Politics: Battle hots up on Welsh Assembly

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The Independent Online
THE BATTLE for the Labour leadership of the Welsh Assembly took a new twist yesterday when the Welsh Secretary, Alun Michael, was accused of running scared of the voters.

He was attacked by supporters of his rival, Rhodri Morgan, after saying he would not contest one of the 40 constituency seats for the assembly in May. Instead, he wanted to be one of 20 assembly members elected from regional "top- up" party lists by proportional representation. He will stand in Mid and West Wales, made up of eight individual constituencies, none of which has backed him in the leadership contest.

He said he had been invited for selection in half a dozen safe seats that each has a candidate but he did not want to be seen pushing aside local party members. "Because assembly members elected through the list will carry out duties in each of the eight constituencies in the area, I will, as an additional member, be able to focus on its strategic needs."

The result of the leadership ballot is due in February.

Mr Morgan, the Cardiff West MP, has been selected to fight the Cardiff West seat for the assembly. His supporters said Mr Michael's decision proved his unpopularity with local Labour members. "He's running scared from the voters."

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