Snap, crackle and pop taunt for 'bully' Andrews

11th March 2011 at 00:00

Education minister Leighton Andrews has been branded a "bully" in an ongoing row over free school breakfasts.

The accusation was made by his Conservative counterpart Paul Davies after the minister's comments in an interview with BBC Wales at last month's Welsh Labour Party Conference in Llandudno.

Mr Andrews called the interviewer a "disgrace to the BBC" for suggesting the Assembly government's free school breakfasts scheme was giving "Coco Pops to kids" and said he objected to the "snooty, middle class attack".

Although around 1,000 primary schools are involved in the popular scheme, the Conservatives have accused the Government of "frittering" money away on a "gimmick".

Speaking at his party's spring conference in Cardiff last weekend, Mr Davies said: "No matter how much the education minister snaps, crackles and pops about it - and, oh boy, can he snap, we saw that at the Welsh Labour party conference - he may bully the media, he may bully the BBC and he may bully individual interviewers, but this politician and this party will not be bullied."

He added: "Let's send a message loud and clear - we will not tolerate bullying in the classroom and we will not tolerate bullying from Labour and Plaid ministers."

Mr Andrews has gained a reputation for straight-talking since being appointed to Carwyn Jones's cabinet in December 2009.

But while his no-nonsense attitude has struck a chord with many educationalists, others have been less impressed with the minister's personality, privately accusing him of being rude, abrasive and a bully.

A spokesman for Welsh Labour called Paul Davies' remarks "farcical even by Welsh Tory standards".

He added: "If there was a Tory government in Wales, Paul Davies would be implementing their 20 per cent cuts pledge to schools budgets. Mercifully, the people of Wales will not go down that road on 5 May and the Tories will again be toast."

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