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Alun Michael
Alun Michael election infobox.jpeg
Michael in 2009
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner
Assumed office
22 November 2012
Deputy Sophie Howe
Emma Wools
Preceded by Office established
Minister of State for Industry and the Regions
In office
10 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Jacqui Smith
Succeeded by Ian McCartney
Minister of State for Rural Affairs
In office
11 June 2001 – 10 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Nick Raynsford
Succeeded by Jim Knight
First Secretary of Wales
In office
12 May 1999 – 9 February 2000
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Rhodri Morgan
Leader of Welsh Labour
In office
29 October 1998 – 9 February 2000
UK party leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Ron Davies
Succeeded by Rhodri Morgan
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
27 October 1998 – 28 July 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ron Davies
Succeeded by Paul Murphy
Minister of State for Home Affairs
In office
6 May 1997 – 27 October 1998
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by David Maclean
Succeeded by Paul Boateng
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for Mid and West Wales
In office
6 May 1999 – 1 May 2000
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Delyth Evans
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff South and Penarth
In office
11 June 1987 – 22 October 2012
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by Stephen Doughty
Personal details
Born (1943-08-22) 22 August 1943 (age 80)
Bryngwran, Anglesey, Wales
Political party Welsh Labour (Labour and Co-operative)
Spouse Mary Sophia Crawley
Children 5
Parents Betty Michael
Leslie Michael
Alma mater Keele University
Cabinet Michael government
Website Official website:

Alun Edward Michael JP (born 22 August 1943) is a Welsh Labour and Co-operative politician serving as South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner since 2012. He served as Secretary of State for Wales from 1998 to 1999 and then as the first First Secretary of Wales (later known as First Minister) and Leader of Welsh Labour from 1999 to 2000.

Born on the island of Anglesey, Michael attended Colwyn Bay Grammar School and graduated from the University of Keele in 1966 with a degree in Philosophy and English. He worked as a reporter for the South Wales Echo until 1971 and then as a youth and community worker until 1987. He became a Justice of the Peace in 1972 and served on the Cardiff City Council from 1973 to 1989. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1987, succeeding former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan for the constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth.

In opposition, he was a Shadow Home Affairs Minister and then when Labour came to power in 1997 he served as a Minister of State for Home Affairs until 1998. In October of that year, Ron Davies resigned as Secretary of State for Wales following a personal controversy and Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Michael to succeed him. In May 1999, following the first elections to the National Assembly for Wales, Michael defeated Rhodri Morgan to become the Leader of Welsh Labour and thus the First Secretary of Wales. The position was later renamed First Minister of Wales under the tenure of his successor.

Michael resigned as Leader of Welsh Labour and First Secretary nine months later to avoid a vote of no confidence. He resigned from the Welsh Assembly shortly after and served in various junior ministerial positions in the Labour government at Westminster. He resigned from the House of Commons in October 2012 to stand for the newly created position of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, to which he was elected in November 2012 and again in 2016 and 2021.

Background and family life

Michael was born at Bryngwran, Anglesey, the son of Leslie and Betty Michael. He attended Colwyn Bay Grammar School and studied at Keele University for four years from 1962 to 1966 obtaining a BA degree in Philosophy and English.

Professional career

He was a reporter for the South Wales Echo, a Cardiff-based evening newspaper, where he was a contemporary of Michael Buerk (later to become a distinguished BBC correspondent) and of Sue Lawley (later to become presenter of the BBC magazine programme Nationwide). In his autobiography Michael Buerk wrote "Alun Michael with his ginger toothbrush-moustache and battered corduroy jacket, was a rather Pooterish character for the Sixties. He did not stay in journalism, which was no surprise, but went into politics, which certainly was". Michael in fact left journalism in 1971 and spent 16 years until 1987 as a "youth and community worker" before entering Parliament. In 1972 he was appointed a justice of the peace, chairing the Cardiff Juvenile Bench.

Political career

Michael was a member of Cardiff City Council for the Rumney ward, subsequently the Trowbridge ward from 1973 until 1989.

He became an MP at the 1987 general election, inheriting a safe Labour seat from former prime minister James Callaghan. Michael retained this seat in 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010 although with declining majorities at each election from 1997 onwards.

Home Office

Michael was a Shadow Home Affairs Minister while in opposition, prior to becoming a Minister of State in the Home Office (he likes to describe himself as having been "Deputy Home Secretary") following Labour's landslide victory in the 1997 general election. His rhetoric when coming to office differed from the eventual delivery. ..... Several frightening cases in recent months have hammered it home that we must act." ..... Michael defended his decision not to introduce "Sarah's Law" saying, "These are extremely difficult issues and people are understandably very upset, but there is a danger of serious mistakes being made and this has been shown on a number occasions.".

Michael was however responsible for steering the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 through the House of Commons. Amongst other things, this Act introduced ASBOs or Anti-social Behaviour Orders and statutory crime reduction partnerships. He was also responsible for the Government policy on the voluntary and community sector, and introduced the "compact" process to achieve partnership between Government and that sector. Michael later became a member of the Justice Select Committee from November 2007 to May 2010. While on the committee he took part in enquiries into restorative justice, devolution ten years on, the role of the prison officer, and the work of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Wales career

In May 1997 Ron Davies was appointed by Tony Blair to the cabinet position of Secretary of State for Wales and then, in September 1998, narrowly defeated Rhodri Morgan in an internal contest for the Labour leadership in Wales. The first election for the National Assembly of Wales was due to be held in May 1999. Should Labour form a government, the Welsh Labour leader would then become what was to be called "First Secretary" – potentially giving Ron Davies a role in both the UK and Welsh legislatures.

However, on 27 October 1998, Ron Davies abruptly resigned as Secretary of State for Wales after adverse publicity about his personal life. Tony Blair overlooked Rhodri Morgan (then MP for Cardiff West) and controversially appointed Alun Michael as the new Secretary of State for Wales.

Two days later, on 29 October 1998, Ron Davies also resigned the Labour Leadership in Wales, thus relinquishing his ambition to become First Secretary and initiating another leadership contest. Blair again overlooked Morgan and opted to back Alun Michael as putative First Secretary. According to Neath MP Peter Hain "Rhodri was the party’s favourite and feelings ran very high" but nevertheless, in a volte-face, Hain agreed to run the campaign for Michael who he described as "the establishment candidate". Although Morgan had the overwhelming support of individual Labour Party members, Alun Michael, backed by Blair and by the trade unions, duly won. This episode led to Michael being described as a "famously tetchy Millbank-backed candidate". The affair was described by Peter Kellner as "another fix" in order "to ensure Alun Michael became Labour's leader in Wales" which Kellner said "offended so many voters that it lost some of its safest seats, including Rhondda, to Plaid Cymru". Tony Blair's favourable treatment of Michael was later described by Kellner as a "determination to foist Alun Michael on the people of Wales", which "produced a spectacular collapse of support". Michael stressed his Welsh credentials, as someone who had grown up in North Wales, lived for 30 years in South Wales and was a speaker of Welsh. He had approached Blair at a very early stage to suggest he stood for the Welsh Assembly elections.

The first Assembly election resulted in the Welsh Labour Party winning less than half of the available seats. In the first plenary on 12 May 1999 Michael was elected First Secretary.

Premiership of Alun Michael
12 May 1999 – 9 February 2000
Premier Alun Michael
Cabinet Michael government
Party Welsh Labour Party
Election 1999
Appointer Elizabeth II
Seat Tŷ Hywel

Rather than form a coalition, Michael took the unconventional route of forming a minority government, believing that this offered the potential for a more collaborative and democratic approach to the work of the Assembly.

However, this was to lead to the very outcome Tony Blair had wanted to prevent, the election of Rhodri Morgan as leader of the Welsh Assembly. On 9 February 2000, after less than nine months in office, Michael resigned in an attempt to avoid a vote of "no confidence" over the availability of Objective 1 funding from the European Union. Blair was in the House of Commons taking Prime Minister's Questions when Michael resigned; his PPS had not been notified of this yet, and moments later Conservative leader William Hague asked: “Will the Prime Minister comment on the fact that within moments of his expressing full confidence in the First Secretary in Wales five or 10 minutes ago, news came through to the House that the First Secretary had resigned, before the vote of confidence had taken place?“ This led to an exchange that proved humiliating for Blair as he had not been given any notice of Michael's impending resignation. In his resignation Michael also expressed a desire to avoid a debacle resulting from his inevitable re-appointment (and potential repeated removal, ad infinitum) arising from an inconsistency in the Assembly's brand-new rules.

Michael sat on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee from November 2007 to May 2010 and resigned as an MP on 22 October 2012.

Environment career

In 2001, he was appointed Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality, a post within DEFRA. He was the minister most closely connected with a ban on hunting with dogs, for which he attracted much criticism from hunt supporters. Michael was criticised for citing the research of Sir Patrick Bateson as "incontrovertible proof" of the need for a total ban. Sir Patrick said, "Only somebody who was scientifically illiterate could argue that evidence from a new area of research was 'incontrovertible'" but Michael claimed that Bateson had misunderstood the way his work had been cited.

Hunting Act

In 2004, he presided over the enactment of the Hunting Act which banned hare coursing, beagling, fox hunting, mink and stag hunting in the UK from February 2005. At the time this law was being debated, and immediately after it was passed, Michael maintained his visits to rural areas despite threats and protest, but withdrew from the event to launch the "Right to Roam" stating that access to the countryside was too important to be interrupted by pro-hunt protestors whose plans could put the public at risk. Michael maintained that hunting was a "peripheral issue" citing social and economic issues in rural areas as "the day job". In 2004, he formally approved the order designating the New Forest as a National Park.

Trade and Business

In 2005 Michael was moved to a ministerial post in the Department of Trade and Industry as Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, where he served only one year before he was returned to the backbenches in the Cabinet reshuffle of May 2006.

In 2005 the Freedom of Information Act came into force allowing members of the public to request disclosure of information from public bodies. On 18 May 2007 Alun Michael was among the majority of MPs who voted in favour of exempting MPs from having to disclose information under the act.

Votes for 14-year-olds

In his newspaper column in the Penarth Times of 10 May 2010, Michael proposed giving the vote to 14-year-olds as a way of improving turn-out at UK elections. He said: "My first suggestion is to reduce the voting age to 14 – an age which I find young people far better informed and sensibly engaged than was the case in the past – so that everybody takes place in the voting process once before leaving full-time education. They will then know how to vote when they come to engage with political issues later in life". This was going much further than official Labour Party policy. Labour's 2010 Manifesto only promised a free vote in Parliament on reducing the voting age to 16.

See also

  • List of Welsh AMs/MSs with the shortest service
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