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Mark Drakeford
Mark Drakeford (cropped).jpg
First Minister of Wales
Assumed office
13 December 2018
Monarch Elizabeth II
Charles III
Preceded by Carwyn Jones
Leader of Welsh Labour
Assumed office
6 December 2018
Deputy Carolyn Harris
UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Preceded by Carwyn Jones
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
In office
19 May 2016 – 13 December 2018
First Minister Carwyn Jones
Preceded by Jane Hutt
Succeeded by Rebecca Evans
Minister for Brexit
In office
3 November 2017 – 13 December 2018
First Minister Carwyn Jones
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Jeremy Miles
Minister for Health and Social Services
In office
14 March 2013 – 19 May 2016
First Minister Carwyn Jones
Deputy Vaughan Gething
Preceded by Lesley Griffiths
Succeeded by Vaughan Gething
Member of the Senedd
for Cardiff West
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded by Rhodri Morgan
Majority 11,211 (30.7%)
Personal details
Born (1954-09-19) 19 September 1954 (age 68)
Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Nationality Welsh
Political party Labour
Clare Buckle
(m. 1977)
Children 3
Alma mater University of Kent
University of Exeter
Cabinet Second Drakeford government

Mark Drakeford (born 19 September 1954) is a Welsh politician serving as First Minister of Wales and Leader of Welsh Labour since 2018. He previously served in the Welsh Government as Cabinet Secretary for Finance from 2016 to 2018 and Minister for Health and Social Services from 2013 to 2016. Drakeford was first elected as the Member of the Senedd (MS) for Cardiff West in 2011.

Drakeford was born in Carmarthen in West Wales. He studied Latin at the University of Kent and the University of Exeter. He was a lecturer at the University College of Swansea from 1991 to 1995 and at the Cardiff University from 1995 to 1999. He was a Professor of Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences at Cardiff University from 2003 to 2013.

Drakeford was elected at the 2011 National Assembly for Wales election for Cardiff West. In 2013, First Minister Carwyn Jones appointed Drakeford to the Welsh Government as Minister for Health and Social Services. He served as Cabinet Secretary for Finance from 2016 and 2018 and as Minister for Brexit from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, he was elected to succeed Jones as Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister. He has led the Welsh Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2021 Senedd election, Drakeford led Welsh Labour to win 30 seats, a working majority, and was reappointed as First Minister.

Drakeford is widely considered to belong to the left-wing of the Labour Party, and is supported by some members of Welsh Labour Grassroots and Momentum. He was the only sitting Cabinet member in any part of the UK to support Jeremy Corbyn in his bid for the national leadership of the Labour Party in 2015, while he was Minister for Health and Social Services.

Early life and education

Mark Drakeford was born and brought up in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, then an all-boys grammar school in Carmarthen. He studied Latin at the University of Kent, and graduated from the University of Exeter.

After university, he trained both as a teacher and as a social worker. He moved to Cardiff in 1979 and worked as a probation officer and a youth justice worker, including as a Barnardo's project leader in the Ely and Caerau communities. His experiences working with young people in deprived areas inspired him to help establish the Welsh youth homelessness charity Llamau in the late 1980s.

Academic career

From 1991 to 1995, Drakeford was a lecturer in applied social studies at the University College of Swansea (now Swansea University). He then moved to the University of Wales, Cardiff, renamed as Cardiff University in 1999, as a lecturer in its School of Social and Administrative Studies. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1999 and appointed as Professor of Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences in 2003. Drakeford continued in his academic posts until his appointment as a Welsh Government minister in 2013. He has published books and journal articles on various aspects of social policy.

First Minister

Mark Drakeford (2016).png
Premiership of Mark Drakeford
13 December 2018 – present
Premier Mark Drakeford
Cabinet First Drakeford government
Second Drakeford government
Party Welsh Labour
Election 2021
Appointer Elizabeth II
Seat Tŷ Hywel
Carwyn Jones

Mark Drakeford was nominated by AMs as First Minister designate on 12 December and his nomination was approved by the Queen. He named his government the following day. He was appointed as a Privy Counsellor on 10 January 2019.

COVID-19 pandemic

As First Minister, Drakeford has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales. Many aspects of handling COVID-19 were the responsibility of the Welsh Government, including the setting of restrictions on everyday life designed to curtail the virus. According to research conducted by University College London for its COVID-19 Social Study, Drakeford's leadership led to better understanding of the rules in Wales than Boris Johnson's did in England.

On 23 March 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having the agreement of all devolved governments, announced a lockdown of the United Kingdom, with only essential services remaining open. This announcement was followed by First Minister Drakeford announcing that the measures would also cover Wales and would come into effect from that evening. The measures put in place restrict people from leaving their home for non-essential travel, with outside exercise limited to once a day. The measures that controlled exercise outside the home differed from those in England, where the measures in place did not stipulate a once-a-day restriction, whereas the Welsh version specifically limited exercise outside the home to once a day, with the maximum fine being £120, compared to £960 in England. On 20 May, the Government announced that the maximum fine would be increased to £1,920.

On 25 March the Coronavirus Act 2020 was given Royal Assent, after passing through both Houses in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The following day the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 were approved by the Senedd, giving the Welsh Government emergency powers to deal with various aspects of managing the pandemic.

Though Drakeford was supportive of a cooperative approach between the various governments of the UK, his government also at times took significantly different decisions such as introducing a two-week "firebreak" lockdown in Wales during October 2020 at a point when the UK government was still operating a system of localised restrictions in England.

2021 Senedd Election

In the 2021 Senedd election, Labour ran on a manifesto which included various schemes to improve health and social care provision such as investing in mental health services, a new medical school in North Wales and an eventual move towards free-at-point-of-use social care ideally as part of a UK-wide reform. In education, promised policies included tutoring staff to help pupils catch-up after the pandemic, funding to improve school facilities, increasing eligibility for free school meals to an unspecified number of children, expanding access to Welsh-medium education and potential reform to the school routine. Other plans included more reforestation, more social housing and possible electoral reform for Senedd elections.

2021 Senedd Election
Graphical depiction of the 2021 Senedd Election results

Labour equalled its best ever result, falling one seat short of an overall majority, which has never been achieved in the institution. The BBC reporter Adrian Browne credited the outcome to Mark Drakeford and approval of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales. Pollster Ben Walker wrote in a piece for the New Statesman that one of the factors which had contributed to Labour's success at the election was that Drakeford had developed a greater profile among the public in Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic and was perceived as competent and the best potential First Minister. Various commentators suggested that Welsh Labour's success at the election was part of a wider trend in the round of elections which took place across Britain at the same time of incumbents being rewarded and that there were also more Longterm factors which placed Labour in a better position to succeed in Wales than elsewhere.

In November 2021, Drakeford and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price reached a co-operation agreement on policy in a wide range of areas. Ideas they planned to implement included free-at-the-point-of-use social care, expanding services for children and restrictions on second homes. The deal was the third time Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru had agreed to work together in the era of devolution.

Personal life

Drakeford married his wife Clare (née Buckle) in Cambridge in 1977. They have three children.

Selected works

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