Alun Davies (politician)


Thomas Alun Rhys Davies (born 12 February 1964) is a Welsh Labour Co-operative politician and former Welsh Government Minister. Davies began his political career in Plaid Cymru, but later joined the Labour Party. He has been a member of the Senedd Cymru since 2007, initially representing the Mid and West Wales region and since 2011 his home seat of Blaenau Gwent. Before being elected he worked as a public affairs consultant.

Alun Davies

Cabinet Secretary for Housing
and Local Government
In office
3 November 2017  13 December 2018
First MinisterCarwyn Jones
Preceded byCarl Sargeant
Succeeded byJulie James
Member of the Senedd
for Blaenau Gwent
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded byTrish Law
Majority650 (3.1%)
Member of the Senedd
for Mid and West Wales
In office
3 May 2007  5 May 2011
Preceded byGlyn Davies
Succeeded byRebecca Evans
Personal details
Born (1964-02-12) 12 February 1964 (age 56)
Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales
Political partyWelsh Labour & Co-operative 2002-Present Plaid Cymru 1990-2002[1]
Spouse(s)Anna McMorrin
Alma materUniversity of Wales, Aberystwyth
OccupationPublic affairs consultant, businessman & politician
WebsiteWelsh Labour

Background


Davies was born in Tredegar and went to Tredegar Comprehensive School followed by the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth where he graduated with a BSc (Econ) degree in International Politics in 1986.[2] He was involved in student politics at the time and was elected President of National Union of Students Wales. He first worked as a campaigner on environmental issues for the World Wide Fund for Nature, and later as a poverty campaigner for Oxfam during which time he visited Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Professional career


Davies worked as public and corporate affairs manager for Hyder, which combined Wales' main utilities, and Davies specialised in its capital investment programme. He subsequently transferred to be Head of Public Affairs at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, and later became Director of Corporate Affairs for Welsh language television station S4C. In 2004 he started Bute Communications, his own public affairs consultancy.

Political career


Davies stood as a Plaid-Green Alliance candidate for the Blaenau Gwent parliamentary seat in 1992. He also stood for Plaid Cymru in 1997 in the Cynon Valley.

After taking some years out of politics to pursue his professional career he was selected as Labour's candidate in Ceredigion at the 2005 general election.

On 10 August, Davies became the fifth Welsh Assembly Member to declare an interest in standing to be the next Welsh Labour Leader and next First Minister.[3] He withdrew on 18 September 2018 after failing to secure any nominations and instead endorsed Eluned Morgan.[4]

National Assembly for Wales

He was chosen as first on the Labour Party list for 'top-up' seats from the Mid and West Wales region for the 2007 Assembly election, and because of Labour losses in the region the party secured two seats.

Since being elected to the Assembly he was awarded the BBC Wales' AM:PM award for "Newcomer of the Year"[5] and has chaired the Broadcasting Committee[6] and the Rural Development Sub-Committee.

In July 2009 he was selected to fight his home seat of Blaenau Gwent at the next Assembly elections; he won the seat with a majority of 9,120 over the Independent candidate.

On 13 May 2011 Davies was appointed Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes in the Welsh Government.[7]

On 14 March 2013 he was appointed Minister for Natural Resources and Food in the Welsh Government. Davies was however removed in July 2014 by First Minister Carwyn Jones from the Cabinet for "unacceptable behaviour" involving requests for information about farm subsidies paid to opposition AMs including Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd and Conservative Antoinette Sandbach.[8]

In May 2016 he was re-elected as the Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent and was re-appointed to the Welsh Government as Minister for Lifelong Learning and the Welsh Language[9] where he was responsible for the new Welsh language strategy to create a million Welsh speakers and reforming the education framework for learners with additional learning needs.

After a BBC Newsnight report on the Welsh language, Davies publicly released a rebuttal as Minister for the Welsh Language in August 2017, stating the broadcaster had presented the issue as if "the Welsh language had to justify its own existence". He questioned the decision to not bring on a Welsh speaker to talk about the language as part of the broadcast, and accused the London broadcaster of treating Wales "like a nation far away about whom Newsnight knows little".[9]

On 3 November 2017, Davies was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services.[10] He again left the cabinet in December 2018 after a re-shuffle by incoming First Minister Mark Drakeford.[11]

Controversies


In 2005, while Labour's candidate for Ceredigion, he clashed with Welsh actor Rhys Ifans at a Cardiff hotel over support for the Iraq War. The police were called, no charges were brought and Davies subsequently apologised.[12]

After becoming an AM in 2007, he was criticised for claiming back the mortgage interest payments for a home he bought in Cardiff five years before he became an AM.[13]

In 2013 he was criticised by the cross-party Environment and Sustainability Committee for being evasive during a question session and giving contradictory answers:[14]

"In a letter to the Finance Committee about the Natural Resources department's budget, the AMs said: "We are disappointed with the timeliness of information provided by the minister, and the oral evidence session, where a number of questions were evaded or contradictory information provided. We believe that this is an indicator of problems at the heart of financial management and planning of this department and we will continue to keep a very close eye on these issues both in-year and at future budget rounds. We believe the department's approach to financial management hinders general transparency. We are therefore unable to assess whether the budget is appropriately prioritised and is providing value for money."

In the Spring of 2014 he confessed to entering into a relationship with his own special advisor, Anna McMorrin, and confirmed that as a result both had left their long term partners as a result. McMorrin was moved from her role.[15]

On 10 June 2014, the First Minister announced an investigation into a letter Davies wrote to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regarding environmental concerns with the proposed development of the Circuit of Wales race track in his own constituency. As well as making up part of his ministerial portfolio, NRW had expressed concerns about the race tracks development.[16] In an investigation undertaken by Permanent Secretary Sir Derek Jones CMG, his report published on 1 July 2014 concluded that Davies had breached the Ministerial Code.[17] The report noted that in March 2013, Davies had been advised by his own department not to lobby even as the AM in the case of the race track, but had ignored this advice and had then written to NRW as the affected AM.[17] The report also revealed that the First Minister had contacted Davies in August 2013, after Davies had expressed support for the circuit openly in quote to the Western Mail newspaper.[17] Davies faced no punishment by the First Minister, but endured sustained calls for him to resign due to his behaviour.[18]

On 8 July 2014 he was sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones following his repeated written requests to his civil servants for the private details of Common Agricultural Policy payments made to opposition members, including: Andrew RT Davies (Leader, Welsh Conservatives); Antoinette Sandbach (Conservative); Kirsty Williams (Leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats); William Powell (Welsh Liberal Democrats); and Llyr Gruffydd (Plaid Cymru).[19]

In October 2018 he was criticised for comparing councils who asked for extra funding to Oliver Twist.[20]

References


  1. "Member Profile". National Assembly for Wales.
  2. "Alumni at the Senedd". Aberystwyth University. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  3. "Welsh Labour leader hopeful Alun Davies feels 'imprisoned' by politics". BBC News. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. "Labour leadership rivals pull out to back Eluned Morgan". 18 September 2018 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  5. "Jones takes top politician award". 5 December 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  6. "Broadcasting Committee - National Assembly for Wales" (PDF). National Assembly for Wales. 14 July 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  7. "Written Statement - Launch of the reflection exercise for the future European Programmes in Wales". GOV.WALES. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  8. Bodden, Tom (8 July 2014). "Welsh Government's Environment Minister Alun Davies sacked". northwales. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  9. "Alun Davies responds to Newsnight's Welsh language report". GOV.WALES. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. "Ex-Plaid leader is made culture minister". BBC News. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  11. "Wales' new first minister Mark Drakeford appoints his team". BBC News. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  12. "Our man said sorry for Ifans clash, says Labour". walesonline. 10 April 2005.
  13. Shipton, Martin (17 December 2008). "Fresh storms over AMs' expenses". walesonline.
  14. "Minister Alun Davies gave 'evasive' answers, committee says". BBC News. 25 October 2013.
  15. Shipton, Martin (20 May 2014). "Revealed: Concern over Minister, his specialist adviser and their relationship". walesonline.
  16. "Probe into claims minister broke government rules". BBC Wales. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  17. "Alun Davies breached code by lobbying but will not be sacked". BBC Wales. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  18. "Jones defends not sacking minister for breaching code". BBC Wales. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  19. "Environment Minister Alun Davies sacked from Welsh government". BBC Wales. 8 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  20. "Minister Alun Davies says councillors 'like Oliver Twist'". BBC News. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

Offices held


Senedd Cymru
Preceded by
Glyn Davies
Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales
2007–2011
Succeeded by
Rebecca Evans
Preceded by
Trish Law
Member of the Senedd for Blaenau Gwent
2011–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
(new post)
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries & European Programmes
2011 - 2014
Succeeded by
Rebecca Evans
Preceded by
(new post)
Minister for Natural Resources and Food
2013 - 2014
Succeeded by
Post Abolished
Preceded by
(new post)
Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language
2016 - 2017
Succeeded by
Post Abolished
Preceded by
Carl Sargeant
Cabinet Secretary for Housing and Local Government
2017 - 2018
Succeeded by
Julie James