Instead Labour put the Union first and avoided controversy
Only nine AMs backed the no confidence motion with 40 against and no abstentions.
Plaid said Labour had let the Vale of Glamorgan MP off the hook,
“despite his serious failures to do what’s best for Wales”.
Instead a Welsh Government amendment that was heavily critical of Mr Cairns and regretted the lack of investment was passed.
Plaid Cymru had called the vote saying it had no faith in either Alun Cairns or the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a whole.Plaid AM Simon Thomas said his party’s motion came after the refusal to back the tidal lagoon and an earlier decision by Theresa May not to progress with electrifying the railway between Cardiff and Swansea.
Opening the debate, Mr Thomas said:
“I understand not everyone will support the content of the motion, and there are amendments before us, but I think it is vital that we allow ourselves to debate the motion of no confidence in the Secretary of State.
“We’re here to judge one man’s responsibility, and one man’s responsibility to deliver on manifesto commitments, and that’s what I want to judge the Secretary of State on a commitment in 2015 to do two major pieces of infrastructure investment in Wales, worth over Â£2 billion of investment to electrify the railway between Swansea and Cardiff, and to support the tidal lagoon.”
He said that Mr Cairns was elected on a manifesto to “finish the job on electrification and to support the tidal lagoon”.
“Since that 2015 manifesto circumstances have changed, many of them created by the Conservative Government itself, of course, in calling the referendum on leaving the European Union, but neither of those major investments have been made, calling into question not only the good words of the Secretary of State himself but, I think, politics more widely.
“All of us who stand for election on manifestos and I’ve seen some of the response this week from my constituents around this, who now feel that they are not being listened to, that manifesto commitments and promises can be broken willy-nilly”.
Rhun ap Iorwerth said that Mr Cairns was “Westminster’s man in Wales, not Wales’ man in Westminster”.
“Alun Cairns is reinventing the role of Welsh Secretary as governor general for Wales? I oppose that in principle, I oppose that as a Welshman, and when it’s clear that that governor general is working against Wales’s interest, isn’t it incumbent on all of us to vote no confidence in him?“
.A total of nine AMs backed the no-confidence motion, versus 40 against.
Instead a Welsh Government amendment criticising Mr Cairns for failing Wales, but not going as far Plaid, was passed 31 votes to 18.
The Conservatives backed their party colleague Mr Cairns.
Newly installed interim leader of the Welsh Conservatives group Paul Davies said his colleagues shared the disappointment about the lagoon announcement, made on Monday.
He said it is
“only appropriate that we take the opportunity to be a little more objective and recognise some of the positive outcomes delivered by the Secretary of State”.
What would Plaid Cymru do if Westminster sought to pass a vote of no confidence in the first minister,” said Tory AM and former deputy presiding officer David Melding.He called the motion “constitutional nonsense” and silly politics” This is a government with form when it comes to saying no to Wales,” said Welsh Government finance secretary and Labour AM Mark Drakeford.
He said there was little that Labour AMs would have dissented from in Mr Thomas’ comments, but said it did not make the best sense to pass no-confidence motions of people who are not AMs.
There was very little in what Simon Thomas had to say in opening this debate that I would have dissented from at all. I think it is simply that on this side, we do not believe that it makes best sense for this institution to be drawn into passing motions of no confidence in individuals who are not elected to the National Assembly nor answerable to it.
“In the minds of the public, a motion of no confidence in a political setting has a particular purpose.
“If it is carried, the individual must resign. And we know that this would not be the case in this instance; it would be a gesture, the leader of Plaid Cymru told us.
Of course it;s a gesture but Jeremy Corbyn calling for the cancellation of Donald Trump’s visit is also a gesture .What is an amendment regretting the lack of investment anything but a gesture in that Westminster will pay absolutely no interest in it?
Everybody knows the Assembly does not appoint the
Governor General Welsh Secretary but when he or she lets down Wales in the manner Alun Cairns’ has done a vote of no confidence is the strongest gesture we have.
Labour stance can only be interpenetrated as preserving the integrity of the Welsh Secretary and the Assembly passing a motion in no confidence in their man or woman in the job.
Once again we were shown there is no “Welsh” Labour as they put the symbolism of a Office of State before the interests of Wales.
There has been
speculation stirring by some Labour pundits trying to discredit Plaid that there could be a Tory-Plaid coalition government in the Welsh Assembly
Quite how worse to a spineless “Welsh” labour government would be open to question.
But if Plaid were to back either there would surely have to be a major move to an immediate parity with Scotland when it came to powers.
Anything else would be a true example of a gesture.