A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
Welsh politics was recently rocked by the tragic death of Carl Sargeant, the Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, who took his own life after being suspended by the party following allegations that he had behaved improperly towards women.
The whole case was bizarre and the spotlight soon turned on certain creatures lurking in the office of First Minister Carwyn Jones, who were accused of back-stabbing and bullying, with Carl Sargeant being presented as a victim of this behaviour rather than the perpetrator of any offences himself.
Understandably, with a man taking his own life over vague allegations that seem not to have been properly investigated, or even explained to him, the spotlight also fell on Carwyn Jones, the man who employed the alleged bullies and back-stabbers.
Feelings in Sargeant’s constituency party ran high, and it was no surprise when Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the ‘Welsh’ Government and leader of the Labour Party in Wales, was told by the family not to attend the funeral of a Labour Party Assembly Member.
But what’s done is done, now we move on.
THE SON ALSO RISES
Last night the local branch of the party selected Carl Sargeant’s son Jack to stand in the by-election on Tuesday the sixth of February. This was obviously a show of solidarity with the family, and a pitch for the sympathy vote, but whether it makes sense on any other level is open to question.
I don’t know Jack Sargeant – I doubt if many do – but that doesn’t seem to matter; what does seem to matter is ‘honouring’ his dead father and sticking it to Carwyn Jones. Though how that is to be achieved without damaging the party Carl Sargeant loved is also open to question
Those reservations aside, the selection seems to have been largely welcomed among the bruvvers. Here’s a tweet from Peter Hughes who represents the trade union Unite in the South West Region (of England). For those unfamiliar with Unite, it seems to be a union popular with Labour politicians.
In the thank you speech he made last night young Jack made such play of being a local candidate for local people that I thought for a minute we were in Royston Vasey (League of Gentlemen). Which again, raises a question – for is Jack standing for the ‘Welsh’ Labour Party led by the hated Carwyn Jones or is he the candidate for some new and local incarnation of Labour? Perhaps even an Independent?
If elected, will Jack trot down to Cardiff and take the Labour whip, and orders from Carwyn Jones? If he does, then what was all the fuss about? And if he doesn’t, then the voters of Alyn and Deeside will have been duped into voting for what they believed was a Labour candidate.
Quite frankly, the selection of Jack Sargeant was pure theatre. A decision made on emotional grounds. Emotion, like anger and alcohol often results in decisions that are soon regretted.
Apart from being Carl Sargeant’s son in what other way is Jack Sargeant qualified to be the candidate and, most likely, the Assembly Member, for Alyn and Deeside?
The Royston Vasey theme continued with attacks from the Labour/Sargeant camp on other parties’ candidates for not being local. The Plaid Cymru candidate, Councillor Carrie Harper, was singled out for being from faraway Wrecsam.
Clearly, there is anger in the constituency over the way Carl Sargeant was treated by the Labour Party, so the obvious outlet for that anger would be to vote for any party other than Labour.
So is Labour being its traditional devious self by asking people to vote Labour . . . or rather, to vote for Jack Sargeant and forget that he’s the Labour candidate. For I guarantee that it will be the Sargeant name rather than ‘Labour Party’ that we’ll hear in the campaign.
We can but hope that what passes for the ‘Welsh media’ does it’s job between now and February 6th.
- ‘Tell us, Jack; if elected, will you shake hands with Carwyn Jones?’
- ‘Come to that – will you even be a member of the Labour group in the Assembly?’
- ‘You say that if elected you want to investigate the events leading up to your father’s death, but you must appreciate that the more waves you make the more damage you’ll do to the party your father loved.’
- ‘Apart from being your father’s son what qualifies you to be the candidate for Alyn and Deeside?’
- ‘Isn’t there a risk that your selection might be seen as a succession rather than as part of the democratic process?’
- ‘If elected, and after the anger has subsided, what will you have to offer the people of Alyn and Deeside?’
I expect Jack Sargeant to be elected. He will arrive in the snake-pit that is Cardiff Bay full of purpose . . . until emissaries for Carwyn Jones get to work on him. Avuncular arms will be felt on his young shoulders and messages intoned: ‘Terrible mistake . . . culprits will be punished . . . Carwyn didn’t know . . . lovely man, your dad, we all loved him . . . think of the party . . . Brexit . . . Tory bastards . . . ‘.
And we shall hear little more of young Jack Sargeant.
The alternative scenario is that the boy goes down to Cardiff with vengeance in his heart and causes chaos. The Labour Party in Wales splits along its Welsh/British fault line and politics in Wales suddenly becomes interesting.
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