Leighton Andrews

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Leighton Andrews
Leighton Andrews.jpg
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for Rhondda
Assumed office
1 May 2003
Preceded by Geraint Davies
Majority 6,739 (33.6%)
Minister for Education and Skills
In office
10 December 2009 – 25 June 2013
First Minister Carwyn Jones
Preceded by Jane Hutt
Succeeded by Huw Lewis
Personal details
Born (1957-08-11) 11 August 1957 (age 58)
Wales Cardiff, Wales
Political party Welsh Labour
Spouse(s) Ann Beynon
Children 2
Alma mater Bangor University, University of Sussex
Occupation Lobbyist, lecturer
Website Welsh Labour

Leighton Andrews (born 11 August 1957) is a Welsh Labour[1] politician. He has been the National Assembly for Wales member for Rhondda since 2003, and was Minister for Children, Education & Lifelong Learning in the Welsh Government until his resignation on 25 June 2013 after a conflict between his own departmental policy and his active campaigning to save a school in his constituency.[2]

On 11 September 2014 he returned to the government as the Minister for public services, against a background of funding cuts and proposals from the Williams Commission for changes including extensive reform of local government boundaries.[3]

Background and education[edit]

Andrews was born in Cardiff, and brought up in Barry until the age of 11, when his family moved to Dorset. He holds a BA Honours (English and History) from the University of Wales, Bangor and an MA in History from the University of Sussex. He has been a visiting Professor at the University of Westminster from 1997 to 2002; and is an Honorary Professor at Cardiff University.

Andrews is married to Ann Beynon, BT Director Wales; the couple have two children.

Professional career[edit]

  • Parliamentary Officer Age Concern, 1982–84
  • UK Campaign Director, UN International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, 1984–87
  • Public Affairs Consultant 1988-1993 and 1997–2001
  • Head of Public Affairs for the BBC from 1993–96, based in London, responsible for the BBC's relations with the UK Parliament and with the EU institutions. Lecturer at Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies immediately prior to his election to the National Assembly.

He is a published academic, whose peer-reviewed articles and chapters include The National Assembly for Wales and broadcasting policy, 1999-2003 Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 28, No. 2, 191-210 (2006);[4] Wales and the UK’s Communications Legislation 2002–2003, Cyfrwng 2005,[5] and Spin: from tactic to tabloid, Journal of Public Affairs, Volume 6, Issue 1, Date: February 2006, Pages: 31-45 [6] and the chapter 'Lobbying for a new BBC Charter' in The Handbook of Public Affairs edited by Phil Harris and Craig Fleischer, Sage, 2006.[7]

Chapters in other books include 'New Labour, New England', in The Blair Agenda, Ed. Mark Perryman, Lawrence and Wishart, 1996,[8] 'Too important to leave to the Politicians' in The Road to the National Assembly for Wales, ed J.Barry Jones and Denis Balsom,[9] 'The Breakdown of Tom Nairn', in Gordon Brown: Bard of Britishness, edited by John Osmond, IWA, 2006,[10] and the Labour chapter in Welsh Politics Come of Age: Responses to the Richard Commission (Paperback) edited by John Osmond, IWA, 2004,[11]

Political career[edit]

Andrews was an active Liberal in the 1980s, and stood as the Liberal-SDP Alliance candidate for Gillingham in the 1987 General Election at the age of 29. On returning to Wales to live in 1996 he was appointed to the board of Tai Cymru - Housing for Wales by the then Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, William Hague.

He was co-founder of the Yes for Wales campaign for the 1997 referendum. During the referendum campaign he produced a paper with Gareth Hughes, then of the Welsh Federation of Housing Associations (now known as Community Housing Cymru) and now of ITV Wales, arguing that savings could be found to liberate more funding for housing from the Government's proposal to abolish Tai Cymru as part of the devolution settlement[12]

National Assembly for Wales[edit]

He joined Labour [13] following the successful referendum campaign for a Welsh Assembly. He is the author of "Wales Says Yes", a history of that campaign.[14]

In 2002 Leighton Andrews was selected to fight Rhondda for Labour, after the party's shock defeat to Plaid Cymru's Geraint Davies at the 1999 Assembly election. Andrews retook the seat, with the highest increase in Labour's vote of any constituency in Wales (+21.1%) and its highest constituency vote.

In his first term as an Assembly Member, he sat on the Economic Development and Transport Committee (later called the Enterprise, Innovation and Networks Committee) (January 2005 - April 2007); Audit Committee (June 2003 - April 2007); Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee (June 2003 - November 2005); and Education and Lifelong Learning Committee (June 2003 - January 2005).

His re-election in 2007 with Labour's highest vote in Wales, despite a national swing against Labour, was seen as an acknowledgment of his efforts.


Andrews was appointed to the Welsh Assembly Government on 31 May 2007, as a Deputy Minister for Social Justice and Public Service Delivery, with special responsibility for housing. His speech in the Assembly on 27 June set out the broad thrust of the housing agenda which was to form the policy of the new coalition government.[15]

On 19 July 2007 he was appointed as Deputy Minister for Regeneration in the coalition government.

In the autumn of 2009 he was campaign manager for Carwyn Jones' successful campaign to become Welsh Labour Leader. Jones's election to the post was announced on 1 December.

Following Carwyn Jones's election as First Minister on 8 December 2009, Andrews was appointed by Jones to the Welsh Assembly Government Cabinet on 10 December as Minister for Children, Education & Lifelong Learning.

University Agenda[edit]

Andrews was a strong proponent of merging the universities of Wales to establish larger, more stable institutions. This agenda, and the Minister's political approach to it, proved to be extremely controversial. His campaign opened with a blunt speech to vice-chancellors, whereby he accused them of ignoring the Welsh Assembly Government, and announcing a review into the governance and sustainability of the HE sector.[16] Shortly before the review group was due to meet for the first time, he announced what its conclusions would be by stating that there would be 'fewer vice chancellors' because of mergers among HE institutions.[17] At the time, his statement was met with cautious welcome, particularly from academics. It also led to the merger of two small universities in Swansea and Dyfed, along with the University of Wales, to create one university out of four predecessor institutions, with the option of merging further with local FE colleges to produce a new post-16 educational model.[18]

However, the stresses and strains of the merger process caused a rising tide of opposition. Particular problems surrounded UWIC. Initially, that University planned to merge with Swansea Metropolitan University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of Wales to form a new federal university.[19] This fell through after a scandal involving quality control at the University of Wales, during the course of which Andrews forced its closure.[20] UWIC renamed itself Cardiff Metropolitan University and began exercising its won degree awarding powers, announcing it intended to remain independent.[21][22] Cardiff Metropolitan University refused to merge and threatened legal action in a bid to remain independent, citing the Minister's lack of a business case for merger.[23] Andrews threatened to forcibly dissolve the institution and transfer its assets to the University of Glamorgan to create his favoured outcome of one giant Technical University in the Valleys.[24] Bangor University, Aberystwyth University, Glyndwr University and Swansea University appeared to escape the Minister's strategy and were expected to remain independent, along with Cardiff University (which previously merged with the University of Wales school of Medicine in a move claimed as a success by HEFCW).[25][26] Cardiff Metropolitan University, however, has remained independent and has continued to develop and thrive. Meanwhile, the University of South Wales campus at Caerleon (formerly the main campus of University of Wales, Newport) has been cited for closure.

GCSE remarking 2012[edit]

In September 2012, Andrews ordered the remarking of several thousand GCSE English papers in Wales that had been affected by a very late change in the marking scheme. His move was greeted with great relief and enthusiasm by teachers and candidates.[27][28] However, it drew strong criticism from Michael Gove, who accused Andrews of being 'irresponsible and mistaken'.[29]

Ministerial resignation[edit]

Andrews actively campaigned to keep the Pentre Primary School in his Rhondda constituency open, although it had 2/3rds empty spaces, in contradiction of his own department's schools closure policy. As a result, Andrews was criticised by members of the Welsh Assembly, and resigned on 25 June 2013 after First Minister Carwyn Jones refused to support his position. This was the first forced resignation in the history of the Welsh Assembly or Welsh Government.[2]

Burberry campaign[edit]

On 6 September 2006 Burberry announced the closure of its Treorchy factory. Immediately the GMB union announced a campaign to save the factory, backed by Andrews and local MP Chris Bryant.[30][31] Over the next six months one of the most high-profile campaigns [32] against factory closures ever seen in Wales took place, with protests from international celebrities and pickets of Burberry stores around the world. Andrews secured the support of Burberry ‘face’ and Hollywood actor Ioan Gruffudd, the first of many celebrities to come on board.[33][34][35] He was described by GMB senior organiser Mervyn Burnett at the rally on the last day of the factory ‘as the Assembly member who has been at the forefront of this campaign’ [36]

The factory closed in March 2007, with the loss of 300 jobs.[37] Though the factory closed, the campaign secured an extended life for its operation, better redundancy terms for the Burberry workers, and a trust fund for the Rhondda worth £150,000 per year over the next ten years.[38][39][40][41] In her review of the year 2007, the Rhondda-born journalist Carolyn Hitt said:[42]

Labour AM Leighton Andrews and MP Chris Bryant fought a passionate campaign to save 300 jobs at the Burberry clothing factory in their Rhondda constituency. But even the added celebrity glitter of Dame Judi Dench, Ioan Gruffudd and Emma Thompson couldn’t persuade the grasping label to stay. The campaign did, however, ensure a better redundancy deal and long-term community fund for the workforce.

The BBC recognised Leighton Andrews and Chris Bryant for their work in the campaign, naming them as joint campaigners of the year in the 2007 BBC Wales political awards.[43]


His media and debating skills were recognised in December 2005 when he was named as Best New AM in the ITV Wales Political Awards; and Best Communicator in the BBC Wales AM-PM awards.

Attitude to devolution[edit]

Andrews voted 'Yes' in the first referendum on devolution in 1979, his first ever vote. He was one of the founders of the Yes campaign in 1997.[14]

Andrews supports primary law-making powers for the National Assembly for Wales, provided they are approved by the people of Wales in a referendum. He argued at the Welsh Labour Special Conference in September 2004 that this should have been Welsh Labour's response to the Richard Commission, arguing "Are we really going to say that Rhodri Morgan cannot have primary law-making powers when Gerry Adams and the Reverend Ian Paisley can?" [44]

In the autumn of 2010, he was asked by First Minister Carwyn Jones and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones to convene the planning group for the Yes campaign in the March 2011 referendum on the Assembly's law-making powers.


  1. ^ National Assembly for Wales - Assembly Member details - Leighton Andrews
  2. ^ a b "Education Minister Leighton Andrews resigns". BBC Wales. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  3. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-29167691
  4. ^ The National Assembly for Wales and broadcasting policy, 1999-2003 - Andrews 28 (2): 191 - Media, Culture & Society
  5. ^ Cyfrwng Journal
  6. ^ Wiley InterScience: Search Results
  7. ^ The handbook of public affairs - Google Books
  8. ^ The Blair Agenda
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Institute of Welsh Affairs
  11. ^ Amazon.co.uk: Welsh Politics Come of Age: Responses to the Richard Commission: Books: John Osmond
  12. ^ Leighton Andrews: Return to Housing[dead link]
  13. ^ Meadowcroft, Michael. "What's he doing there? Michael Meadowcroft laments the passage of Leighton Andrews from Liberal thinker to cheerleader for Blair's authoritarians". 
  14. ^ a b Amazon.co.uk: wales says yes
  15. ^ 3. ^ http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-chamber/bus-chamber-third-assembly-rop.htm?act=dis&id=54731&ds=6/2007#rhif3
  16. ^ Powis, Betsan (26 May 2010). "Putting about some stick". BBC Reporters' Blogs. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Universities in Wales told to 'adapt or die'". BBC Website. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Swansea Met and Trinity Saint David join as Cardiff Met fights own merger plan". BBC Website. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Radical Welsh super-university plan agreed". BBC Website. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "University of Wales needs 'decent burial' - Leighton Andrews". BBC Website. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "UWIC no longer involved in super-university plan". BBC Website. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  22. ^ "UWIC changes name to Cardiff Metropolitan University". BBC Website. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "University Merger Plan: Cardiff Met's watchdog threat". BBC Website. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  24. ^ Matthews, David (17 July 2012). "Merge or dissolve - Andrews plays his cards in Cardiff Met row". Times Higher Educational Supplement. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Staff (18 March 2003). "Cardiff University to Merge with Medical College". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  26. ^ HEFCW (2010). Evaluation of the impact of the merger of Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine FINAL REPORT (PDF). Cardiff: HEFCW. 
  27. ^ "GCSE English: WJEC ordered to regrade exams". BBC News. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  28. ^ Smith, Nicola (19 September 2012). "GCSE English regrade results joy for 2,300 Welsh pupils". BBC Website (news report). Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  29. ^ Jones, V (12 September 2012). "Leighton Andrews under fire for 'irresponsible' GCSE English regrade demand". This is South Wales. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  30. ^ "Burberry workers to fight closure". BBC News. 7 September 2006. 
  31. ^ GMB Burberry Workers To Demonstrate At Welsh Assembly[dead link]
  32. ^ Keep Burberry British
  33. ^ "Hollywood star in Burberry battle". BBC News. 19 September 2006. 
  34. ^ Keep Burberry British: Ioan Gruffudd speaks up for Burberry workers[dead link]
  35. ^ GMB Members At Burberry In South Wales Warmly Welcome Support Of Actor Ioan Gruffudd To Keep The Factory Open[dead link]
  36. ^ Burberry Last Day Rally Part 1 on YouTube
  37. ^ Economics, government & business - Burberry South Wales factory to close and 300 jobs to go despite high-profile protests - 23 March 2007
  38. ^ "Closure put back at Burberry site". BBC News. 8 November 2006. 
  39. ^ Burberry Agrees To Keep Treorchy Factory Open Until End Of March 2007[dead link]
  40. ^ Statement On Behalf Of Allan Garley Gmb, Leighton Andrews Am & Chris Bryant Mp On The Agreement Reached With Burberry Regarding Treorchy Factory[dead link]
  41. ^ Keep Burberry British: Campaign successes[dead link]
  42. ^ That was the year that almost wasn’t - icWales
  43. ^ "Jones takes top politician award". BBC News. 5 December 2007. 
  44. ^ United behind uncertainty - icWales

External links[edit]

Offices held[edit]

National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
Geraint Davies
Assembly Member for Rhondda
Political offices
Preceded by
(new post)
Deputy Minister for Housing
31 May 2007 – 19 July 2007
Succeeded by
Jocelyn Davies
Preceded by
Huw Lewis
Deputy Minister for Regeneration
2007 – December 2009
Succeeded by
Jocelyn Davies
Preceded by
Jane Hutt
Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning
December 2009 – June 2013
Succeeded by
Huw Lewis