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Mark Drakeford refuses to share office with ‘parachute’ candidate

24 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Mark Drakeford (L). Photo by Peter Byrne PA and Alex Barros-Curtis

Martin Shipton

Former First Minister Mark Drakeford has refused to share an office with Labour’s “parachute” candidate Alex Barros-Curtis and has instructed his staff to seek new premises elsewhere, we can reveal.

Since Mr Drakeford was elected to represent Cardiff West at what is now the Senedd in 2011, he has shared an office building in the constituency with Kevin Brennan, who was MP for the seat until Parliament was dissolved at the end of May for the general election.

It was Mr Brennan’s late decision to stand down that resulted in Mr Barros-Curtis being imposed on the constituency Labour party, without grassroots members having an opportunity to participate in a normal selection process.

Instead, a panel appointed by Labour’s National Executive Committee picked Mr Barros-Curtis under a greatly shortened procedure.

Activists

NationCymru has been told by multiple party members that many grassroots activists in the constituency are refusing to campaign for the imposed candidate, who is UK Labour’s executive director of legal affairs.

Since Mr Barros-Curtis’ selection as the Cardiff West candidate, UK Labour has decided to discontinue a legal case brought against five former members of the party’s staff for allegedly leaking a report that described how other party employees who were opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership worked against him, damaged the party’s electoral chances and sent abusive messages about senior figures.

The aborted legal case, which was driven by Mr Barros-Curtis, is expected to cost the party millions of pounds in legal costs.

Companies House searches revealed that he was one of two directors of Owen2016 Campaign Ltd, set up to run the ill-fated bid of the then Pontypridd MP Owen Smith to displace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Mr Smith’s campaign was widely seen as disastrous, with him managing to alienate many of the party’s supposedly moderate supporters. Mr Corbyn was re-elected by a landslide, and Mr Smith subsequently decided to end his political career and now works as a pharmaceutical industry executive in Australia.

Party leadership

When Keir Starmer stood for the party leadership in 2020, Mr Barros-Curtis was the sole director of a company called Movement for Another Future Ltd, which was set up to support his campaign. The firm was registered at the same London address as petrol station group Rontec, whose parent company Rontec Holdings was revealed by the Paradise Papers leak to be based in the tax haven of Jersey.

Rontec was founded by Sir Gerald Ronson, a businessman and philanthropist who was jailed in the 1980s for his role in a share-dealing scandal, but who received a knighthood in the 2024 New Year’s Honours list for his services to charity and the Jewish community.

A leaflet promoting Mr Barros-Curtis is being distributed in Cardiff West, but noticeably does not include an endorsement of him by former First Minister Mark Drakeford, who represents the seat at the Senedd.

Equally, while Mr Drakeford has appeared in pictures taken by party members that show him campaigning in various seats across Wales, no such pictures have appeared on social media showing him campaigning for Mr Barros-Curtis in the seat he represents at the Senedd.

Angered

A Welsh Labour insider told NationCymru: “Mark has so far refused to endorse him, saying that the way he was imposed on the constituency has angered many members of the local party, including himself. Mark has said that Alex Barros-Curtis has a lot of work to do to earn the trust of local party members. Many such members are not campaigning for him.”

We have now established that Mr Drakeford, who remains in the Senedd as a Labour backbencher until the next devolved election in 2026, has refused to share an office with Mr Barros-Curtis, who is regarded as a racing certainty to be elected as the MP for Cardiff West on July 4.

The current constituency office has been run as a joint operation by Mr Drakeford and Mr Brennan, with shared costs funded by the UK and Welsh governments. The men are close friends and have worked together in harmony for many years, since they were both advisers to Rhodri Morgan, who was First Minister from 2000 until 2009.

Another Welsh Labour insider told NationCymru: “Mark is very angry about the way the constituency party in Cardiff West has been treated. For many years the local party has been run by activists who are to the left of Keir Starmer, and by imposing Alex Barros-Curtis as the candidate the UK party has shown great disrespect to local members.

“Active steps are being taken to shut down the existing joint office in Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, and open a new one for Mark. Mr Barros-Curtis will have to find an office of his own.”

We left a detailed message for Mr Barros-Curtis, inviting him to respond, but he has not done so.


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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
19 days ago

Da iawn Drakes. A man of principles!!

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
19 days ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

I agree. I did not always agree with his decisions but he is a man with principles. Nowadays probably looked at as a dinosaur.

Jackjack89
Jackjack89
19 days ago

Nep a sure seat for mates !

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
19 days ago

Paradise Papers, Jersey based companies and ties to Israel. This kind of nonsense is, has and will always be part of the problem with the right of the Labour Party. There’s a distinct whiff of establishment control of Labour to ensure it doesn’t rock the proverbial boat whilst Governing the UK. I don’t like this and it adds to my list of reasons not to vote for them. If Labour ever want my vote they can start by listening to their membership and NOT dictating to them. This Starmer leadership is no better than Farage’s!

Gaynor
Gaynor
19 days ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

Wake up Labour voters in Wales. Thete is no Welsh Labour. It is England HQ which now runs the Senedd and will not represent Wales’s interests at Westminster

Michael Bailey
Michael Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  Gaynor

?

Diana Paul Hodson
Diana Paul Hodson
10 days ago
Reply to  Gaynor

No, there is a Welsh government

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
19 days ago

One of the good things about this country is that we have a right to agree to differ. I personally believe that it
Is good to look at both sides of an issue. What I find difficult is when politicians are bending with the wind depending on how well they are going to benefit. Any politician who tries hard to keep their standards and maintain their principles should be applauded even if they’re not agreed with.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
16 days ago
Reply to  Old Curmudgeon

Yet, despite the right to differ or disagree, the UK Labour Party is not listening or taking on board any criticism whatsoever. Actually a very troubling sign for Welsh democracy!

Jen
Jen
19 days ago

Strange Drakeford turned up in Swansea West constituency to promote their parachute candidate. Hard to say it is a matter of principle. Dump on Swansea but object in Cardiff.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
19 days ago
Reply to  Jen

Maybe there’s a specific problem with Alex Barros-Curtis and tax dodging companies?

Daniel Pitt
Daniel Pitt
19 days ago

Drakeford is in the right here. This candidate is of dubious integrity and doesn’t seem to have any connection with the Cardiff West seat.

Erisian
Erisian
19 days ago

Never mind not sharing an office. A lot of us resent sharing our oxygen with Mr Parachute.

John Ellis
John Ellis
19 days ago

I don’t blame Drakeford – in this matter I think that he’s made a reasonable and principled decision. When Welsh Labour elected him as their leader, and made him ipso facto our first minister, my reaction was that he’d be a total dead duck. After all, his previous political career gave no particular indication that he’d be anything more than a dull machine politician. But it turned out that I was wholly wrong in that estimation, because he turned out to be that rarest of rare birds, a scrupulously honest, principled, frank and open career politician. I didn’t always agree… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
19 days ago

I have no time for “Welsh” Labour and the imposition of candidates in Cardiff and Swansea simply reinforces the party’s distain for Cymru.
The imposition of candidates underlines how deceitful their English leader is – how many readers know that in 2020, just after becoming leader, said “The selections for Labour candidates needs to be more democratic and we should end NEC imposition of candidates.”
Presumably this does not apply to safe Welsh seats?

Michael Bailey
Michael Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Totally agree 👍

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
19 days ago

I have a lot of respect for Mark Drakeford, even though I have lost respect for the Labour party.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
19 days ago

Prif. Mark Drakeford is a better man than the parachutist Alex Barros-Curtis (and a far, far better man than mr keir starmer) for sticking to his principles.

The professor certainly is a rare breed of politician. He does his best to be open, honest and transparent. I believe he is old school democratic socialist (so would definitely have my support if he supported independence).

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
17 days ago

The people of Cardiff West do NOT have to vote for the candidate imposed on them by the Labour Party.

People of Cardiff should vote for the best candidate to serve their interest.

Plaid Cymru – The party of Wales has NO outside group imposing candidates and policies on the people of Wales,

Plaid Cymru is made in Wales.

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