Friday, 10 August 2018

Alun Davies challenges for "Welsh" Labour leadership.

Local Government Secretary Alun Davies is set to throw his hat into the ring for the Welsh Labour leadership later.
The Blaenau Gwent AM is expected to announce his intention to stand in the contest to succeed Carwyn Jones with a speech in Tredegar on Friday.
Mr Davies will be the fifth contender to come forward.
Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford is the front-runner, with Vaughan Gething, Eluned Morgan and Huw Irranca-Davies hoping to secure enough nominations.
So far, Mr Drakeford is the only contender with the backing of enough Labour AMs to stand in the contest.
He has 13 declared supporters, while Vaughan Gething is one short of the five names needed.
Neither Eluned Morgan nor Huw Irranca-Davies have any declared supporters.
So will Mr Davies find any?
Davies was born in Tredegar and went to Tredegar Comprehensive School followed by the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth where he read Politics. He was involved in student politics then being a member of Plaid Cymru  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.
Davies worked as public and corporate affairs manager for Hyder which combined Wales' main utilities; he 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.

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 he Cynon ValleyAfter 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.

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" and has chaired the Broadcasting committee 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.
It would certainly  irk Plaid Cymru to see one of thier former "Golden Boys" become a Labour first Minister.

Or would it?
Davies has been involved in a number of incidents.

In 2005, when he was the Labour Candidate in 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.
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. 
In 2013 he was criticised by the cross-party Environment and Sustainability Committee for being evasive during a question session and giving contradictory answers:[5]"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 that as a result both had left their long term partners as a result. McMorrin was moved from her role.
On 10 June 2014, the First Minister announced an investigation into a letter Davies wrote to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) re 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 re the race tracks development.[7] 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.[8] 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.[8] 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. Davies faced no punishment by the First Minister, but endured sustained calls for him to resign due to his behaviour.
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 Sandbac
(Conservative); Kirsty Williams (Leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats); William Powell (Welsh Liberal Democrats); and Llyr Gruffydd (Plaid Cymru).
Labour  AM's may well consider the hige swing to Plaid Cymru at the last Assembly Elections that nearly cost him his seat before mominaying.
Welsh Assembly Election 2016: Blaenau Gwent[1]
LabourAlun Davies8,44239.7−24.3
Plaid CymruNigel Copner7,79236.6+31.2
UKIPKevin Boucher3,42316.1+16.1
ConservativeTracey West1,3346.3+1
Liberal DemocratsBrendan D'Cruz3001.4−0.4
Labour holdSwing−28.0

There is no doubt that Mr Davies can attract  support in some quarters , but he can equally alienate others.

I first met him during the Gowers by-election of 1982 when he was a young    Plaid canvasser  and   (I thought) a rather callow youth and about to go to Aberystwyth.

Four yeas later as a mature student I met him again when I found him a cynical and manipulative student politician.

Indeed he is partly to blame for me leaving party politics and a certain distrust  of Politicians.

Does he think that he can gather the right number of nominations  or is he putting a marker down for a future challenge .

Or is it part of his own ego and the fact that he has never shaken of his student politics past which sees him combating for approval from his peers.   

Who know? 


  1. You seem better qualified than most to comment on alun Davies glyn - do you know why he left plaid? I remember being surprised when he popped up as a labour candidate a few years ago because he used to be scathing of welsh labour when he was in plaid.

  2. No but I suspected he saw it a career move rather than an ideological one.

  3. At Aber he was very critical of Michael Foot over the closure of Ebbw Vale steel works. Also he was mates with Carwyn Jones who was Chair of the Labour Club where I was Vice Chair. But to be honest we were more interested in opposing a Militant take over led by Toby Bourke and Dave Richards.