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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 16:47 GMT


UK Politics

Morgan remains ahead in Welsh race

Rhodri Morgan: Retains constituency backing

Leftwing backbench MP Rhodri Morgan is holding on to his early lead in the race to become Welsh Labour leader.


Rhodri Morgan and Peter Hain give their reaction to the figures
Tony Blair's favourite - Welsh Secretary Alun Michael - is still trailing, with less than half his rivals support among party members.

Nominations have now closed in the election race, the winner of which is likely to go on to become first secretary in the National Assembly for Wales.


[ image: Alun Michael: Campaign gathering momentum, supporters say]
Alun Michael: Campaign gathering momentum, supporters say
The Welsh secretary has greater support among Labour MPs, MEPs and trade unions, but lags behind in other key areas of the electoral college.

Mr Morgan welcomed the nomination results, saying they showed he was the man to unite the party.

"I was the people's choice in the immediate aftermath of Ron Davies' sudden, tragic resignation and six weeks later I'm still the people's choice, that's absolutely clear," he said.

"I think people are persuaded that if I'm leader we'll get a much better chance of an outright majority on May the 6th than if I'm not leader."


[ image:  ]
A one-member-one-vote postal ballot of Welsh Labour members will in part determine which man leads the party in the assembly elections.

This could reflect the nominations at Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) level. Only eight CLPs backed Mr Michael, in contrast to 20 for Mr Morgan.

A greater number of approved Labour assembly candidates also favour Mr Morgan - 57 nominated him, while only 32 supported Mr Michael.

But the Welsh secretary received seven nominations from affiliated bodies - mainly trade unions - one more than his rival.

So far, five unions, including the public sector union Unison, have promised to ballot all its members before casting its vote. The support of the other unions could prove vital for Mr Michael.

His deputy at the Welsh Office, Peter Hain, said the latest figures were good news for the Michael campaign.


[ image: The resignation of Ron Davies re-opened the leadership battle]
The resignation of Ron Davies re-opened the leadership battle
"They demonstrate that Alun is catching him up and has now got the momentum with him," he said.

"I think we stand a very good chance of outright support among the ordinary members of the party in Wales who will want to back their secretary of state."

No-one else received sufficient nominations to qualify in the race to become Labour's Welsh leader, meaning the businessman Roger Warren Evans has had to stand down.

A series of hustings meetings will now take place with both candidates throughout Wales and the result of the postal ballot will be announced on 20 February.



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