Wednesday, December 2, 1998 Published at 15:31 GMT
Union ballot boost for Morgan
Rhodri Morgan: Welcomed the union's decision
Rhodri Morgan's chances of winning the race to be Labour's new Welsh leader have received a boost from Unison, the public services union, which confirmed it would ballot its 60,000 members on the contest.
Mr Morgan, the MP for Cardiff West, quickly welcomed the decision.
Unison is the biggest union in Wales to back a ballot rather than merely "consult' its membership and then cast a block vote in the forthcoming contest between Mr Morgan and new Welsh Secretary Alun Michael.
Mr Michael has the backing of Tony Blair, whereas Mr Morgan - the front-runner - is seen as the grassroots choice.
Mr Morgan said: "Unison members will be able to compare and contrast Alun Michael's leadership with my own."
Under Labour Party rules, unions and other affiliated organisations have a third of the votes in the electoral college to be held in February to choose Labour candidate for First Secretary of the Welsh Assembly - Wales's first "prime minister".
Constituency parties and MPs and selected assembly candidates make up the other two voting sections.
Two other unions, the Manufacturing, Science and Finance (MSF) and the National Union of Mineworkers, have also indicated they will also hold their own ballot.
Announcing the ballot move, Derek Gregory, Welsh regional secretary of Unison, said the union was responding to calls from members.
"It's a decision of principle, based on the feelings of our members. We have to take into account what our members and branches are saying to us," he said.
"If representative democracy is good for the House of Commons, it's also good for the trade unions. We want our members to participate in this important decision".
'No threat to Alun'
"He was a councillor for many years; he worked in the voluntary sector and knows a great many people in Unison," said Mr Touhig in a BBC Radio Wales interview.
"Each candidate will have a chance to put their policies and proposals before the rank and file of the party, the trades unions and others.
"Then they will judge and I think they will make the right decision in the end - it will be Alun Michael".
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