Gillan - The worst Secretary of State for Wales that we have ever had?

On a post about the organ donation controversy Welsh Ramblings makes an interesting comment about whether The Westminster government neglects Wales as a systemic characteristic, and that passive neglect or misunderstanding- rather than outright nastiness- constitutes the existence of an anti-Welsh set up. On the whole I would suggest that passive neglect of Welsh issues is the reality; but this passive neglect gives a tremendous amount of power to the person(s) responsible for Welsh policy. When Wales is passively ignored the personality of the Secretary of State for Wales is immensely important to the governance of Wales.

All Labour SoS for Wales have been members for Welsh constituencies, those who have been comfortable about their Welsh identity – Jim Griffiths, Cledwyn Hughes and Ron Davies have done well for Wales. Those who have been ambivalent about their Welsh identity – George Thomas, Paul Murphey, Alun Michael and the only non-Welsh Labour MP to have the job Peter Hain have tended to use it to promote the Labour Party in Wales rather than to benefit Wales as a country.

The Conservatives, however, have been different. The Conservatives have treated the job of Secretary of State for Wales as a bit of a bum job, a spare part that allows somebody to be in cabinet without a really important contribution to make. Nick Edwards is the only Welsh Conservative Constituency MP to be SoS Wales, since the job was created in 1964. (Prior to 1964 we had a Minister for Welsh Affairs from 1951 – all Conservative and none representing a Welsh constituency).

Peter Thomas was a true Welsh MP in exile. Nick Edwards, for all his faults, had the interests of Wales at heart. David Hunt, Peter Walker, John Redwood and William Hague couldn't give a fiddler's fart about Wales but by leaving the actual running of Wales in the hands of Sir Wyn Roberts did Wales a favour, because Wales had a passionate Welsh man at the helm.

Cheryll Gillan, however, is a different beast altogether – she has a false assumption that because she lived in Wales until she was ten years old, that because she is a member of the parliamentary choir (singing is a Welsh trait you know!) and because she went to some rather exclusive nursery schools in Cardiff that she is actually Welsh and knows what is best for Wales.

She is, of course, mistaken – she hasn't got a clue about Wales and Welsh life but rules Wales as if she is an expert on Wales, which makes her – not one who shows outright nastiness or passive neglect - just one who is completely ignorant about Wales and its needs and one who is completely out of her depth - and therefore the worst Secretary of State for Wales that we have ever had.


  1. Totally agree, we have had some disasters, Labour and Tory (The vulcan) as Welsh Secretary, but Cheryll Gillan is the biggest offence to Wales of them all. She cannot even remember what laws she herself introduced and back in May did not even know that Rhodri Morgan was no longer the first minister.

  2. To be fair Walker and Hunt ran Wales on One Nation Tory Lines, and to a lesser extent Hague. I'd have said they were better SoS than George Thomas myself...

    But Gillian seems, how can I put this, lightweight?

  3. interesting thoughts MOF

    Cheryl Gillan may be worse than useless, but a useless Tory Secretary of State for Wales means only one thing, a big boost for Labour and endless unchallenged whinging from them about the state of 'their' communities swallowed whole by most of the Welsh electorate at election time.

    Until other parties can convert the Conservative indifference and ignorance in to potent arguments and votes nothing will change.

  4. Clark's Law: "Sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice."