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EDITIONS
Welsh Labour leadership contest Monday, 15 February, 1999, 17:25 GMT
Michael: I won't drop out if I lose
Alun Michael
Alun Michael: "I would have stood for the 1979 assembly"
Welsh Secretary Alun Michael has confirmed he will stand in the elections for the Welsh Assembly - even if he loses the election to be party leader in Wales.

Welsh labour leadership contest
Mr Michael, who replaced Ron Davies at the Welsh Office following his resignation last year, also hopes to succeed Mr Davies as Labour's candidate to become Labour's leader in the assembly and its first secretary.

Mr Michael is standing against left-wing backbencher Rhodri Morgan to lead the party in the National Assembly for Wales.

'I shall stand'

In an interview with BBC News Online, he denied allegations he had been "parachuted" into the leadership contest and reaffirmed his commitment to the assembly.

Mr Michael said: "I shall be standing in the assembly elections for May, I've made that quite clear."

In a separate interview with BBC News Online, backbench challenger Mr Morgan said he doubted Mr Michael would stay the course unless he was leader of the Labour group in the Welsh Assembly.

Morgan
Rhodri Morgan: "Alun Michael is only interested in being leader"
Mr Morgan said: "My own suspicion is that Alun Michael will not stand if he's not leader.

"My guess is that he only wants to be leader and will not stand if he's not leader and will withdraw from the race."

But Mr Michael denied he would "duck out" at the last minute unless successful in the leadership contest.

He said: "It's not true and I can't understand where the impression could have come from, unless from one or two of Rhodri Morgan's supporters.

"I've been absolutely clear on it, and everybody who supports me knows what I'm committed to."

Mr Michael said it had been his decision to stand to lead Labour in the assembly and he was enjoying the leadership contest.

He said he had fought for devolution for the past three decades and would have stood for the assembly in 1979 if the previous campaign had been successful.

He said: "Had we had an assembly in 1979, if that referendum had been won by a Yes vote, my political career would have been very different."

Hurtful allegations

Mr Michael denied Downing Street interference in the contest, saying: "Of course I'm pleased to have his [Tony Blair's] support.

"But as I've made clear and he's made clear, this is a decision that is made in Wales.

"He doesn't have a vote in the election of the Labour Party in Wales and the assembly and nor does anyone outside Wales. It is people who in Wales who will be taking that decision."

Mr Michael said there had been a backlash against the centre of the party cause by anger by electoral systems used in Wales, including the one to choose the party's leader in the contest Mr Davies won in September.

He said: "That is the way people's feelings came in something of a wave in November which was hurtful to me.

"It was based on a lot of untruths dependent on a curious idea I had been parachuted in whereas I've been absolutely rooted in Welsh politics all my political life for 30 years."

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Alun Michael: "I shall be standing"
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Alun Michael: "Everybody who supports me knows what I'm committed to"
See also:

15 Feb 99 | UK Politics
15 Jan 99 | UK Politics
16 Jan 99 | UK Politics
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