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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Morgan hints at 'no deal' assembly
Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan saw a string of wins for Labour, losing only Wrexham

Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan has given a clear indication that his party will govern Wales alone - despite being one seat short of a majority.

Labour had a triumphant night in the Welsh assembly election, taking 30 of the 60 seats available.

There has been much speculation about whether Mr Morgan would revert to the coalition arrangement with the Liberal Democrats or whether Labour would go it alone.

Speaking on Radio Wales on Friday, Mr Morgan gave his clearest indication yet that the latter would be the case.

Dead heat

"I am not proposing to talk to any other party, and we don't have any plans to do that, " he told Good Morning Wales.

"This is not about, 'Do I talk to the Liberal Democrats?', it is about how to deliver Labour's programme," he added.

Vote 2003: the final score
Labour: 30
Plaid Cymru: 12
Conservatives: 11
Liberal Democrats: 6
Independent: 1

"The position is a far stronger one for Labour than in the past assembly because of that critical difference between being four seats behind and this dead heat.

"We are in a far better position than we were in 1999, when we had a deficit of four seats."

Asked if the possibility of a coalition had therefore been ruled out, he replied : "Nothing is ruled in or ruled out at this stage."

However, fears about a low turnout were realised, with only 38% going to the polls, down 8% from four years ago. In one seat it was just 25%.

The final total was Labour 30 seats, Plaid Cymru 12, Conservatives 11, Liberal Democrats six, and one independent.

Gloss

Labour won 28 seats in 1999, and tried going it alone for the first 18 months of the administration. But in autumn 2000 it formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the smallest party in the assembly with six seats.

The failure to secure an absolute majority has taken a little of the gloss off a night of almost continuous success for Labour.

Dr John Marek
John Marek : blow for his old party

Labour won three south Wales "heartland" seats from Plaid: Islwyn, Rhondda and - after a recount - Llanelli, with a majority of just 21.

The party took a fourth seat from Plaid when Denise Idris-Jones won the crucial north Wales seat of Conwy with a majority of only 72 after two recounts.

But when the final regional list was announced in Mid and West Wales, Labour failed to gain a seat. That meant that Labour won 30 first-past-the-post constituencies and none on the regional list.

'Fantasy buried'

The big loser was undoubtedly Plaid Cymru.

When the polls opened at on Thursday they had 17 members, but by Friday they were down to just 12. Party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones defended his leadership, despite a disappointing performance which saw four seats lost to Labour.

Speaking to BBC Wales, he admitted the results could have gone better, but says things would improve for Plaid in the future.

"It has been a disappointing night for us," Mr Jones said.

"What we have got to remember is that Plaid Cymru has not really been in frontline politics for very long - we achieved that in 1999. It's been a difficult transition for us.

"Although this has been a disappointing night, I am sure we can use this as a springboard for improvements in the future."

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said: "It is a fantastic result for Labour. This is a terrible night for the nationalists.

"Their fantasy of an independent Wales has been buried forever and they are barely neck-and-neck with the Tories.

"We won three-quarters of the constituency seats which by normal general election standards would be a landslide. This is the best result for Labour in the elections anywhere in Britain."

Plaid had another setback when it lost one of its two regional list seats in South Wales East. The Lib Dems won one seat here, and the Conservatives two - including their first woman AM, 24-year-old Laura Anne Jones.

Vote counting
Votes were counted through the night

The only independent AM was the former Labour member, John Marek. He delivered his old party its only blow when he won Wrexham against the official Labour candidate.

Dr Marek, who was the assembly's deputy presiding officer, failed to be selected as a Labour candidate, and stood under the banner of his own party.

He won Wrexham with 37% of the vote, against 32% for Lesley Griffiths, his former secretary who was chosen by Labour to stand in his place.

A total of 6,539 votes were cast for him, giving him a majority of almost 1,000.

'Confidence'

"I think I have been of service to Wrexham people and Wrexham people have shown their confidence in me," he said.

"The decision was should I be rolled over and simply go or should I fight this disgraceful campaign and I decided to do the latter and as it turns out the public have supported me."

Elsewhere, Labour won the three south Wales seats of Islwyn, Llanelli and Rhondda so surprisingly taken by Plaid four years ago. In the north, Labour also snatched Conwy from Plaid.

Labour was also delighted when Alun Pugh won Clwyd West with a 436 majority over the Conservative Brynle Williams - although Mr Williams still became an AM via the regional list.

The Liberal Democrats retained Montgomeryshire, Cardiff Central and Brecon and Radnorshire, and three list seats.

Plaid retained Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Ceredigion, Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones's Ynys Mon seat.




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The BBC's Wyre Davies
"It was a tight squeeze for Labour"



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SEE ALSO:
Welsh Labour's night of joy
02 May 03  |  Wales
Blair postpones NI elections
01 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
New faces gain as Labour lose seats
02 May 03  |  Scotland
Vote 2003 at-a-glance
02 May 03  |  Politics
Non-voters are the majority
02 May 03  |  Politics



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