Thursday, November 19, 1998 Published at 18:05 GMT
February D-Day for Wales
Candidates face a three-month race
Labour's election battle in Wales to choose a new leader to take the party into the assembly elections next year will be held on 20 February.
The contest between Welsh Secretary Alun Michael and backbencher Rhodri Morgan was sparked by the resignation of the former Welsh secretary Ron Davies after a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common, South London.
The three-month delay is to allow a one-member-one-vote ballot to take place in constituencies throughout Wales, but is thought to favour Mr Michael.
Another third is made up from the trade unions, with Welsh MPs, Euro-MPs and assembly candidates making up the final third.
Mr Michael is Prime Minister Tony Blair's preferred choice to stand as Labour candidate to become first secretary of Wales.
The current front runner in the party race, Mr Morgan is not seen as a safe pair of hands by Labour bosses.
Westminster insiders point out that despite the Blair government's attempts to distance itself from the unions it will be relying on them to deliver the election for Mr Michael.
Mr Michael responded to the news, saying: "I have made it very clear that I thought it was of paramount importance that all party members be given a vote.
"I also think that the general approach is sensible since the Labour party in Wales is a family in which the trade unions, the Co-operative party and others also have a stake.
"I have said from the beginning that I would accept and abide by any arrangements and requirements decided upon by the Wales Labour party for the conduct of the election and that remains my position."
Earlier this week, Welsh Labour MPs said they wanted the taskforce to select an electoral college allowing constituency parties to ballot all their members.
The contest is set to go ahead despite the hopes of the leadership that Mr Morgan would stand aside and let Mr Michael become Labour's Welsh leader unopposed.
Swansea-based businessman and lawyer Roger Warren Evans has also thrown his hat into the ring, saying he would be the party's "rank and file" representative.
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