Ron Davies quits Labour party

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Former cabinet minister Ron Davies, who resigned as Welsh Secretary after his "moment of madness" on Clapham Common, has quit the Labour Party, he revealed yesterday.

Mr Davies, an increasingly vociferous critic of the party since standing down as a member of the Welsh Assembly last May, said Labour "wasn't performing" and Welsh politics was "in a mess".

Mr Davies, 57, who has been an active Labour Party member for nearly 40 years, said: "There's been a growing realisation on my part over the last couple of years that, on a Wales and UK level, the party has drifted away from the basic commitment to reducing inequality." The former Welsh secretary added that the gap between rich and poor was greater than it had been in 1997.

"You never have 100 per cent agreement with the party; there are some things that you disagree with. But it's moved so far to the right that balance has changed," he said.

Mr Davies, who has been married three times, was due to defend his Caerphilly seat in last May's Assembly poll but stood aside after allegations he had been engaged in sexual activity with another man at a beauty spot in Wiltshire. Previously, he resigned as Welsh Secretary after his "moment of madness" on London's Clapham Common in 1998, dashing his hopes of becoming the first leader of the Welsh Assembly. He was robbed after agreeing to go for a meal with a stranger he met on the common.

A spokeswoman for the Wales Labour Party said: "The Labour Party is working to improve people's wealth, health and education. It's sad that Ron Davies has chosen to turn his back on the party which has given him so much at all levels of politics."