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Welsh Conservatives

Former Conservative Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan MP dies after long illness at the age of 68

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Boris Johnson and Andrew RT Davies have lead tributes to the former Welsh Secretary who was MP for Chesham and Amersham

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies said: “I’m desperately saddened to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan MP has passed away.

“Cheryl was a model of public service and was respected across the political spectrum. She was incredibly proud of her Welsh roots and served with distinction as Secretary of State.

“Cheryl was a good friend to the Welsh Conservatives and will be sorely missed. On behalf of my colleagues, I send our thoughts and condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I’m very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan. She was a great servant to the people of Chesham and Amersham, to the Conservative party and to the country as secretary of state for Wales.

“Always full of wise advice and good humour, she was much loved on all sides of the House of Commons and will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.”

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Amanda Milling, the Co-Chairman of the Conservatives said: “It is with great sadness that I have to announce The Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan DBE MP passed away at the weekend. Cheryl had been ill for some time, but battled her illness with great stoicism and grace.

“Cheryl was a dedicated parliamentarian for many decades, serving in the Cabinet and she made a huge contribution to public life and our Party. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cheryl’s family and friends.”

Labour party leader, Kier Starmer MP said: “Very sad to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan has passed away. I worked with Cheryl on a number of issues. She was respected across the House and a great champion for her constituents. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

Conservative MP for Chatham & Aylesford, Tracey Crouch MP said: “I’m heartbroken to hear the desperately sad news that my colleague Cheryl Gillan has passed away.

“She had been a great source of strength as we went through chemo together. When she told me she was dying I told her all the nice things I would say so she knew she was an incredibly inspirational women in politics who fought for the things she believed in. She was always kind and helpful to us newbies. She had oodles of wisdom from her years as an MP which she shared willingly. I shall miss her greatly

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“My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. Travel peacefully Cheryl. I feel blessed to have known you.”

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Born in Llandaff near Cardiff she was brought up on family farms near Usk by her former British Army officer father and mother, who was a Wren, before leaving Wales aged 11.

She was elected as the Conservative MP for the Buckinghamshire seat of Chesham and Amersham in 1992. She was a junior minister for Education and Employment from 1995 to 1997 in John Major’s government, then Conservative whip and spokesperson for Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Home Affairs.

She was the Shadow Welsh Secretary from 2005 to 2010, assuming the cabinet position of Secretary of State for Wales in the Coalition Government after the 2010 general election.

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She was awarded a damehood in the 2018 New Year Honours.

Her death will trigger a by-election in the relatively safe Conservative seat of Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire.


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Welsh Conservatives

Welsh Conservative leader criticises Cardiff Bay Government’s £150k spend on ‘woke’ jobs

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The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies has criticised the Labour-run Government in Cardiff Bay after it’s claimed they spent £150,000 on four diversity officers last year.

The spend has lead to accusations that they are more interested in “woke” issues than dealing with everyday problems like the cost-of-living.

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A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives revealed that “there are four staff in roles which have responsibility solely or predominantly for diversity issues in the Welsh Government”. Supported by colleagues across the organisation, the total sum spent on salaries for these staff during 2021-2022 was £151,436.62.

The figure only includes salaries and does not include other use of public money for the roles such as employer national insurance, pension contributions, and resources like computers.

The grades, salary ranges, and average salaries for the pay bands of the four staff are:

  • Team Support: Salary range £21,300-£24,630; Average is £22,963
  • Part-time Executive Officer: Salary range £25,860-£29,430; Average is £27,370 (Full-time)
  • Senior Executive Officer: Salary range £40,100-£47,470; Average is £43,437
  • Grade 7: Salary range £51,380-£61,440; Average is £56,072

However, the Welsh Government Employer Equality Report for 2020/21, released last month, revealed that pass rates for Fixed Term Appointment schemes in its civil service were lower for:

  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants compared to White (12% compared to 18%);
  • applicants from a minority sexual orientation compared to heterosexual (11% to 18%);
  • and disabled applicants compared to not disabled (15% to 18%).

It admitted: “Overall (as an average across all schemes) we, generally, did not meet the new targets agreed in 2021”.

The Welsh Government workforce by race is 91% white and only 3% declared themselves to be of a different ethnicity. 6% did not declare or preferred not to say. The report also revealed that fewer than 200 of the 2,700 external applications to work in the Welsh Government were from non-white people.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “£150,000 is not going to solve the cost-of-living crisis – but spending money on redundant, woke jobs shows a complete lack of perspective and priority within the Labour Government when it comes to spending public money.

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“Not only that, it seems that having diversity officers is not producing positive results, with any progress being very slow.

“I think spending this much money on this many people to tell the Labour-run Welsh Government that they should hire people based on demographic characteristics rather than on merit and the content of their character suggests something is deeply wrong within its recruitment practices, or that it is more concerned with virtue-signalling than achieving actual results.”

(Lead image: Welsh Conservatives)

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Museums

Review of locomotive replica amid slave trade links branded “wokeness getting out of control”

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A decision to review a replica of the first steam-powered locomotive in Wales over claims it was linked to the slave trade has been branded “utterly preposterous” by the Welsh Conservatives.

The National Museum Wales could relabel Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey in 1804, to highlight slave trade links.

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Officials at the Museum admitted there were no direct links between the Trevithick locomotive and the slave trade, but they said the use of the invention is “rooted in colonialism and racism.”

The museum has confirmed the Trevithick replica, which is on display in the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, would be subject to the Charter for Decolonising audit.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tom Giffard MS, said: “Threatening to relabel a replica locomotive created by someone who had no direct links to the slave trade is utterly preposterous.

“This is just another example of wokeness getting out of control, and it appears that the museum has well and truly lost the plot if they go ahead with this.

“Fantastic pieces of work such as Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, which was used in the first steam-powered rail journey, should be celebrated – not punished.”

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(Lead image: Wikimedia / Oxyman / Creative Commons)

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Food & Drink

Call for Food Summit in Wales as Ukraine crisis triggers supply worries

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The Leader of the Opposition in the Senedd today called for a Food Summit to bring together industry leaders to agree a strategy to build resilience and security into Wales’ food supply chains.

Questioning the First Minister today, Andrew RT Davies MS highlighted that Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports, with the current conflict being waged there by Russia is endangering Wales’ food security.

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Mr Davies added: “It’s not just wheat, but fertiliser and many other fundamental aspects of food production” that are under threat, with knock-on consequences for the abilities of British farmers to cultivate their own produce and price increases for consumers as wheat prices jump by a third.

This prompted the Welsh Conservative leader to ask the Cardiff Bay Government to convene a Food Summit “of farmers, processors, and retailers so they can inform the policy development work and outcomes of the Welsh Government so Wales can play its part in growing its food production base and play our part in overall food security goals of this country”, in light of Russian aggression.

The First Minister said he would instruct the Rural Affairs Minister to discuss such a summit with industry leaders following a UK Inter-ministerial meeting where they will ask for food security to be on the agenda.

Davies, who is also a farmer by trade, also quizzed Mark Drakeford if the forthcoming Agriculture Bill – the first of its kind in 75 years – would be significantly changed in light of the Ukrainian conflict.

The First Minister said in response: “The agriculture Bill will, of course, support the production of food by Welsh farmers, and the changing nature of the marketplace, the Member is right, needs to be taken into account in that”.

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 Commenting afterwards, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The barbaric Russian campaign against a sovereign and democratic Ukraine extends far beyond that country and it is important that the freedom-loving world prepares itself for the consequences.

“One of these is certainly food security because it is not just the crops of the bread basket of Europe that will be lost, but vital by-products like fertiliser that I know, as a farmer, is an essential part to food production.

“That’s why industry leaders from food retailers and processors to farming unions must assemble urgently in a landmark Food Summit to build resilience into our food supply chains.

“With the Agriculture Bill coming up, now is the time to respond to the conflict in Ukraine and deliver a strong future for Welsh food security with a long-term vision of self-sufficiency and free trade with other free countries, ending our reliance on those with leaders like Putin.”

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