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EDITIONS
Welsh Labour leadership contest Monday, 15 February, 1999, 17:24 GMT
Michael appeals for support
Alun Michael
Alun Michael: "A moment of truth"
Welsh Secretary Alun Michael has appealed to Labour members to support him in his bid to become the party's leader in Wales.

Welsh labour leadership contest
Mr Michael said the ballot in which the party's 25,000 members in the prinicpality will choose between him or fellow MP Rhodri Morgan would be "a moment of truth for Labour and for Wales".

"The choice you make will matter not just for a day, but is important for the long-term future of the Labour party and of Wales," he said.

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan: Left-wing of the party
Mr Michael - the preferred choice of Prime Minister Tony Blair - made his plea in a keynote speech to party members in Cardiff only days before ballot papers are due to be posted in the contest.

The final result will be declared by an electoral college on 20 February after MPs, Welsh Assembly candidates and unions have also had a say.

Whoever wins would also become the First Secretary in the Welsh Assembly if Labour wins control of the new body in elections later this year.

Ministerial experience

Mr Michael claimed the party members' ballot was an opportunity to "reclaim your vote" and back his leadership which had already been proved through ministerial experience.

Blair and Michael
Tony Blair shows his support for Mr Michael
"I call upon party members to think carefully of the choice before them. This is your decision. It is not for the one or two anti-Labour newspapers who have come out as partisan propagandists in this contest to tell you how to vote."

He added: "Leading Wales is about making sound policy judgements, not taking potshots.

"The leader must have the trust of all the partners needed to make Wales succeed - local government, business, the trade unions, the voluntary sector. I believe I have the confidence of all those sectors to be a successful leader."

Michael defends commitment

Mr Michael also hit back at critics who have questioned his commitment to devolution and his late entry into the race against Mr Morgan after the resignation of former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies last year.

"I am passionate about making the National Assembly work and to serve the people of Wales. Devolution is something I have supported all my political life," he insisted.

In an apparent swipe at his opponent, Mr Michael also claimed his style of persuasion and firm negotiation was more likely to get results than "confrontation and megaphone diplomacy".

See also:

16 Jan 99 | UK Politics
15 Feb 99 | UK Politics
15 Feb 99 | UK Politics
22 Jan 99 | UK Politics
27 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Links to more Welsh Labour leadership contest stories are at the foot of the page.


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