Parliament: Morgan denies `coup'

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THE LABOUR backbencher Rhodri Morgan yesterday dismissed as "desperate" claims that he would stage a backroom coup to install himself as First Secretary of Wales.

Mr Morgan spoke out amid speculation that Plaid Cymru and rebel Labour members of the Welsh Assembly would team up to elect him even if he lost the Labour leadership contest to Alun Michael, the Secretary of State for Wales.

The row broke out as it emerged that another major trade union had voted to give the Cardiff West MP its support in the increasingly bitter contest to lead the party in the Assembly in May. The Manufacturing Science Finance union has voted by a clear majority for Mr Morgan, adding to backing already given by Unison and the Fire Brigades Union.

However, the MP yesterday played down suggestions that he would stage a coup similar to that which saw Ken Livingstone take over the GLC in the 1980s.

One Labour party source said: "Rhodri wants this job one way or another ... a Red Ken scenario is not implausible."

Mr Morgan dismissed the idea as "pure dirty tricks" on the part of his opponents but refused to reject the idea. "I am focused on victory and nothing else," he said.