wednesday and Thursday, and there would be “plenty of opportunity” to interview him in the weeks ahead.

While campaigning to lead Welsh Labour, Mr Gething accepted £200,000 from a company owned by a man that was previously convicted of environmental offences, raising more than £250,000 in total.

The first minister has now agreed to give the remaining £31,000 to charity, rather than the Labour Party as would normally happen.

The party’s Wales election launch was a small affair – tightly controlled – with about 30 supporters, made up of party activists and Labour election candidates.

The message from the floor, delivered by Mr Gething, then shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens and Ms Rayner, was one of change.

“People who lost trust in us at the last general election are ready to return to us in large numbers if we win this campaign,” said Mr Gething.

“People do not feel better off because of 14 years of Tory rule.

“This is a change election – the change that Wales needs, the change that Britain needs – and that means looking forward to a Labour future.”

Addressing the launch, Ms Rayner praised the Welsh party’s achievements in government in Cardiff, despite what she labelled “14 years chaos” under the Conservatives at Westminster.

“You see what Welsh Labour has done, whether that’s free school meals for primary school children, whether that’s more consultants and nurses in the NHS, free prescriptions here in Wales,” she said.


Speaking afterwards, Ms Rayner said Wales was a “key component” of the election campaign.

She said Conservative ministers had been “disrespectful” to devolution – and a Labour win would see the process “turbo-charged” for the UK nations and mayoral regions “to bring growth to the whole of the UK”.

“Wales has been held back by the Conservatives in government in the UK,” she said.

Labour governments in London and Cardiff could “work collaboratively” and learn from each other, she added.

But she stressed she was “not taking any vote for granted”.

Asked about the first minister’s donations difficulties, Ms Rayner said Mr Gething was “getting on with the day job” and had been “working hard to deliver for people in Wales – and I think that’s fantastic”.

There was strong Conservative and Plaid Cymru criticism of Mr Gething not being interviewed in Llandudno.

Tory Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies said the first minister was “clearly seen as a liability by Labour politicians on both ends of the M4”.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts called Mr Gething’s donations “toxic – and Labour knows it” but added “as the first minister of Wales, he has a duty to be answerable to the people of Wales”.

Labour’s choice of a north Wales location for the launch event came as no surprise.

The Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party captured five seats across the region in 2019 and Labour will be focusing much of its campaigning firepower on winning those areas back, under the new constituency boundaries.

The 40 Welsh Westminster seats of 2019 will become 32 at the 4 July poll, to even out the size of population they represent.

Just one seat stays the same. Ynys Môn was given special status as an island.