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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 22:31 GMT
Lecturer picked to fight election
Russell Goodway, Cardiff Lord Mayor and Ogmore hopeful
Russell Goodway hoped to further political ambitions
Members of the Labour party in Ogmore have chosen lecturer Huw Irranca-Davies to fight the forthcoming parliamentary by-election.

The Swansea Institute lecturer, aged 38, was said to have won the hustings vote on Wednesday night "comfortably."

In a surprise result, he defeated Cardiff Lord Mayor Russell Goodway, former Neil Kinnock adviser Jan Royall and social security officer Margaret Frayne in the vote at Bryntirion Social Club, where around 200 members turned out.

Huw Irranca-Davies
The Conservative party also chose former Plaid Cymru chairman Guto Bebb on Wednesday.

Plaid has already selected Bleddyn Hancock and the Liberal Democrats are due to decide between Victoria Watkins and Gavin Cox on Friday.

In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Irranca-Davies revealed his unusual surname includes the family name of his wife who hails from a Sardinian background.

He came third when contesting Brecon and Radnorshire at the 2001 General Election and will have a huge advantage in his election bid.

At the 2001 General Election, Sir Ray, who had represented his local constituency for 20 years, netted a 14,574 majority (64.2%) for the party, which has held the seat since its creation in 1918.

Despite a 9.5% swing toward Plaid Cymru in 2001, few are forecasting Labour could lose Ogmore.

Runners and riders

Forty hopefuls had applied for inclusion on the party's shortlist, but just four made the grade.

There has been speculation the by-election will take place on 7 February.

Having made the shortlist, Russell Goodway was hoping to secure the right to fight for the seat after he failed to be selected as John Morris' successor in the neighbouring Aberavon constituency in April 2000.

Sir Ray Powell
Sir Ray Powell had represented the people of Ogmore for two decades

It was thought a controversial allowances increase for the Cardiff County Council leader damaged his chances.

His second failure to secure a nomination for a Westminster seat could come as a blow to his political ambitions.

Margaret Frayne, chairwoman of the Aberavon constituency, succeeded in making the shortlist there in 2000.

But she had been the bookies' longshot for the selection in Ogmore, where she had hoped to mount a new election bid.

Jan Royall, a European Commission strategist and an aide to Neil Kinnock, joined Mr Goodway as the favourite, but fell to Mr Irranca-Davies.

Editor selection

Earlier on Wednesday, a Labour party insider told BBC News Online many in the party believed the lecturer would be picked ahead of the trio.

And, he said, there was "no sympathy" in the party for Labour's Tribune publication editor Mark Seddon, who failed to make the shortlist for the hustings selection at Ogmore.

Mr Seddon admitted he had no local connections with the area but claimed he represented an important strand of Labour thinking.

"The tradition I come from within the party is actually very popular in a constituency such as Ogmore - the Tribune, Michael Foot, Aneurin Bevan tradition," he said.

"Bevan once said that a thinking person is a dangerous person - I can't help feel that what they're saying is you've got to toe the line 100% or you're not welcome."

The Conservative candidate, Guto Bebb, was chair of Plaid Cymru in the Caernarfon constituency until he defected in a clash of views over the euro.

BBC Wales's Rhuanedd Richards
"At least I had a go."
See also:

17 Dec 01 | Wales
Funeral for veteran MP Sir Ray
08 Dec 01 | Wales
Tributes to 'valued ally'
09 Dec 01 | Wales
Veteran Labour MP dies
30 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Welsh Labour old guard fights on
23 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Labour victory in Ipswich by-election
19 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Death of the by-election?
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