The senior politician Mark Drakeford has confirmed he is a contender to become the next Welsh Labour leader, despite the fact that on his watch as health minister the largest health authority in Wales was placed in special measures after a huge scandal exploded at a mental health unit in a North Wales hospital, The Eye revealed that a police investigation was underway following allegations of the way patients were treated at a Mid Wales hospital, health workers were suspended following the death of a pensioner, and a key supporter ‘liked’ a tweet warning of a “Jewish conspiracy”.
It also comes despite the fact that Professor Drakeford categorically ruled out his bid in a previous interview.
He said: “I’ve no ambitions in politics at all. Do I want to be First Minister? No, I don’t. Am I ambitious to be First Minister? No, I’m not”.
Darren Williams is a major supporter of Professor Drakeford’s on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) who jointly-founded Welsh Labour Grassroots, which serves as Wales’ branch of the Corbyn-backing Momentum group.
But he is no stranger to controversy either.
The contentious tweet that was ‘liked’ by Mr Williams read: “There are conspiracies by Jews – one of them being the #GnasherJew site – there are conspiracies in all walks of life – I believe #GnasherJew is causing a lot of grief for decent Jews in Britain who don’t like fanaticism – so counter-productive”
In a statement, Mr Williams defended himself against accusations of anti-Semitism, adding that he feared “certain individuals” misuse accusations of anti-Semitism to target “those who are merely voicing legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state”.
Yet accusations of anti-Semitism have long been a problem for Labour.
Only last night the party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of repairing relations with the Jewish community suffered a blow after Jewish leaders labelled a key meeting with him over anti-Semitism a “disappointing missed opportunity” with little achieved.
In a joint statement the heads of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Board of Deputies (BoD) said Mr Corbyn had failed to agree to any of their demands aiming to combat anti-Semitism within Labour.
Last month he came under fire for appearing to endorse a mural of bankers with big noses playing monopoly on the heads of people.
It emerged he had said to the artist on Facebook after it was ordered to be whitewashed: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller (sic) destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin”.
Yet Mr Corbyn had appeared to acknowledge the problem of anti-Semitism in Labour himself, before last night’s meeting.
He said: “We have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology.
“My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.”
But the backdrop is worrying and his own election campaign chief has said Labour members must acknowledge that the party has an issue with anti-Semitism.
Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary who helped to mastermind last year’s election campaign, said that Mr Corbyn must work to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.
Yet Professor Drakeford appears unconcerned at having a supporter with accusations such as this in the background.
Mr Williams said: “Thanks in large part to Mark’s (Professor Drakeford’s) clear-sightedness… Wales has been spared the financially-ruinous PFI (Private Finance Initiative and) our NHS has been protected”.
As Welsh Health Minister, he added, Mr Drakeford had ‘skilfully’ defended the ‘achievements’ from “the malicious propaganda of (David) Cameron and (Jeremy) Hunt”.
Yet Professor Drakeford’s detractors see it rather differently, after a huge scandal erupted during his tenure as Welsh Health Minister.
Tawel Fan at Ysbyty Clwyd was closed in December 2013 when shocking revelations were made by The Daiy Mail.
Patients were ‘treated like animals’ and filmed crawling across floors.
A report into the scandal in 2015 said there was “institutional abuse” and Tawel Fan is now likely to be demolished.
The controversial Chief Executive of the health board, Trevor Purt, was first suspended then left his post.
In the same year, families had said their loved ones were treated like animals in a zoo and 10 members of staff were reported to their professional bodies.
Professor Drakeford, now the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, apologised and said there would be an “urgent meeting”.
Yet it would appear that questions about the treatment of patients in the Welsh NHS have persistently dogged Professor Drakeford’s time as health minister in Wales, although this has not hindered him being touted as the next person who may now become Welsh first minister.
The Eye were given exclusive details by whistleblowers who had worked at Brecon War Memorial Hospital of how an elderly stroke victim was allegedly slapped in bed by a carer, and visiting families were forced to bring in food to keep their starving relatives alive.
We have also been told that falsification of notes at the hospital was “routine practice”.
One whistleblower said: “The night culture at Brecon hospital is amateur at best, dangerous at worst.
“(Staff were) drunk on duty, nurses (were) put to bed as they were drunk, then woken up before days-staff turned up.
“A convicted sex-offender was working as a care assistant.”
A police investigation followed which lasted several months.
The disturbing news of the events at the Brecon hospital came hard on the heels of earlier scandals, also on Mr Drakeford’s watch as Welsh health minister.
At Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in Mountain Ash, 10 hospital workers were suspended after the death of an elderly woman who was found with “unexplained and serious injuries” on a ward.
Meanwhile nurses at a hospital in Bridgend were investigated by police for allegedly drugging elderly and difficult patients to enjoy a quiet night shift.
One nurse blew the whistle on what was happening before the death of an 82 year old woman, Lillian Willams, at the town’s Princess of Wales hospital.
She had one of her legs amputated but died in 2013 after a catalogue of neglect at the hospital, which is part of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) health board.
In total two deaths at the Princess of Wales hospital, occurred after a review recommended changes in practices which should have ensured “patient safety”.
Following the first death, ABMU said they had found “aspects of the patient’s care that were not up to standard” and an immediate action plan was designed “with an emphasis on communication, further staff training, record-keeping, recognising early signs of a patient’s condition deteriorating and escalating this appropriately in line with health board policy”.
The patient’s family in one of the Princess of Wales cases was offered “sincere condolences” and officials were “sorry they (the family) have needed to contact us with concerns”.
It seems others in the Welsh media have shied away from these rather unfortunate facts about Professor Drakeford.
But not The Eye.