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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 20:31 GMT
Who follows after Rhodri Morgan?
By Adrian Browne
BBC Wales political reporter

Rhodri Morgan
The list of potential successors to Rhodri Morgan is very long

Whatever the outcome of May's Welsh assembly elections, there is one prediction I can safely make.

I'll break it to you gently, just in case you hadn't heard.

Rhodri Morgan won't be first minister after mid-2009.

Obviously, if other parties are running the assembly government without Labour after May he'll be out of the job anyway.

If Labour loses seats, but does a deal with opposition parties to keep power then the other parties may have the upper hand in decision-making about who gets the top post.

The runners and riders list reads like the Grand National

And, whatever maths those ballot boxes produce, if Mr Morgan is getting the message from the man or woman on the local bendy bus that it is time for a new broom, he may well take the hint.

If Labour wins a really good majority, and he is the master of all before him, he has already said he hopes to step down around the middle of 2009 anyway.

'Too democratic'

So, as well as probably coping with another one of those hottest/wettest summers on record that we get every year or two these days, we should have a new first minister.

The UK labour leadership contest gives us the spectacle of Gordon Brown waiting for the prime minister's job like the cat who's already got the cream.

While the anointing of Mr Brown without a truly meaningful election might raise one or two democratic issues for some, the scenario for Welsh Labour could be in danger of being too democratic.

Jane Davidson, Welsh education minister
Jane Davidson is a potential front runner

No-one can be too sure who will be the new Welsh Labour leader and - should Labour be in power in Cardiff Bay - first minister in a couple of years' time.

The runners and riders list reads like the Grand National.

There is Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones, long-regarded as a safe pair of hands.

He handles media interviews well in Welsh and English and demonstrated his leadership skills during the foot and mouth crisis.

He could be a little too slick for some in Labour, though.

So might another media savvy Labour AM, Leighton Andrews, also consider throwing his hat in the ring?

Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart is well respected and hard working.

But her remarkable knack of avoiding radio or television interviews might not be considered an advantage in today's media world. Outside Cuba that is.

Then there is the generally unflappable and highly talkative Education Minister Jane Davidson.

Yet her sometimes head mistress-like demeanour and use of jargon may be unpalatable for some.

Wide open

At risk of being accused of simply running through the whole cabinet, I must not forget Andrew Davies.

He has a steely look about him, but is this particular grey suit really the one to inspire the electorate of Wales?

And finally, there is Merthyr AM Huw Lewis.

He has good contacts with Welsh Labour's grassroots, but is seen by some as a tribal politician who would struggle to reach beyond the party's base.

I'll leave it there, I think I've made the point.

The race to replace Rhodri Morgan is wide open.

I wonder what Alun Michael is doing in August '09?




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