Britain Votes: David denies leader gamble

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WAYNE DAVID was seen on Monday "eyeing up the odds" at his constituency betting shop on his chances of becoming leader of the Welsh Assembly.

While the Labour Party leadership denied that it had any contingency plans to put the Euro MP's name forward for First Secretary if Alun Michael, the Welsh Secretary, failed to win a seat, Mr David clearly showed an interest in how the betting was going. Indeed, a colleague with Mr David asked for the odds on his friend, but did not place a bet.

Next day someone put a pounds 200 bet on Mr David becoming leader of the assembly at the same betting shop, a branch of Jack Brown bookmakers at Tynewydd, near Treorchy, Mid Glamorgan. An hour later, at another of Jack Brown's shops another bet, this time for pounds 250 was placed on Mr David.

The bets were placed on Tuesday, the same day that The Independent was told by senior party sources that there was a secret plan to promote the Euro MP's if Mr Michael was not elected. It is understood that discussions took place in London over the weekend where the plan was drawn up.

Mr David confirmed yesterday that he had "popped in" to the Tynewydd shop, next door to the Labour Club, but had "no idea" who subsequently placed the bets. He said he was "not aware of any move" to suggest his name for the assembly leadership and said he was 100 per cent behind Mr Michael and was sure he would be elected. He said he was "not a betting man" and had not backed himself.

Asked whether the flurry of bets meant that someone had "insider knowledge", Karl Williams of Jack Brown said: "People don't throw away pounds 200 and pounds 250 for the fun of it."

The betting firm reduced the odds on Mr David becoming leader of the Welsh Assembly from 8-1 to 9-2 after the bets were placed.