A row over who is the official leader of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party is continuing after the party was struck off the electoral register earlier in November.
The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, which was first registered in 2015, finds itself in an ongoing row with its former leader, David Bevan.
Bevan, who was sacked earlier this year, has been accused of attempting to steal the party’s name, and has since registered another “Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party”.
It emerged earlier this year that Mr Bevan had failed to complete the necessary paperwork to re-register with the Electoral Commission. As a result, he was sacked, and the party was threatened with being struck off ahead of next year’s Senedd elections.
In a bizarre turn of events, there are now two attempted registrations for the party’s name; one submitted by Bevan, and another re-submitted by the party itself.
In addition to this, there are also two websites purporting to belong to the party; one listing Mr Bevan as the leader, and the other announcing the selection of Richard Suchorzewski as leader.
Suchorzewski previously said that the decision to allow the registration of the party to lapse was intentional, because, despite him being sacked, Bevan could not be removed as the party’s leader without him signing his own paperwork.
The two opposing sides now find themselves in a battle to secure the name, a battle in which the Electoral Commission says it will “assess both applications in line with the legal requirements”.
Four MSs in 2021?
Abolish currently has two members of the Senedd: Mark Reckless and Gareth Bennett.
Neither members were directly elected, however, having both been elected under the UKIP banner at the 2016 Welsh Assembly Elections.
Reckless, who was previously the leader of the Brexit Party group in the Senedd, defected to the party earlier in October, the fifth defection in his career. Meanwhile, Bennett crossed the chamber in the summer, having previously sat as an independent.
Unsurprisingly, the single-issue party wishes to see the abolition of the Welsh Assembly, now known as the Senedd Cymru Welsh Parliament. One of the websites listed under the party’s name states that the party opposes “any further transfer of powers [to Wales]”.
In the most recent Welsh Political Barometer, the party is predicted to increase its number of seats at the 2020 Senedd Elections to four. It is projected to win seven percent of the regional list vote, an increase of three percent.
At the last elections in 2016, Abolish picked up 4.3% of the regional list votes.
Overall, Labour are tipped to win 29 seats (two off a clear majority), The Welsh Conservatives 16, Plaid Cymru 11 and one for the Liberal Democrats.
“Like a thief in the night”
The new website listing Mr Bevan as the leader says that the party will be “standing candidates in the Welsh 2021 elections”.
In response to the creation of the new website, the BBC reported that a spokesperson from Abolish said: “If Mr Bevan thinks that he can steal the party, like a thief in the night, then he is very much mistaken.
“His actions are, in our opinion, those of a traitor to Wales and the Union and fully vindicates the board’s decision to remove him back in April.”
Whilst the latest polling is likely to have put a spring in the step of Abolish’s party leaders – whichever you believe to be the official leader – it’s as-yet unclear as to whether the results will come to fruition at the Senedd elections in May.
The party is also likely to face a rough ride at the polls, especially given the most up-to-date polling shows that 60% of voters at least support the status quo, or even additional powers for the Senedd.
Only one thing is clear ahead of the 2020 Senedd elections: there are currently two Abolish the Welsh Assembly Parties, but not a single Welsh Assembly in sight.twitter Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics. Politics Morgan Perry