Mark drakeford

Drakeford adds to Labour’s trans troubles

It’s not just in Westminster that Labour is having difficulties with transgender issues. Over in Wales, Mark Drakeford’s barmy army has been wrestling with the same debate, amid claims from Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi that LGBT charity Stonewall has ‘dictated policy’ to her colleagues at Cardiff Bay. And the Welsh Tories have clearly spotted an opportunity here for some clear blue water between the two parties. For last Tuesday, Tory Laura Anne Jones popped up in the Senedd to lob a grenade at Drakeford at First Ministers’ Questions. The blonde bombshell probed her opponent about just how the Welsh government intends to protect women’s rights in sports as ‘we have a

Mark Drakeford’s mission to create a Welsh super state

Few appreciate how mischievous Welsh devolutionists are when it comes to embedding themselves in the national consciousness. Take the Welsh translation for ‘first minister’, prif weinidog, which means ‘prime minister’. What was once a linguistic trick has now become an informal touch point in Wales. Regardless of his title, Mark Drakeford behaves, looks and sounds like a powerful national leader rather than a devolved minister. Few politicians exude such confidence but it should be no surprise: in the last year, Drakeford guided Welsh Labour to two triumphant victories in national and, more recently, local elections. He lectures the British Prime Minister on the future of the Union and then calls

Devolution doesn’t work in a crisis

One of the worst features of devolution is the tendency of devocrats to insist on doing their own thing in all circumstances and at whatever cost. The idea that decentralisation would lead to experimentation and the sharing of best practice now seems hopelessly naive. Instead, politicians in Edinburgh and Cardiff try to use nationalism to earth criticism, treating an attack on their records as an insult to the Scottish or Welsh people. Perhaps the most abject example was when a Welsh minister accused Michael Gove of harbouring ‘colonial attitudes’ when the then-education secretary penned an article comparing English and Welsh school outcomes. Even the evidence base that might have supported

It’s time to upgrade the office of the Welsh first minister

Some of the most revealing detail from newly released 1997 government files relate to Welsh constitutional affairs. The Home Office advised against the Queen opening the new Welsh Assembly, for instance, judging the institution to be ‘wholly subordinate’ to Westminster even before the people of Wales had voted for it. Tony Blair and John Prescott even thought the leader of the Assembly should be known as ‘Chief Executive’, unlike the ‘First Minister’ title bestowed in Scotland. It has taken more than two decades, but attitudes to Welsh politics have finally changed, from both the public and politicians in Wales and Westminster. The Assembly-cum-Parliament now has primary law-making powers; our national

King of Fortress Wales: an interview with Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford sits opposite me in a small conference room on the third floor of Cathays Park, the nucleus of Welsh government operations during Covid-19. The First Minister of Wales is in bullish mood. Last month, he almost single-handedly delivered a thumping election victory for Labour in Wales – securing 30 seats in the Senedd and extending Labour’s 22-year-grip over the devolved parliament. The party in Wales enjoys starkly different electoral fortunes to its comrades across the border, with Drakeford now Labour’s only leader with experience winning national elections across the UK. I meet him a few hours after the first devolved Covid summit, where he and other devolved leaders

Beware Welsh Labour’s Trojan dragon

After polls that suggested a radical shake-up at Cardiff Bay, in the end it turned out to be a strong result for the status quo in Wales. The Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford enjoyed a vaccine bounce — thanks to procurement decisions in Whitehall — and can now govern on his own should he wish to. But the fact that Labour won’t need a formal arrangement with Plaid Cymru to govern (as it did between 2007 and 2011) should not blind people to the fact that the Welsh leader already leads an increasingly nationalist party. Welsh Labour actually ran pro-independence candidates in these elections Drakeford himself has said that the

Welsh Labour proves again it’s a distinctive, winning brand

After the news of a Tory landslide in Hartlepool was announced early Friday morning, senior Welsh Labour figures were worried. The scale of defeat in the North of England was worse than expected, and represented nothing short of a disaster for Keir Starmer’s leadership. Could the same fate be expected for Labour’s Red Wall in North and South Wales, which started to crack in the 2019 general election? The answer, in short, is no. Welsh Labour stormed to a breathtaking victory in the Senedd election, gaining a seat from its 2016 hall to win thirty of the sixty places in Cardiff Bay. There was a Tory whimper but no bang:

Wales’s election is finally heating up

You could be forgiven for forgetting that there is an election happening in Wales. The looming possibility of an SNP majority in Scotland, violence on the streets of Belfast and the death of the Duke of Edinburgh have led to a somewhat lulled campaign in recent weeks. Thankfully, last night’s ITV Wales television debate got things going, to a point. First Minister Mark Drakeford was at the crease to defend his government’s performance throughout the pandemic, as well as Welsh Labour’s record over 22 years in Cardiff Bay. Snapping at his heels was Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, and Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price, regarded generally as the most

Welsh Labour’s Red Wall is crumbling

For a long time, Lord Mandelson’s famous quip that the people of south Wales ‘will always vote Labour because they have nowhere else to go’ rang true. The party dethroned the Liberals in 1922 to become Wales’s voice at Westminster and have won every general election since. In more recent times the onset of devolution presented a new opportunity for Labour to dominate in a new seat of power in Cardiff Bay. They have done just that: the party has been in government in Wales without serious challenge for over two decades. The coronavirus crisis has been a relatively successful period for Welsh Labour too. First Minister Mark Drakeford has

Mark Drakeford’s men-only curfew would break international law

Politicians, including Baroness Jones of the Green Party and Mark Drakeford, who is the Labour leader in Wales, have spoken of the possibility of a 6pm curfew for men. That looks to be a breach of international law and so is something often referred to as illegal. A curfew is a punishment. A curfew directed at any of us on the basis of gender/sex (or any characteristic protected from discrimination) is a collective punishment of those who have that characteristic. Or as Oxford Public International Law terms it: ‘A collective punishment is a form of sanction imposed on persons or a group of persons in response to a crime committed

Quentin Letts: The unstoppable rise of June Sarpong

Eton’s free-speech rumpus must surely become a David Hare play, Goodbye Mr Had-Yer-Chips, starring Jeremy Irons as the headmaster and Maxine Peake as the staff member who sneaks on the English beak teaching non-feminist critical thought. Like most attempts at suppression, Eton’s will be counter-productive. Teenage boys adore political martyrdom. Eton’s top man, Simon Henderson, looks a very poor version of John Rae but he may have done us a favour by turning a generation of Etonians into tingling sceptics of wokery. In this season for miracles, the rise of June Sarpong continues: she has been made a trustee of the Donmar Warehouse, that London theatre attended by City snoots

Mark Drakeford still has the support of Welsh voters

In the current circumstances it is strange to recall that, until very recently, a common complaint of devolved politicians in Wales – as well as academics studying devolved politics – was a lack of media attention and profile. The ill-wind of Covid-19 has blown few people much good, but has unquestionably done a lot to raise awareness of some of the realities of devolved government. There has been plenty of evidence in the past that many people in Wales were unaware that even health – on which the Welsh Government spends the majority of its budget – was devolved. Meanwhile, for his first year in the job Welsh First Minister

Mark Drakeford has made Wales a laughing stock

Imagine a country where you’re allowed to buy vodka and cigarettes but not baby clothes, because they are ‘non-essential’. A place where supermarkets can sell you socks but, mysteriously, neither tights nor lightbulbs. All right, you may plunge to your death down a dimly lit staircase in Pontarddulais, but at least you didn’t get that terrible Covid. Often the butt of ignorant jokes, my homeland Wales is now quite rightly a laughing stock. Supermarkets have been allowed to remain open during the 17-day ‘firebreak’ — or Llockdown as it could more honestly be described. But Welsh Labour, led by First Minister Mark Drakeford, has banned them from selling household goods,