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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
All-women list apology rejected
Peter Law
Peter Law defeated Labour's Maggie Jones in Blaenau Gwent
A Labour apology for imposing an all-women shortlist in Blaenau Gwent at the 2005 election has been rejected by the late MP Peter Law's former agent.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said while an all-woman list was an honourable objective, Labour "got it wrong".

But Dai Davies, who is now spokesman for the People's Voice group, said it was "too little too late".

Labour has picked Owen Smith, a former adviser to ex-Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, as its parliamentary candidate.

Mr Law, who died last month after a brain tumour, stood as an independent, winning Labour's safest Welsh seat.

Mr Davies said: "It's very good of them after 12 months that they feel they should apologise.

"Why didn't they apologise before?

"We stood up against something that we knew was wrong and we spoke for the people of Blaenau Gwent.

Peter Hain
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain issued the apology on behalf of Labour

"The people who are apologising now are showing crocodile tears just to give them a better chance of winning."

Mr Law, who was also an AM, overturned Labour's 19,000 majority in defeating Maggie Jones at the general election. His decision to stand also meant he was expelled by Labour, which cost the party its working majority in the Welsh assembly.

Mr Hain told BBC Wales' Politics Show: "I'm saying sorry to them (people in Blaenau Gwent). We got it wrong last time.

"We sought to present a choice of women only and we overrode local party wishes and the wishes of the people of Blaenau Gwent.

"The first law of politics is you listen to the people."

While stopping short of declaring an amnesty, Mr Hain said there was no reason why those who had been expelled for supporting Mr Law could not return to Labour.

But Mr Davies reacted by saying: "They couldn't care less about Blaenau Gwent.

"They are just trying to mitigate for the damage they caused not only at a local level, but at national level.

"The antics of party politics is driving people away from politics," he added.

Party selection

Parties contesting both Blaenau Gwent seats have begun the process of selecting their candidates.

John Hopkins will be the Labour candidate for the assembly seat, and the party chose Owen Smith as its parliamentary candidate from a shortlist of seven on Monday night.

Mr Smith was a special adviser to former Welsh and Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, MP for neighbouring Torfaen, when he was in the cabinet, and is a former BBC producer who now works for a pharmaceutical company.

The Liberal Democrats have chosen Amy Kitcher to fight the parliamentary seat with Abertillery councillor Steve Bard contesting the assembly.

Conservatives and Plaid Cymru are expected to confirm their candidates by the end of the week.

The Blaenau Gwent People's Voice group is expected next week to endorse candidates who will stand as independents.


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