Political News (Wales)

The latest political news across our nation

Is launching Ein Gwlad now interfering with Plaid Cymru’s leadership contest? Dr Stephen Morris (spokesperson) and Gwyn Wigley Evans (Interim leader) answer the question.

A former Assembly Member has been charged with three counts of making indecent images of children.

Simon Thomas resigned in July from his role as a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales.

He was arrested in July and has twice been bailed for 28 days.

Police have now confirmed he has been charged with three counts.

A spokes woman for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We can confirm that 54-year-old Simon Thomas from Aberystwyth has today been charged with three counts of making indecent images of children and will appear at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court on October 3, 2018.”

Mr Thomas lives in Aberystwyth with his wife and two children.

A former MP, he was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Ceredigion in 2000 and 2001.

After losing his seat he became a development manager with Technium in Pembrokeshire before becoming a special senior adviser to the Welsh Government .

He was elected to the National Assembly for Wales in 2011 and again in 2016.

After his resignation the seat was offered to the candidate who had been second on the regional list at the time of the last election.

Former Plaid AM Helen Mary Jones agreed to return to the Senedd and was sworn in in August.

She said her return to politics was with “profound regret”.

Ms Jones said she was ready to undertake “the great honour” of serving the people of Mid and West Wales to the best of her ability.

Paul Davies won the Welsh Conservative leadership by a two to one majority over his opponent, Suzy Davies. Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

The new leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly, Paul Davies has reshuffled his party’s team of shadow ministers. The appointments include major roles both for Suzy Davies, whom he defeated in the leadership election and for his predecessor, Andrew RT Davies.

 A police force is set to double the number of officers it has trained to use Tasers in response to drug gangs increasingly carrying weapons.

South Wales Police said it would train an additional 281 officers over the next 12 months, taking the proportion of trained officers up from 10% to 20%

It follows a review by the force into the best ways for officers to protect the public and themselves.

North Wales Police and Gwent Police are also training more officers.

Dyfed-Powys Police has been asked to comment.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alun Michael said: “The use of a Taser is often misunderstood and misrepresented so it’s important to stress that – properly used – it is a means of preventing injury, not of causing injury.

“I am very confident that the use of Taser by our officers is proportionate and frequently prevents harm.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan added: “On average, South Wales Police officers are subjected to around nine assaults each week, which sadly include kicking, biting, punching and spitting.

“In addition, we are aware of growing evidence that gangs linked to drugs trafficking and County Lines activity are increasingly likely to be carrying weapons.

“We intend to be ready should these trends have an increasing impact in our area.”

The force said it did not anticipate there being a significant increase in the amount of times Tasers were discharged.

It said last year Tasers were deployed in 227 cases but discharged in 16 instances.

North Wales Police said it had recently increased the number of officers trained to use a Taser from 240 to 300.

In August the force’s PCC Arfon Jones said the number of attacks against officers was “contemptible” and said he wanted the majority of frontline officers in his force to be armed with Tasers to protect themselves.

Gwent Police also said it had increased the number of specially trained Taser officers in response to “ever-changing policing challenges” but could not disclose exact numbers due to operational sensitivity.

In October one of its officers, PC Rhydian Jones, was attacked by a man with two kitchen knives. He later said he owed his life to his stab-proof vest and the Taser his colleague had been armed with.

The contest to succeed Carwyn Jones as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister has intensified as four Assembly Members have gone public with their support for Eluned Morgan, bringing her tantalisingly close to being able to stand.

However it leaves her one short of the number of nominations she needs to be a candidate leading to anger that there may not be a female candidate in the forthcoming leadership election.

Two of those nominating the Welsh Language and lifelong learning minister had hoped to stand themselves. Fellow government members Huw Irranca-Davies and Alun Davies have withdrawn from the race in order to back her candidature.

They join Dawn Bowden and David Rees in saying they’ll nominate Eluned Morgan. She requires the support of five others to be able to stand, leaving her one short. Of the Labour group of AMs, only the First Minister Carwyn Jones hasn’t declared support for a candidate. He says he’ll remain neutral.

The contest hasn’t technically begun yet and won’t until Carwyn Jones formally resigns which he’s expected to do around the time of next week’s Labour party conference.

But there’s been some bitterness directed at the campaign of the front-runner, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford. He now has 15 nominations pledged, more than half the Labour Assembly group.

There has been public and private criticism of that situation with it being suggested that he’s ‘hoovering up’ support in a deliberate attempt to shut down debate, a suggestion he firmly denies.

Vaughan Gething, the Health Secretary, has the required five nominations and had urged fellow AMs to ensure a female candidate was on the ballot paper.

Eluned Morgan has been considered the only credible woman candidate but she’s struggled to get the nominations needed. Her supporters believed she had the required amount and were preparing to launch their campaign officially this week.

That changed however when environment minister Hannah Blythyn announced that she was supporting Mark Drakeford, followed by Jack Sargeant.

Angry supporters of Eluned Morgan feel there’s been a concerted effort to prevent her standing and the likelihood of a contest without a woman candidate has been roundly criticised by Labour members and activists on social media.

In their statement, the four AMs say they won’t necessarily vote for Eluned Morgan in the election itself but that they believe there should be a diverse set of candidates.