Dafydd Wigley

Dafydd Wynne Wigley, Baron Wigley, PC (born David Wigley; 1 April 1943) is a Welsh politician. He served as Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament (MP) for Caernarfon[1] from 1974 until 2001 and as Assembly Member for Caernarfon from 1999 until 2003. He was the leader of Plaid Cymru from 1981 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 2000. On 19 November 2010 it was announced that he had been granted a life peerage by the Queen,[2] and he took his seat in the House of Lords, as Baron Wigley of Caernarfon, on 24 January 2011.[3]

The Lord Wigley
Dafydd Wigley.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
24 January 2011
Life Peerage
Assembly Member
for Caernarfon
In office
6 May 1999 – 1 May 2003
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byAlun Ffred Jones
Member of Parliament
for Caernarfon
In office
28 February 1974 – 14 May 2001
Preceded byGoronwy Roberts
Succeeded byHywel Williams
Personal details
David Wigley

(1943-04-01) 1 April 1943 (age 78)
Derby, England
Political partyPlaid Cymru
Spouse(s)Elinor Bennett
Alma materVictoria University of Manchester

Early lifeEdit

Wigley was born in Derby, England, the only child of Welsh parents Elfyn Edward Wigley and Myfanwy Batterbee. He attended Caernarfon grammar school and Rydal School before going on to the Victoria University of Manchester[4] and training as an accountant. He was employed by Hoover as a financial controller before entering parliament[citation needed].

Political careerEdit

In May 1972 Wigley became a councillor on the pre-1974 Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, after a shock win in the Park ward, pushing the sitting Labour councillor into third place.[5]

UK ParliamentEdit

After coming second at Merioneth in the 1970 General Election, in 1974 Wigley became one of Plaid Cymru's first three MPs to be elected to the UK Parliament. He beat Dafydd Elis Thomas to be elected party president (leader) in 1981 following the retirement of Gwynfor Evans, who had led Plaid Cymru since 1945.

The election for president was seen as instrumental in deciding the future direction of Plaid Cymru. Wigley represented a moderate, pragmatic social democracy, in sharp contrast with rival candidate Dafydd Elis Thomas's socialism. Wigley's triumph in 1981 was largely a pyrrhic victory – he won the presidency, but Elis Thomas would have a greater influence over the party's ideology throughout the 1980s. In 1984 Wigley resigned from the presidency because of his children's health, but he returned to the job in 1991 for a second term after the resignation of Elis Thomas. Wigley went on to lead Plaid until 2000. He stood down as an MP at the 2001 General Election to concentrate on his role in the Assembly.[6]

National Assembly for WalesEdit

In the 1999 National Assembly for Wales election Wigley became a member of the National Assembly for Wales, and led the Plaid Cymru opposition to Labour, before his resignation from the leadership, officially on medical advice but amid rumours of an internal plot against him in 2000.[citation needed] and in 2003 as an AM.

In 2006 he sought and secured nomination to Plaid Cymru's North Wales party list as the secondary candidate for the 2007 National Assembly for Wales election but, because in part of constituency seat gains, Plaid Cymru failed to gain a second regional seat.

House of LordsEdit

He secured a Plaid Cymru nomination for a peerage alongside Eurfyl ap Gwilym and Janet Davies.[7] He initially withdrew his candidature after complaining how long the process was taking[8] but eventually received a peerage.

On 19 November 2010 it was announced that he had been granted a life peerage by the Queen,[2] and he took his seat in the House of Lords as Baron Wigley, of Caernarfon in the County of Gwynedd on 24 January 2011,[9] supported by fellow Plaid peer Lord Elis-Thomas and by Richard Faulkner, Baron Faulkner of Worcester.[10] He made his maiden speech on 27 January during a debate on tourism.[11] Having been one of the first MPs to take the House of Commons oath of allegiance in the Welsh language in 1974, he took the oath of allegiance in Welsh on entering the Lords.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

He married the Welsh harpist Elinor Bennett. The couple had four children, son Hywel Wigley and daughter Eluned Wigley as well as two sons, Alun and Geraint, who died of a genetic illness. His sons' condition influenced the direction of his career, and he took a strong interest in the affairs of disabled people, being vice-chairman of the Parliamentary all-party disablement group, vice-president of Disability Wales, vice-president of Mencap (Wales), former president of the Spastics' Society of Wales and sponsor of the Disabled Persons Act in 1981. In 2003 Wigley became Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales.[13][14]


In 2008, Wigley was awarded an Honorary Chair in Business at Bangor University.[15]


  1. ^ "Plaid peer Dafydd Wigley to champion disability rights". BBC News. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Peerage for former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley". bbc.co.uk. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  3. ^ Rhys, Steffan (13 December 2010). "Wigley plans to take up his seat in the Lords". walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Wigley accepts Plaid peerage call". BBC News. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Labour sweep in with big gains". South Wales Echo. 5 May 1972. pp. 1, 6. The Welsh Nationalists... brought off a shock victory in the Park ward of Merthyr where Mr Eddie Rowlands, former chairman of the local Labour Party, was beaten into third place by Mr D. Wigley (Plaid) and Mr. Arthur Jones (Communist).
  6. ^ McAllister, L, Plaid Cymru: The Emergence of a Political Party, (2001), Seren
  7. ^ Shipton, Martin (20 November 2010). "Wigley's Lords appointment nearly three years after nomination". WalesOnline. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Dafydd Wigley withdraws Lords nomination". NorthWalesLive. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  9. ^ "No. 26895". The Edinburgh Gazette. 25 June 2011. p. 147.
  10. ^ "Introduction: Lord Wigley". UK Parliament. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Tourism", UK Parliament, 27 January 2011, retrieved 3 June 2020
  12. ^ "Plaid peer Dafydd Wigley to champion disability rights". BBC News. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  13. ^ Live, North Wales (5 December 2003). "University honour for Dafydd Wigley". North Wales Live.
  14. ^ "Plaid peer to champion disabled". BBC News. 24 January 2011 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  15. ^ "Honouring Dafydd Wigley's contribution with Business Chair". Bangor University. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Caernarfon
Feb. 19742001
Succeeded by
New office Assembly Member for Caernarfon
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President of Plaid Cymru
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Plaid Cymru
Succeeded by
New office Leader of Plaid Cymru in the National Assembly for Wales
New office Leader of the Opposition
Preceded by Honorary President of Plaid Cymru
Academic offices
Preceded by Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Wigley
Followed by
The Lord Collins of Highbury