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BBC Wales's Penny Roberts
"In Alyn and Deeside any election will be fought without Barry Jones"
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Sunday, 18 February, 2001, 18:03 GMT
Stop parachuting candidates, says MP
John Marek, MP, Barry JonesMP and Tony Blair graphic
John Marek(l) said Barry Jones' retirement was a local issue
A Welsh MP has warned Labour against "parachuting " candidates into Wales for the General Election.

John Marek, who is both MP and AM for Wrexham, made his comments after the announcement of Friday by Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones that he was to retire at the election after more than 30 years at Westminster.

Tony Blair wants a quite life in the House of Commons. He wants Blairite poodles who will do what he says

John Marek
Dr Marek said the announcement so close to the expected spring poll means the shortlist for his replacement as candidate will be drawn up by Labour party executives in London and Cardiff rather than members of the local Alyn and Deeside party.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Dr Marek said Barry Jones appeared to have delayed the announcement that he was stepping down after consultations with the Prime Minister.

The timing would mean the shortlist for a candidate to replace the Alyn and Deeside MP would have to be decided by the party nationally in Wales and at Millbank, he said.

Labour's leader in the Commons, Margaret Beckett, dismissed the claims as "quite outrageous."

"The local people must be able to decide who they want as their candidate," said Dr Marek.

"Tony Blair wants a quite life in the House of Commons. He wants Blairite poodles who will do what he says," said the MP.

While praising the reforms carried out of the House of Lords, Dr Marek also accused the government of trying to fill it with "croneys" - people of the Prime Minister's of the day's choice.

Alun Michael MP
Alun Michael MP: 'Parachuted ' in to Welsh Assembly

It follows the controversy over the selection of a Welsh Labour leader in the National Assembly's formation.

Then Millbank was accused of "parachuting" in the former Home Office minister Alun Michael as a candidate favoured by the government against the Welsh party's favourite, Rhodri Morgan.

"They tried Alun Michael and how long did that last - nine months," said Dr Marek.

It also comes in the wake of Ken Livingstone's successful bid last year to lead the London Assembly - winning the vote against Frank Dobson, the former health secretary who was Tony Blair's choice for the job.

But the chair of the Wales Labour Party Jean Brady rejected Dr Marek's accusations.

She said the selection of a Labour candidate to replace Barry Jones would be "transparent and open".

"The NEC and Welsh Executive can put forward people who they like but it will be party members in Alyn and Deeside who decide," she said.

Margaret Beckett, the Labour leader in the House of Commons, also dismissed the claims as "quite outrageous", adding the selection of candidates was carried out by a democratic process agreed by the party.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Wales
MP to stand down at election
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Labour backs candidate reforms
15 Feb 99 | Welsh Labour leadership contest
Blair back in Wales, backing Michael
03 Nov 98 | UK Politics
Welsh MPs want say on leader decision
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