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Saturday, October 31, 1998 Published at 12:41 GMT

UK Politics

Blair told: Back off on Davies successor

Labour in Wales is trying to find a successor to Mr Davies

A senior Welsh Labour MP has warned Tony Blair against "parachuting" in Secretary of State Alun Michael as the party's leader in Wales to replace Ron Davies.

Former Welsh Secretary Mr Davies, 52, resigned as minister and party leader after being robbed at knifepoint in south London on Monday night.

[ image: Ron Davies:
Ron Davies: "Moment of madness"
He claimed he had made a "grievous error of judgement" in the incident in which he met a stranger on Clapham Common.

The warning to Mr Blair came as Donald Fearon, 38, appeared before Camberwell Green Magistrates Court in south London, charged with stealing the MP's car and its contents.

He was remanded in custody and will next appear in court on 16 November.

The Welsh party executive will now meet on Monday to begin the process of finding a leader to head the new Welsh Assembly.

Donald Anderson: We must go through the democratic process
The senior labour backbencher, and MP for Swansea East, Donald Anderson, said party leaders in London should tread carefully.

He told the BBC: "There would be enormous resentment in Wales if someone were to be parachuted in.

[ image: Alun Michael: Contender]
Alun Michael: Contender
"Democratic processes must be gone through, even if it is in a fairly truncated way."

He said Mr Michael, who replaced Ron Davies, would be a "strong candidate" if he chose to stand but others should be allowed to put their names forward too.

And he admitted Rhodri Morgan - the MP for Cardiff West who lost to Mr Davies in a bitter internal party poll earlier this year - would be the popular choice of Welsh party activists.

Don Touhig: There are no ground rules for this
Don Touhig, the MP for Islwyn, said he and other members of the party executive were entering unchartered territory.

He said: "I don't anticipate on Monday that we will come up with a magic formula.

"There are no ground rules for this, so we are really having to make it up as we go along."

Don Touhig: Ron Davies has "considerable achievements" to his name
Earlier this week Mr Davies received the unanimous backing of the executive.

At a private meeting in Ystrad Mynach, members voted to give Mr Davies their full support as their constituency MP for Caerphilly and as a candidate for the National Assembly.

Wales Correspondent Wyre Davies: The first piece of good news this week for Ron Davies
Mr Davies faced the cameras on Friday to repeat his denial that the incident which led to his resignation was in any way linked to sex or drugs.

In an interview, he said: "It was a moment of madness for which I have subsequently paid a very, very heavy price and I am deeply sorry. I bitterly regret it."

A copy of a letter written by him to party members was later released to the media.

Wales Correspondent Wyre Davies reports on a ray of light for Ron Davies
In it, Mr Davies says: "These last few days have been torture for us as a family.

"The pain has not been helped by the lurid and inaccurate media reports and the allegations about me which have continued unabated.

"I want to emphasise to you very strongly that I was involved in nothing improper or nothing illegal. My actions had nothing to do with sex or drugs."

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