Gareth Bennett (politician)

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Gareth Bennett
AM
Gareth Bennett AM.png
Leader of the UK Independence Party in Wales
Assumed office
10 August 2018
Preceded by Neil Hamilton
Leader of the UK Independence Party in the National Assembly for Wales
Assumed office
10 August 2018
Preceded by Caroline Jones
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for South Wales Central
Assumed office
5 May 2016
Preceded by Eluned Parrott
Personal details
Born (1968-12-01) 1 December 1968 (age 49)
Cardiff, Wales
Political party UK Independence Party
Alma mater Middlesex Polytechnic
Cardiff Institute of Higher Education
Website http://bennettukip.co.uk/

Gareth John Bennett (born 1 December 1968) is a Welsh politician who has been a UK Independence Party Member of the National Assembly for Wales for South Wales Central since the National Assembly for Wales election, 2016.[1] On 10 August 2018 he was elected the leader of UKIP in Wales.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bennett was born in Cardiff on 1 December 1968. He was educated at Llandaff City Primary School and Radyr Comprehensive School.[3] He studied sociology at Middlesex Polytechnic but left halfway through the course, returning to Cardiff to study journalism at the Cardiff Institute of Higher Education, which lead to a post with the Carmarthen Journal.[4]

Political career[edit]

Bennett joined UKIP in 2014. He campaigned in the 2014 European election, and was agent for UKIP candidate Brian Morris in Cardiff West at the 2015 general election.

When Bennett was selected to contest the South Wales Central electoral region, he was criticised for blaming rubbish problems in Cardiff on students and Eastern European immigrants and was nicknamed the 'Donald Trump of Wales'.[5] This led to senior UKIP figures including leader Nigel Farage and immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe publicly distancing themselves from Bennett.[6] A petition containing the names of 16 other UKIP Assembly candidates opposing Bennett's candidacy was presented to the party's National Executive Committee, which upheld his candidacy. He was elected to National Assembly for Wales as member for South Wales Central in 2016.[7]

In the UKIP Assembly group, Bennett backed Neil Hamilton for leader over Nathan Gill. After Hamilton became leader of the group, Bennett was appointed as UKIP Assembly spokesman for Local Government, Housing and Sport. In April 2017, Bennett was appointed as UKIP's Business Manager in the Assembly. In the same month, the Assembly's Equalities Committee, of which Bennett was a member, published a report about refugees. Bennett brought out his own report, in which he complained that the proposals would encourage more refugees to come to Wales.[8]

In December 2017, Bennett was banned from speaking in the Chamber of the Welsh Assembly for a year by Presiding Officer Elin Jones. The ban came after Bennett claimed that making the process to change legal gender easier would lead society to implode.[9] Bennett refused to apologise or withdraw his remarks, and was barred. In January 2018, Bennett made a partial apology in which he stated that he would accept the authority of the Presiding Officer, and he was allowed to resume his speaking duties without withdrawing his previous remarks.[10]

In February 2018, Bennett led UKIP's opposition to plans to expand the Welsh Assembly's membership.[11]

Bennett claimed almost £10,000 in expenses to set up an office which never opened.[12]

In July 2018, it was announced that there would be a ballot of UKIP party members in Wales to decide the position of UKIP Leader in Wales. The three candidates who announced that they were running for the post were former Assembly Group Leader Neil Hamilton, who had just been ousted from the role; Caroline Jones, who had ousted him; and Gareth Bennett. Bennett's main policy planks included his campaign to abolish the Welsh Assembly, and his opposition to the Welsh Government's Welsh language policies.[13] He won the UKIP Wales leadership election in August 2018, with 269 votes.[14]

Bennett was criticised by First Minister Carwyn Jones and other Assembly members for supporting Boris Johnson's remarks about the Muslim veil.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Welsh Election 2016: Labour just short as UKIP wins seats". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Outspoken AM voted UKIP assembly leader". 10 August 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Gareth Bennett". UKIP Wales. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  4. ^ Bennett, Gareth. "Gareth Bennett AM". Gareth Bennett. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  5. ^ Silk, Huw (18 March 2016). "'The Donald Trump of Wales' Ukip candidate condemned for remarks about ethnic minorities in Cardiff". Wales Online. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Farage 'less than impressed' with UKIP race row candidate". BBC News. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  7. ^ Bennett, Gareth. "Gareth Bennett AM". Gareth Bennett AM. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Row over UKIP AM's refugee report". 3 April 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  9. ^ "AM barred over 'hateful' Senedd speech". BBC News. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  10. ^ "UKIP AM's speech ban is lifted". 29 August 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  11. ^ "UKIP Wales opposes Assembly expansion – Llanelli Online". llanellionline.news.
  12. ^ Deans, David (17 April 2018). "UKIP AM spent £10k on unopened office" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  13. ^ "Bennett bids to lead UKIP assembly group". 26 June 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  14. ^ "Outspoken AM voted UKIP assembly leader". 10 August 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  15. ^ Ian Craig (13 August 2018). "War of words over 'irresponsible' and 'racist' burka comments". South Wales Argus.
National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
Eluned Parrott
Assembly Member for South Wales Central
2016 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent