Neil McEvoy is a Welsh politician who has represented the South Wales Central region at the Welsh Parliament since 2016. Formerly representing Plaid Cymru, he was temporarily expelled from the party in 2018 and sits as a Welsh National Party Member of the Senedd. He was elected to the Senedd, then known as the Welsh Assembly, on the Plaid Cymru regional list, under the Additional Member System. In February 2020 he announced his intention to form a new political party, the Welsh National Party.
This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (November 2019)
McEvoy in 2016
|Leader of the Welsh National Party|
|Assumed office |
15 January 2020
|Preceded by||Party established|
|Member of the Senedd |
for South Wales Central
|Assumed office |
5 May 2016
|Preceded by||Leanne Wood|
|Cardiff Councillor |
|Assumed office |
1 May 2008
|Preceded by||Michael Costas-Michael|
|Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council|
16 May 2008 – 3 May 2012
Serving with Judith Woodman
|Cardiff Councillor |
6 May 1999 – 10 June 2004
|Preceded by||J. Singh|
|Succeeded by||J. Austin|
|Born||4 April 1970|
|Political party||Welsh National Party (2020–present)|
|Independent (2018–2020) Plaid Cyrmu (2003–2018) |
Labour (until 2003)
|Profession||Politician. Formerly a teacher.|
Early life and career
Born in South Wales, McEvoy has both English and Irish heritage through his father, whilst his mother's father came to the Welsh capital Cardiff from Yemen. McEvoy previously trained and worked as a teacher of modern languages.
McEvoy was elected to Cardiff Council as Welsh Labour Councillor for Riverside in 1999 and later became vice-chair of the Labour council group, he defected to Plaid Cymru in 2003. He lost his seat in Riverside in 2004, but was elected in 2008 in the Fairwater ward. He then became Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council between 2008-2012 under a Liberal Democrat-Plaid Cymru coalition government. In 2012 he was re-elected to represent Fairwater.
In September 2012, despite Plaid's decision not to put forward any candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections, McEvoy said that he wanted to stand for the PCC for South Wales Police. McEvoy did not stand, Plaid did not put forward a candidate, and subsequently former MP Alun Michael won the position for Welsh Labour.
McEvoy stood as a constituency candidate for Cardiff West in the 2016 Assembly election, which saw Plaid Cymru's share of the vote increase by 11.9%. The incumbent AM, Labour's Mark Drakeford, saw his majority reduced to 1,176 votes, with the Conservatives in third place.
In the run-up to the 2017 Cardiff Council election, Wales Online described McEvoy as "arguably the most divisive frontline elected politician in Wales right now" who, despite being "at the forefront of an unprecedented growth of Plaid support and membership in Cardiff" had a "sometimes difficult relationship" with his adopted party, Plaid Cymru.
McEvoy has, contrary to the policy of Plaid Cymru, supported the continuation of the Right to Buy scheme in Wales. He opposed the Welsh Government's Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 which saw most forms of corporal punishment of children prohibited.
In August 2019 McEvoy gave an Assembly speech informing First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford of costs of up to £245 to change lightbulbs under the Welsh Government Warm Homes/Arbed Am Byth scheme. Drakeford responded to the claims with a letter stating that costs of £245 represented work including lighting fitting in "not less than 80% of all fixed outlets" in homes, as opposed to £245 for individual lightbulb fittings. McEvoy responded by accusing the First Minister of discussing the matter with Arbed Am Byth alone, and not investigating contractors directly. He states he is unable to disclose details of his "whistle-blowers" to the First Minister but would be contacting the Auditor General for Wales.
McEvoy was included in a list of the AMs with the largest budgets for staff and constituency office costs in the Assembly. He was described as budgeting £115,865 for his office, which McEvoy described as necessary to deal with "an enormous amount of casework" and stated his "office is far busier than the local Westminster MP". His budget was the largest of any AMs in the Assembly.
2019 Plaid Cymru conference debates
McEvoy has contributed to the debate around the Plaid Cymru conference, which is scheduled for 4 and 5 October in Swansea. He has voiced opinions on matters including the election for a Chair. Incumbent Chair Alun Ffred Jones, who presided over the party during McEvoy's disciplinary issues, ran against Dr Dewi Evans, who is an ally of McEvoy, and who was nominated alongside seven other prospective party officials by McEvoy's home Plaid branch of West Cardiff. Evans has been arguing for reform of the party's extension system. Candidates nominated by the Cardiff West constituency party include a former barrister who has represented McEvoy, and other perceived[clarification needed] allies.
Jones, in response to Dr Evans' proposals, argued that the role of Chair did not extend to re-admitting expelled members, and that the Plaid National Conference would need to discuss issues such as McEvoy's membership of the party. Plaid leader Adam Price, in an op-ed for Nation.Cymru, criticised "reports of a concerted attempt by some non-members of Plaid Cymru to intervene in our democracy", a criticism which some commentators[who?] have said is a reference to McEvoy's efforts during the Plaid conference to replace incumbent Chair Jones. Plaid AM Rhun ap Iorwerth made a tweet regarding McEvoy which stated "Don’t misunderstand me. His personality is a problem, but it goes far beyond ‘not liking [McEvoy]. If anyone – for reasons of personality or otherwise – bullies, undermines, threatens, challenges legally… time after time… it’s a problem."
Prospective contest of 2021 Cardiff West seat
The issues with McEvoy's 2019 membership dispute with the party are particularly acute given his stated intention to again contest Cardiff West Assembly Election against the now First Minister Mark Drakeford. Plaid view the seat as an important target given the close result in 2016, and McEvoy would likely split the vote should both he and a Plaid Cymru candidate stand.
Recording of the Standards Commissioner
Senedd Commissioner for Standards Sir Roderick Evans resigned on 11 November 2019 after audio transcripts were published containing what McEvoy described as "bias", "really sexist views" about "female lawyers" as well as comments that former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood should "wind her neck in". The transcripts were quoted in the chamber by Assembly Brexit Party leader Mark Reckless, who later withdrew the comments on the request of the speaker, Elin Jones. The speaker subsequently ordered a security sweep of the assembly estate. McEvoy always stated he was the source of the recordings, which he said were made on his mobile phone in meeting rooms in the Senedd. Sir Roderick said McEvoy's conduct was "wholly unacceptable", and Jones requested that South Wales Police investigate the recordings.
Foundation of the Welsh National Party
In 2019 McEvoy announced that he was not seeking to rejoin Plaid Cymru. In February 2020 he announced that he was forming a new political party, the Welsh National Party, and that he had registered the name with the Electoral Commission. The launch of the party was planned for April 2020.
On 6 May, following the threat of legal action from Plaid Cymru over the new party's name, the Electoral Commission removed the name "Welsh National" Party from the register of political parties, and ruled that a second application to register a name would have to be made. In response, McEvoy described the decision as representing "a shameful day for democracy" and said that the party was seeking 'urgent legal advice' as well as a statement from the Speaker’s Committee, who oversee the Electoral Commission.
In November 2011 in a Facebook post, McEvoy accused the charity Welsh Women's Aid of "publicly funded child abuse" and claimed they supported women in breaking court orders on fathers' access to children. He was subsequently suspended by Plaid Cymru, and after investigation was allowed to return. McEvoy apologised for the words he used, but did not withdraw the allegations.
In Council elections in May 2011, Welsh Labour ward opponent Michael Michael distributed leaflets of Only Fools and Horses character Del Boy with McEvoy's face imposed on them. McEvoy subsequently sued Michael for libel, but withdrew the case in December 2015. In January 2016, McEvoy agreed to the courts wishes to pay Michael £120,000 in legal costs. The sum represented a quarter of the cost of the preliminary issues, and all costs after April 2013. McEvoy paid an initial sum of £50,000, and agreed a payment plan with Michael and his lawyers, which included Michael having a legal charge imposed on McEvoy's home.
In 2012, while a councillor, he presented a petition in the Welsh language, resulting in an argument with representatives of other parties. Despite protests, Councillor McEvoy declined to speak in English at the council meeting.
After being elected to the Senedd in May 2016, McEvoy kept his position as a councillor on Cardiff Council, receiving the councillor's basic allowance of £13,300 in addition to the Senedd salary of £64,000. His Labour Party opponents described this as hypocrisy, saying that he had previously said it was wrong for people in public office to be a councillor and to work in another job.
In March 2017 a Cardiff Council tribunal found a comment that McEvoy made to a council officer after a tenant's eviction hearing in 2015 amounted to "bullying behaviour". The Adjudication Panel for Wales ruled he broke Cardiff council's code of conduct but did not bring the council into disrepute. After the hearing, Mr McEvoy described the panel proceedings as a "farce", but Plaid chairman Alun Ffred Jones said the matter was "serious because it involves bullying". McEvoy was subsequently suspended from the Plaid Cymru Senedd group on 7 March 2017 and reinstated two weeks later. A Plaid Cymru disciplinary panel was to consider the complaints later in the Autumn.
In September 2017, McEvoy was suspended again, after a unanimous decision by Plaid's Assembly group, following accusations that he had undermined Plaid Cymru's policy on council housing. In December 2018 McEvoy was referred to the Assembly Standards Commissioner after he was accused by his former office manager, Michael Deem, of misusing Assembly funds for printing leaflets and recruiting staff for party political, rather than Assembly work. Deem refused to comment on media reports, and McEvoy responded by stating that he "will continue to ask the difficult questions that some people don't want asked".
In January 2018 he was expelled from the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Assembly, with a spokesperson stating that "his ongoing behaviour has left Assembly Member colleagues feeling undermined and demoralised". He currently sits as an independent.
McEvoy posted to Twitter in March 2018, and later deleted, a response to an earlier post about former Plaid leader and AM Leanne Wood with an image of himself and Dafydd Elis-Thomas wearing boxing gloves outside the Senedd. The tweet was captioned "we're ready for her", and was deleted after AMs including Plaid minister Bethan Sayed said the tweet was "absolutely not funny". Matthew Ford, a senior advisor to McEvoy, later came forward to state he had posted the image without McEvoy's prior knowledge, to promote a "cross-party boxing event with the minister for sport".
In July 2019, McEvoy was again investigated, this time for accusations that he had bullied a care home worker. McEvoy had contended that the case involved a child who had suffered "the worst case I've come across in 30 years". The investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales came during McEvoy's request in June to be re-admitted to the party, following over a year out of the party. The Plaid Membership, Discipline and Standards Committee was described as "evenly split" during deliberations into the case. However shortly after, the committee's panel saw "two instances of unauthorised disclosure" of information which stated the panel had failed to reach a decision. The news leak led to the party deciding to disband the panel and form a new panel with new members.
As a result, McEvoy withdrew his application to re-join Plaid Cymru, and in a letter accused two members of the Membership, Discipline and Standards Committee panel of holding "prejudiced views about" him, as well as complaining of "malicious" leaks intended to bring down "a non-compliant panel". Plaid AM Helen Mary Jones however stated that the process was fair, and that the issue had consumed too much of "our time and our resources". She has indicated the Party would likely contact McEvoy through its solicitors regarding his claims. McEvoy is believed to have withdrawn his application due to party rules which state that if his application had been rejected in 2019, he would have been unable to reapply for a further five years.
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