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Mark Drakeford
Drakeford in 2017
First Minister of Wales
Assumed office
13 December 2018
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byCarwyn Jones
Leader of Welsh Labour
Assumed office
6 December 2018
DeputyCarolyn Harris
UK party leaderJeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer
Preceded byCarwyn Jones
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
In office
19 May 2016 – 13 December 2018
First MinisterCarwyn Jones
Preceded byJane Hutt
Succeeded byRebecca Evans
Brexit Minister
In office
3 November 2017 – 13 December 2018
First MinisterCarwyn Jones
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJeremy Miles
Minister for Health and Social Services
In office
14 March 2013 – 19 May 2016
First MinisterCarwyn Jones
DeputyVaughan Gething
Preceded byLesley Griffiths
Succeeded byVaughan Gething
Member of the Senedd
for Cardiff West
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded byRhodri Morgan
Majority11,211 (30.7%)[1]
Personal details
BornCarmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Political partyLabour
Clare Buckle
(m. 1977)
Alma materUniversity of Kent
University of Exeter
CabinetDrakeford government

Mark Drakeford (born 19 September 1954)[2] is a Welsh Labour Party politician who has been the First Minister of Wales and Leader of Welsh Labour since 2018. Prior to this, he was notable for serving in the Welsh Government as Cabinet Secretary for Finance between 2016 and 2018; Minister for Brexit between 2017 and 2018; and Minister for Health and Social Services between 2013 and 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 University of Wales, Cardiff 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. 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.

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] He studied Latin at the University of Kent,[5] and graduated from the University of Exeter.[6]

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.[citation needed]

Academic career

From 1991 to 1995, Drakeford was a lecturer in applied social studies at the University College of Swansea (now Swansea University).[7] 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.[7] He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1999 and appointed as Professor of Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences in 2003.[7] 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.[8]

Political career

Drakeford has always been interested in politics, which he says was part of the fabric of life in 1960s Carmarthenshire.[9] He has also stated that he was 'always Labour', believing that a person's ties to the economy are the great determining factor in their life chances.[10] In addition to his membership of the Labour Party, he is a member of Unite the Union and UNISON, and a solidarity member of LGBT+ Labour.[11]

From 1985 to 1993, Drakeford represented the Pontcanna ward on South Glamorgan County Council, with fellow future Welsh Assembly members Jane Hutt and Jane Davidson as his ward colleagues.[12] He served as Chair of the Education Committee and took a particular interest in Welsh-medium education.[13]

Having been part of the successful Yes for Wales campaign in the 1997 Welsh devolution referendum, he was selected as the Labour candidate for Cardiff Central at the first Welsh Assembly election, as part of Labour's ‘twinned seats’ policy. The seat was won by the Liberal Democrats' Jenny Randerson.

Following Rhodri Morgan’s appointment as First Minister in 2000, Drakeford became the Welsh Government’s special advisor on health and social policy, and later served as the head of Morgan’s political office. He had been close with Morgan for a number of years, having been Morgan's election agent when he was elected to the UK Parliament. In his role as a special advisor, Drakeford was one of the principal architects of the 'Clear Red Water' philosophy, which made a distinction between Labour Party policy under Morgan in Wales and under Tony Blair in Westminster.[14]

Drakeford succeeded Morgan as the Assembly Member for Cardiff West when the latter retired at the 2011 election. Soon after, he became Chair of the Assembly's Health and Social Care Committee and of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee for European Funds.[13]

In 2013, he was invited by First Minister Carwyn Jones to join the Government, replacing Lesley Griffiths as Minister for Health and Social Services. His appointment was welcomed by the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing. As Health Minister, he guided both the Human Transplantation Act and the Nurse Staffing Levels Act through the Senedd.

In a reshuffle after the 2016 election, he became Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government. His portfolio was later changed, as he assumed responsibility for the Welsh Government’s Brexit preparations and responsibility for local government was transferred to Alun Davies.

Welsh Labour leadership

See also: 2018 Welsh Labour Party leadership election

Immediately following Carwyn Jones' announcement on 21 April 2018 that he intended to resign as party leader and First Minister, Drakeford told BBC Wales he was giving a leadership bid ‘serious consideration’.[15] Two days later, he announced that he would seek to be a candidate in the ensuing leadership contest.[16] He immediately secured the public support of seven other Labour AMs, taking him beyond the threshold of nominations needed to get onto the ballot.[17] Prior to Jones giving written notice of his resignation on 26 September, a further nine Labour AMs announced they would be nominating Drakeford, meaning a majority of the Labour Group in the Senedd would be supporting his candidacy.[18] He later received support from 10 MPs, eight trade unions and 24 Constituency Labour Parties.

At a special conference on 15 September 2018, it was decided that the voting system for Welsh Labour leadership elections would be changed to a variation of one member, one vote – a change for which Drakeford had been campaigning for over 20 years.

Early policy proposals from Drakeford's leadership campaign included a pilot for universal baby bundles and a push for the devolution of the Probation Service.[19][20] At the north Wales launch of his campaign, he set out plans for a Social Partnership Act to protect employment rights, and plans to establish a Community Bank for Wales.[21][better source needed] During an interview, Drakeford said that he was a republican, and had been since the age of 14. According to ITV Wales, were he elected, Drakeford would have a "working relationship with the Royal Family", but did not feel that his views would be "an issue."[22]

On 6 December 2018, it was announced that Drakeford had been elected as the leader of the Welsh Labour Party in succession to Carwyn Jones. He received 46.9% of the vote in the first round of the contest, and 53.9% in the second round compared to 41.4% for Vaughan Gething.[23]

First Minister

Premiership of Mark Drakeford
13 December 2018 – present
Mark Drakeford
CabinetDrakeford government
PartyWelsh Labour
Appointed byElizabeth II
SeatTŷ Hywel
Mark Drakeford at a COVID-19 press conference in January 2021
Mark Drakeford at a COVID-19 press conference in January 2021

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.

As First Minister, Drakeford has been responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Wales. 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.[24]

Personal life

Drakeford married his wife Clare (née Buckle) in Cambridge in 1977. They have three children.[25]

Selected works


  1. ^ Lewis, Anna; Woodhead, Lauren (7 May 2021). "Mark Drakeford retains Cardiff West Senedd seat for Labour with overwhelming majority". Wales Online. Retrieved 7 May 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Mark Drakeford – Who is the First Minister of Wales?". Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  3. ^ Williamson, David (6 April 2018). "Mark Drakeford tipped to be next Welsh Labour leader". WalesOnline. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Drakeford supports Corbyn for leader". BBC News. 14 August 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b Deans, David (6 December 2018). "Who is Mark Drakeford?". BBC News. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  6. ^ Borsay, Anne (2003). Medicine in Wales c. 1800–2000: Public Service or Private Commodity?. ISBN 9780708318249.
  7. ^ a b c "Drakeford, Mark". Who's Who 2019. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Mark Drakeford's research works | Cardiff University, Cardiff (CU) and other places". ResearchGate. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Mark Drakeford Interview". Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  10. ^ acast (12 January 2018). "Mark Drakeford | Martin Shipton Meets... on acast". acast. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Register of interests for Mark Drakeford AM". 24 June 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Welsh Labour leadership: Who is Mark Drakeford?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Member Profile". National Assembly for Wales. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  14. ^ Williamson, David (23 February 2010). "Rhodri's 'clear red water' adviser to stand in his seat". Walesonline. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Drakeford in Welsh Labour leader bid". BBC News. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  16. ^ Shipton, Martin (24 April 2018). "'I'm the unity candidate,' says Mark Drakeford". walesonline. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Drakeford in Welsh Labour leadership bid". BBC News. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Most Labour AMs back Drakeford for leader". BBC News. 17 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Baby bundle plan for newborns backed". BBC News. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Mark for Leader/ Mark ein Harweinydd on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  21. ^ Blythyn, Hannah (14 October 2018). "Highlights on the economy include: Making Wales a world leader in renewable energy A community bank for Wales Changing the way we invest in digital infrastructure A Social Partnership Act A focus on the foundational economy".
  22. ^ "Mark Drakeford on drugs, the monarchy and his vision for Wales, as he launches his manifesto". ITV News. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Drakeford set to be Wales' first minister". BBC News. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Covid-19 rules better understood in Wales than England, says university study". Nation.Cymru. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  25. ^ Waldram, Hannah (24 May 2011). "'I need to do the job in my way' – Mark Drakeford, new AM for Cardiff West". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
Senedd Cymru
Preceded by
Rhodri Morgan
Member of the Senedd for Cardiff West
Political offices
Preceded by
Lesley Griffiths
Minister for Health and Social Services
Succeeded by
Vaughan Gething
Preceded by
Jane Hutt
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Succeeded by
Rebecca Evans
Preceded by
Carwyn Jones
First Minister of Wales
Party political offices
Preceded by
Carwyn Jones
Leader of Welsh Labour