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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK


UK Politics

Davies: Author of his own downfall

Ron Davies: Kept Tony Blair in the dark

An assessment by Political Correspondent Nick Assinder

Ron Davies is said to be fuming that he has been left out of the first cabinet in the Welsh assembly. He must have known that a cabinet post was virtually impossible.

If he had been included in Alun Michael's top team there would have been all hell to pay.

He claims he was "disappointed" by the decision and found none of Mr Michael's explanations acceptable.

It is not known what those explanations were, but one would have been enough.

Mr Davies has still not explained exactly what he was up to on that infamous night on Clapham Common - even keeping the prime minister in the dark.

The circumstances surrounding the incident were so confused that, without a full explanation from Mr Davies, the truth will probably never be known.

That has led to any amount of speculation and one of his alleged attackers has given his version of events to a national newspaper, raising further questions about exactly what happened that night.

File open

The file remains firmly open and every time Mr Davies sticks his head over the parapet, the affair will be thrown at him.

So, he has been the author of his own political downfall and, as long as he refuses to clarify things, he will remain in exile.

The prime minister hauled him in to Downing Street at the end of last year, once the initial furore surrounding the incident had died down, and demanded to know, just between the two of them, what had actually happened.

Mr Davies again refused to tell him and Mr Blair left him in no doubt that he could expect no political comeback on that basis.

The prime minister, while publicly sympathetic, is furious about his fallen Welsh secretary's antics.

He landed the government with a major scandal, which his silence did little to damp down. When he did eventually make a statement to the Commons he only sparked more speculation and confusion by declaring: "We are what we are."

Move on

But ever since his infamous "moment of madness" on Clapham Common he has tried to put the unexplained incident behind him and move on.

He firmly believed he could make a political comeback and was relying on the Welsh to give him that opportunity, thinking he could somehow go over the head of the prime minister.

He has made some carefully stage-managed public appearances over the past couple of months. During one speech, he even suggested Mr Blair should not try and run Wales from Downing Street.

During the assembly election campaign he let it be known that if his successor as Welsh Labour leader, Alun Michael, failed to make it into the assembly - which was easily possible under the complex PR voting system - he would stand as first secretary.

That would have landed Mr Blair with the nightmare scenario of a contest between Mr Davies and rebel Rhodri Morgan.

Failing that, Mr Davies firmly believed he would be given a job in Mr Michael's first cabinet. But that was never possible.

It is surprising that Mr Davies, who is an experienced and effective political operator, believed he could make such a swift comeback.

Rightly or wrongly, he has a question mark over his character and he has angered his political masters - not even the forgiving Welsh voters can compensate for that.


Following the publication of Nick Assinder's assessment, a spokesman for Ron Davies told BBC News Online that far from thinking a cabinet post was impossible, Mr Davies had been led to understand, during a meeting with Alun Michael in December, that he would be included in the first administration.

The spokesman also said the claim that Mr Davies had been hauled in to 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair was "pure fabrication".

Mr Blair and Mr Davies, he said, had met by mutual arrangement, Mr Blair had offered Mr Davies his support for problems he had recently faced and there had been no discussion of Mr Davies's future political career at that meeting.



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