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Alun Michael

 

Born                      22 August 1943

Constituency  Cardiff South and Penarth (Westminster) / Mid Wales (Welsh Assembly)

Party                     Labour

Majority               12,287 in the 2001 Westminster General Elections

Alun Michael was appointed as Welsh Secretary following Ron Davies' dramatic resignation in 1998. He worked as a Journalist on the South Wales Echo1966-72 and a youth and community worker 1971-87. He was appointed a JP in 1972 and chaired the Cardiff Juvenile bench.

He first joined the Labour Party in 1968 and was elected a Councillor on Cardiff City council in 1973 serving until 1989. He won Jim Callaghan's old seat Cardiff South and Penarth in the 1987 General Election and was appointed as a Opposition whip 1987-88 and then Welsh affairs spokesman 1988-92 by Neil Kinnock . Under John Smith he became Home affairs spokesman in 1992 working under the then Shadow Home Secretary Tony Blair. He was appointed a Home Office minister following the election of the Labour Government in 1997.

Close to Tony Blair, he was seen as a safe pair of hands to oversee the setting up of the Assembly and as a candidate capable of stopping Rhodri Morgan winning a leadership election for the now vacant post of candidate for the First Minister role. Alun Michael was stung by allegations that he was Blair's man parachuted into Wales and later said "There was no truth in it at all. I was born and brought up in Wales, coming down to Cardiff as a young journalist and choosing to re-learn Welsh. All of my political career is established as Welsh."

Opponents claimed he had no interest in the Assembly as he hadn't been selected to fight a seat prior to his appointment as Secretary of State and was placed on the top of the Mid Wales regional list for Labour. He was elected as Labour's Candidate for First Minister beating Rhodri Morgan after securing the Union block votes and was elected a regional Member of the Assembly in the 1999 elections.

The row over his appointment and subsequent election was cited as one reason as to why Labour was unable to form a majority Government following the Assembly elections despite winning most of the seats at the 1997 General Election..

Controversy dogged his first year in office facing a no-confidence motion for his handling of his Agriculture Minister, Christine Gwyther's resignation and then culminating in a second vote of no confidence in 2000 over the issue of Objective One status for Wales which would have secured over 1m of European funding for the country.

In one of the most dramatic debates in the Assembly's brief history Michael resigned during his speech on the motion; ironically without informing Tony Blair who was taken off guard by William Hague announcing the news during a House of Commons' debate.

Michael left the Welsh Assembly on 1 May 2000 and following the 2001 General Election he was appointed as a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Alun Michael later defended his time as First Minister saying "the important things for me were seeing changes and benefits for them in jobs, education, services. That was important, rather than setting out to be an entertainer."

 

 

Last updated:

Copyright 2006 | Jason Thomas Williams