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Birth pangs or a honeymoon from hell? The long annus horribilis for Welsh devolution, 1998?2000

Evans, Adam ORCID: 2023. Birth pangs or a honeymoon from hell? The long annus horribilis for Welsh devolution, 1998?2000. Contemporary British History 37 (2) , pp. 192-215. 10.1080/13619462.2023.2167077
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2024 marks twenty-five years since the first elections to, and meeting of, the National Assembly for Wales. The Assembly had been established by the narrowest of margins at a referendum in 1997. However, supporters of devolution would have no honeymoon period. Instead, the period from Autumn 1998 to February 2000 marked what might almost be seen as a long annus horribilis for Welsh devolution. This was a period of political instability, weak leadership and partisan infighting, all of which threatened the credibility of an already vulnerable devolution project. This article outlines how this saga began with the resignation of Ron Davies as Secretary of State for Wales in 1998 and only ended when Alun Michael, Davies’s successor as Welsh Labour leader and the first First Secretary of Wales, was forced out of office. This paper uses recently released archival materials to add new detail to this story, demonstrating the extent to which the UK Government orchestrated Michael’s rise to power, the clear sense of buyer’s remorse Michael’s backers would go on to experience and the frenzied discussions that went on within Whitehall during his beleaguered tenure as First Secretary.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Wales Governance Centre (WGCES)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 6 January 2023
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 05:05

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