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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK

Special Report

Alun Michael's inevitable exit

Alun Michael: Chose Cardiff over Westminster

Alun Michael's departure from the job of Welsh Secretary was always a case of when, not if.

He had promised to give up his Cabinet post after a transitional period once he became First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales in May this year.

And on Monday this week he announced that he would stand down as MP for Cardiff South and Penarth at the next general election to concentrate on the assembly.

He said: "Having thrown all my energy into the birth of the assembly, I shall work just as hard for its long-term success.

"To me, leading the assembly means ensuring that it makes a real difference on the issues that matter to all the people of Wales."

[ image: Ron Davies: His resignation led to Mr Michael's appointment as Welsh Secretary]
Ron Davies: His resignation led to Mr Michael's appointment as Welsh Secretary
Mr Michael's nine-month tenure as Welsh Secretary followed the resignation of Ron Davies after his mysterious "moment of madness" on Clapham Common.

In addition, Mr Michael controversially became leader of the Labour Party in Wales - a position also vacated by Mr Davies.

Mr Michael, a Blairite loyalist, was elected on the strength of union block-votes even though more party members preferred his left-wing rival MP Rhodri Morgan.

As the assembly's first secretary, or quasi-prime minister, he leads the largest group in the new body.

However, the Labour group lacks an overall majority and Mr Michael has chosen to try to govern without a coalition partner.

Paul Murphy, his replacement in the Cabinet is a Welsh MP with strong family ties to Wales.

However, as a result of devolution he will wield only a fraction of the powers which Mr Michael inherited when he took up the job last year.

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