Wales

Government adviser's 'Trump' blog rant at AM Alun Davies

Alun Davies Image copyright Labour
Image caption Former local government minister Alun Davies lost his cabinet job after Mark Drakeford was appointed first minister in December

A newly-appointed Welsh Government special adviser has compared one of its former cabinet members to Donald Trump.

Paul Griffiths likened Labour AM Alun Davies's use of "alternative facts" about local government to Trump's false claims about climate change.

The comments, made last year in a blog, came to light little over a month after Mr Griffiths was made an adviser for local government minister Julie James.

The Welsh Government said the remarks did not represent its views.

Former Labour councillor Mr Griffiths, who once served as an adviser to the late Rhodri Morgan, criticised plans to reorganise local government in a series of posts on his website pgriffithsblog.

Image copyright BBC / Getty Images / Reuters
Image caption As well as likening Mr Davies' handling of the situation to Trump, he also threw in comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Conservative MP Boris Johnson.

He wrote: "When certain politicians do not like tested and confirmed evidence they make up 'alternative' facts.

"Putin says he has no soldiers in Ukraine.

"Trump says the climate is not changing.

"Johnson says that Brexit will lead to £350 million a week more for the NHS.

"Alun Davies the Welsh Government's Local Government Minister says that local authorities in Wales need to have an average populations size of 300,000 in order to meet contemporary challenges.

"There is no factual evidence to support this.... It is an alternative fact."

In March 2018, the Welsh Government set out steps to reform and "strengthen" local government. Merger proposals included "voluntary, phased and comprehensive ones".

Mr Griffiths said the plans were effectively taking "the word 'local' out of local government".

And in a further post in April he claimed that "alternative facts are once again being manipulated" by the Welsh Government "to justify the unjustifiable".

The Welsh Government said the comments were the views of a "private individual".

A spokesman said: "They do not represent the views of the Welsh Government then or now.

"As a temporary special adviser Paul Griffiths will provide advice on a wide range of issues - advice which may or may not influence the views and decisions of ministers."

Plaid Cymru said described Mr Griffiths' appointment as "surreal" while Welsh Conservative AM Mark Isherwood said he agreed with the comments and hoped the adviser would "knock some sense into this government from within".

Mr Davies tweeted: "I know and like Paul and welcome his appointment. I also know his views on local [government].

"He was wrong then and he has been consistently wrong about local [government]. And that's all fine."

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