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BBC Wales's Rhuanedd Richards
"The announcement brings what has been a troublesome time for Alun Michael in the National Assembly to an end"
 real 28k

Former Welsh Assembly leader Alun Michael
"I want to do things for Wales and for my constituency"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 10:08 GMT
Michael to leave Assembly
Alun Michael
Alun Michael said he had bags of energy left
Former First Secretary Alun Michael has announced he is to stand down from the Welsh Assembly.

Mr Michael, widely seen as Prime Minister Tony Blair's man in Wales, resigned as First Secretary last month before losing a vote of no confidence called over the issue of European aid.

Mr Michael, who is both an MP and a Assembly Member, said he could best put his energy to use by carrying on at Westminster. He will stand down on 1 May.

The three other Labour MPs who are also Assembly Members - John Marek, Rhodri Morgan and Ron Davies - have been told by the party that they must chose between the two jobs.

Mr Michael said he had thought "long and hard" about staying on at the Assembly.

However, in a comment believed to be aimed at former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, he said a former leader on the back benches could have a "negative and destructive influence" on such a new institution.

Ron Davies
Ron Davies - criticised by Alun Michael
Mr Michael, who is currently MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and AM for Mid and West Wales, said he had "bags of energy left" and wanted to stay in politics for many years to come.

His constituency Labour Party unanimously asked him to stay on as its MP, a request Mr Michael said he was "deeply touched" by.

He said he would be a "passionate advocate" for devolution at Westminster and would do everything he could to ensure devolution was a success.

'No regrets'

He said he had no regrets about taking the job of Welsh Secretary or becoming the first leader of the National Assembly.

However, he said he would have liked to have stayed in the job for longer.

Mr Michael has enjoyed a successful career at Westminster. He was elected as Jim Callaghan's successor in his Cardiff seat in 1987 and immediately became an opposition whip.

He was promoted to the job of Labour's opposition spokesman on Welsh affairs before becoming Tony Blair's junior as opposition spokesman on home affairs.

Delyth Evans
Delyth Evans will automatically step in
He became a Home Office minister in 1997 working as Jack Straw's deputy.

Following the then Welsh Secretary Ron Davies's resignation after his "moment of madness" on Clapham Common in 1998, Mr Michael was appointed his successor at the Welsh Office.

However, the way he was appointed caused a split in the Welsh Labour party. His opponents claimed he had been "parachuted" in to prevent the popular Cardiff West MP Rhodri Morgan from leading Labour into the first National Assembly elections.

The Labour Party in Wales held a vote on the issue, but Mr Michael - the Prime Minister's preferred candidate - only won thanks to the use of union block votes. Rhodri Morgan was the clear winner with the grassroots members.

Damaged credibility

Mr Michael led Labour into the National Assembly elections, but the row had damaged Labour's credibility, and the party failed to win a majority, although, as the largest party, it formed the Assembly administration with Mr Michael as the First Secretary..

His tenure was troubled by the issue of European Objective One regional aid for Wales. Opposition parties accused him of not doing enough to secure the funding, and they took the issue to a no-confidence vote.

Mr Michael resigned during the debate on the motion, and Rhodri Morgan was elected his successor as First Secretary.

Because of the electoral system used for Welsh Assembly elections there will not be a by-election for Mr Michael's Assembly seat.

Instead the second candidate on Labour's list for the seat, Delyth Evans, will take over. Ms Evans, a former journalist, was a special adviser to Mr Michael when he was First Secretary.

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See also:

16 Mar 00 | Wales
Alun was right to go - Morgan
18 Feb 00 | Wales
Michael undecided on future
15 Feb 00 | Wales
Morgan leads Welsh Assembly
08 Feb 00 | Wales
Welsh first secretary quits
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