Mark Drakeford on being First Minister, his fashion and the future

He's been at the heart of Welsh politics for decades, but in the past 16 months Mark Drakeford has become one of the most recognisable faces in Wales. But what's it like to be the First Minister, balancing running the country with tackling a global pandemic?

“I always feel nervous before doing any interview”, Mark Drakeford says.

“You’re only as good as your last one in this business. You could say something foolish in any interview.”

Mark Drakeford has been the First Minister of Wales since December 2018

ITV Wales's Sharp End programme has spent the last few weeks following the FM as he oversees the latest round of Covid restrictions relaxing and publishing his programme for government.

When asked about his “rare quality” as a politician of actually trying to answer the question, he said it was down to his former career, working as a university lecturer.

“I honestly think it’s because of the years I spent teaching at university where the idea is that you do try and answer the questions that you’re asked, so I’ve got into that bad habit.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, isn't it. If you’re asked a question, you do your best to answer it rather than provide an answer that's nothing to do with it.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford preparing for FMQs in his office in Cardiff Bay. Credit: ITV Wales

He's been First Minister since 2018 and is on record as saying he wouldn't stay in the role for the whole of this five-year Senedd term, but he's also revealed that May's election was his last. When asked if he'd miss being FM, he said:

"Inevitably I suppose, it's a long way off so I'm not thinking about whether I'll miss it yet. This sort of job like this, it's like being on an escalator, you're moving all the time, there's always something going on. So you know when you get off the escalator, you are going to miss it aren't you."

And asked if standing down as FM meant leaving the Senedd he said: "I don't plan to stand again for election in Cardiff West."

For someone whose work uniform is a suit, Mr Drakeford is not a fan of ties, taking them off after interviews only to put it back on again for the next one. And considering on Covid regulations reviews day he has around 16 interviews, that's a lot of tie removal.

Another thing he's not a fan of is social media. Although the First Minister has a presence online, he doesn't post anything himself and has no personal accounts.

The First Minister doesn't have his own personal social media accounts

He says this is down to his busy schedule and his belief that social media does not tell the whole story about what’s going on in the country.

“It’s a whole world out there which if you get drawn into it, I could spend all day everyday on it, where actually, all day, everyday I’m busy doing other things”, he said.

“On the whole I don’t think it gives you a rounded reflection of what people in Wales are thinking and saying.”

Online abuse is another factor in the First Minister's decision not have to have social media accounts.

“There have been times along the journey where we have made difficult decisions which sometimes have been hard for people to see why they have been necessary”, he said.

“There have been times where people have been angry and not everybody is careful about the way they express it.

“I do my best not to read any of it. That’s my defence - I don’t spend my day reading the comments section on social media because I don’t think it would be good for my welfare.”

You can watch the full programme and learn more about the First Minister and his role here.