John Osmond reports on the winners at last night’s award ceremony in Cardiff’s City Hall
Cynon Valley Labour MP Ann Clwyd was named Wales Yearbook Politician of the Year at a ceremony in Cardiff’s City Hall last night in recognition of her campaign to improve conditions for patients in NHS hospitals.
In October a Government-commissioned inquiry, led by Ms Clwyd, came up with a raft of recommendations to improve conditions for patients in hospital. Prime Minister David cameron appointed her to lead the inquiry following a campaign she mounted following the death of her husband in the Heath Hospital in Cardiff last year.
Ms Clwyd said her husband Owen Roberts, a former head of news and current affairs for BBC Cymru Wales who suffered from MS, died “like a battery hen” at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. She said he had “hospital-induced pneumonia” and nurses did not keep him warm or care for him.
Following a television interview in which she spoke of her experience Ms Clwyd was sent more than 2,500 letters and emails from people describing similar problems and dissatisfaction with the way complaints are handled. They said they were often unaware of how to make complaints or of the identities of staff they wanted to complain about. They also said they feared reprisals if they did raise concerns.
Organiser of the awards Denis Balsom, Editor of the Wales Year Book, said Ms Clwyd’s campaign had “captured the public imagination”. He said it was also in recognition of her service over decades as MP for Cynon Valley since 1984.
The Assembly Member for South Wales West Peter Black was named AM of the Year as the first backbencher to bring a primary legislative proposal to fruition following the 2011 referendum. He won the first Private Members’ Ballot following the vote and decided to introduce a Bill that would bring in fair, easy to use processes and clear rights for both mobile home residents and site owners. In September his Mobile Homes (Wales) Bill was voted on to the statute book.
As he said, “For too long mobile home residents have had a raw deal and not had the rights they deserve. Under the current law there is little protection for residents from unscrupulous park homes site owners, a minority of whom may exploit their position for personal gain. Problems can include poor site management and vetoing or deterring legitimate sales. My Bill will stop this unfairness.”
Welsh MP of the Year was named as Aberconwy Conservative Guto Bebb who was first elected in May 2010. However, he has quickly made his mark as a vociferous member of the Public Accounts Committee during its high profile interrogations of those connected with the phone-hacking scandal, including Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of the global News Corporation.
Campaigner of the Year was awarded to Rhodri Glyn Thomas Plaid Cymru’s AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, who last year raised the alarm about a possible withdrawal of Welsh Government support for poor households receiving council tax benefit threatened by the Westminster coalition with having to pay the tax, many for the first time. Some 330,000 homes could have been affected affected. Rhodri Glyn Thomas’s campaign resulted in the recall of the Assembly in December last year and the threatened cuts were re-instated, at a cost of £24 million. Following a review a further £22 million has been found to cover this year’s shortfall.
The politician ‘to watch’ was named as the South West Wales Conservative AM Suzy Davies. Although only first elected in 2011 she has assumed responsibility for drawing up the Welsh Conservative’s manifesto for the next election from South Wales Central AM David Melding who is Deputy Presiding Officer.
The local politician of the year is the Labour leader of the City and County of Swansea David Phillips,in recognition of a number of innovative poverty policies in some of the authority’s socially deprived areas and for promoting Swansea’s profile by being shortlisted as City of Culture.
The Lifetime Achievement ward went to Lord Elystan Morgan in acknowledgement of his influence on Wales’s political culture over many decades. In the 1950s and early 1960s he fought a number of elections for Plaid Cymru, including Meirionnydd in 1964, and was widely regarded as being Gwynfor Evans’ most likely successor. However, in 1965 he left Plaid for Labour judging that he could more effectively advance the cause of Welsh autonomy under its banner.
He was duly elected MP for Ceredigion in 1966 and in short order entered Harold Wilson’s government as a Home Office Minister. In that role he was influential in persuading the government to establish the Kilbrandon Commission on the Constitution in 1968, which was a key step in the early devolution process. Although he lost his Ceredigion seat to the Liberals in 1974 he continued to be active in Welsh politics, especially as leader of the yes campaign in the 1979 referendum
A lawyer and Circuit Judge between 1987 and 2003, he was created a Life Peer in 1981 and sits as a Crossbencher. Earlier this year he published his memoirs Atgofion Elystan, which demonstrate how much unites rather than divides the progressive parties in the politics of Wales.