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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK

UK Politics

The new, female power-brokers

Alun Michael will have the task of picking the new executive

With Labour returning more female Assembly Members than male, women could become the new power-brokers in Welsh politics.

Coalition talks allowing - when Labour leader Alun Michael comes to the task of choosing his cabinet he has the pick of 15 women out of a total of 28 Labour assembly members voted in last Thursday.

Leading female contenders for cabinet positions include Jane Hutt, Jane Davidson, Val Feld and Sue Essex.

In contrast to the party's Westminster contingent, which includes only four women out of a total of 40 MPs, the assembly offers the alternative of a fresh, 'feminine' style of politics.

Rhodri Morgan - who stood against Alun Michael in the Labour leadership election - and Tom Middlehurst are some of the likely male candidates for other posts in the cabinet, which will total between six and eight members.

Jane Davidson, 41, is the Head of Social Affairs at the Welsh Local Government Association and is a member of the Arts Council for Wales.

A former Cardiff councillor, she campaigned at the election on issues of health, social exclusion and education.

The experienced Sue Essex is another strong contender for a cabinet post. She has a track record in executive office having been the leader of Cardiff City Council.

She is a lecturer in planning at the University of Wales in Cardiff, she holds a range of experience as a member of the Countryside Council for Wales and campaigner on issues of local transport, local government and the environment.

Jane Hutt, aged 49, is a director of Cardiff Community Healthcare Trust, a member of the government's New Deal Taskforce and vice-chair of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

[ image: Rhodri Morgan: Returned with an increased vote]
Rhodri Morgan: Returned with an increased vote
Among the men, Rhodri Morgan gained much experience as a Westminster MP and public campaigner on Welsh issues after he became an MP in 1987.

Wales' populist choice as Labour leader following Ron Davies's "moment of madness" six months ago on Clapham Common, Mr Morgan could fulfil his potential with an influential role in the cabinet.

His controversial defeat by Mr Michael in the leadership contest has been used to explain the anti-Labour vote at the assembly elections and his inclusion in the cabinet could restore some public faith in the party.

The 59-year-old Cardiff West MP - the only Labour assembly member to increase his share of the election vote - spent five years as the party's shadow spokesman on Welsh affairs.

He is currently chairman of the House of Commons Public Administration Committee and popular among rank and file Labour members.

Tom Middlehurst, aged 62, is the leader of Flintshire County Council and chair of the Wales Local Government Association. A potentially influential voice in northern Welsh affairs in the assembly, Mr Middlehurst is also a member of the North Wales Economic Forum.

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