Seb Coe: Rod Richards' downfall gave me political break


I bought it for the inside story of athletics triumphs and London 2012. But Seb Coe's autobiography sheds new light on the political career of a former Welsh Conservative MP.

Coe was a Tory MP between 1992 and 1997 and then worked for William Hague during his time as party leader. His memoirs tell how, as a backbencher, he took his first step up the ministerial ladder as a result of Rod Richards' sacking from his job as a Welsh office minister.

It began with John Major's "back to basics" policy which was designed to promote traditional values but, as Coe puts it, was sold to the media as a moral crusade as a result of mishandling by the press office.

It led to Major pursuing a policy of zero tolerance of colourful private lives. Coe writes: "In June 1996 the News of the World published photographs of junior minister Rod Richards, suggesting an involvement with a young woman not his wife. He was immediately sacked, in parliamentary parlance he "resigned", as per the now standard procedure."

Half a dozen Tory MPs from the 1992 intake took Mr Richards [then MP for Clwyd West] out for a commiseratory lunch, during which Coe was called to an interview with the government chief whip, the beneficiary of the musical chairs that accompany a resignation.

"Once Rod Richards departed the Welsh office, someone [Jonathan Evans] from the solicitor general's office took his place. Then a west country MP, a solicitor, was moved to the now empty chair in the solicitor general's office, which left a vacancy where the solicitor had been: the whips' office."

Coe swiftly discovered the ways of the whips, as his new colleagues delivered what sounded like intelligence reports to an office meeting. A fellow whip announced: "Rod Richards left the house [of commons] at 12.20, in the company of John Sykes and Sebastian Coe. They took lunch at the Golden Dragon in Gerrard Street..."

Coe writes: "I was stunned. There I was, meandering through London's Chinatown, completely oblivious that our every move was being noted. And this was just one of an index of MPs' lunch arrangements that were recorded that day. They knew everything. And that, I soon discovered, was my new job. To know everything."

Both Coe - and Richards - lost their seats in the 1997 general election. Richards recently joined UKIP, fuelling speculation of a political comeback in next year's European elections. Coe, a life peer since 2000, may still retain electoral ambitions although they appear confined to the presidency of the IAAF, the International Association of Athletics Federations.

David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

Their Lordships do the lockstep

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  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    If you read my previous, you would realise "Noddy" would get my vote to oppose the WAG with irreverence
    I can't believe someone would vote for an extreme right wing party just to oppose WG

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    No! I am saying that the modern PC has failed to repudiate its founders and their policies of tolerating terrorism and their support for fascism in Spain and Ireland.
    English Governments have such a good record;. Bloody Sunday, Drogheda, Tonypandy, Tasmania, Calcutta etc etc etc. Is Mandela a Terrorist or a freedom fighter???

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    If you read my previous, you would realise "Noddy" would get my vote to oppose the WAG with irreverence
    So you'd vote for a right wing extremist party including the EDL to oppose WG that's some statement!!
    No one has ever said how good the Welsh NHS is but lets not pretend the English one is any better. But lets just remind ourselves;111, Stafford; recruitment; A&E and Leeds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Since this has drifted into off-topic un-moderated nonsense, any nats care to comment about their hollow boasting about how good the welsh assembly run NHS is care to comment about the stories regarding the North Wales board, UHW and the POW ? Just the start to be sure. No , thought not, just remind us about the NHS in England's faults....

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Would not Ann Clwyd show some understanding of, and respect for, the constitution if she were to leave questions about Welsh hospitals to the AMs, since this is a devolved matter.
    If she still wants to carry on a private vendetta by any means, perhaps it would be better if she just resigned.


Comments 5 of 59



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