Politics: Davies to be candidate for Welsh cabinet

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER minister Ron Davies is expected to announce that he still intends to stand as a candidate for the new Welsh Assembly next May.

In his first public engagement for more than 11 days, the Labour MP was due to tell local party members at a meeting last night that their strong support had persuaded him to fight on.

Mr Davies' supporters said yesterday that he was also likely to offer his constituency party in Caerphilly his own explanation of the incident on Clapham Common last month, which led him to quit the Cabinet. Addressing his local party for the first time since his resignation, he will try to correct media coverage of the "error of judgement" that led him to pick up a man before being robbed.

The new Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Michael, hinted this week that he would be prepared to include Mr Davies in his cabinet to run the assembly.

One of his colleagues said yesterday that he was determined to stand and play an influential role. "Ron has been immensely heartened by the response locally and wants to stand," he said. However, the Caerphilly constituency chairman, Derek Lamb, said that Mr Davies would be constrained in his answers by a pending court case connected to the episode.

A 38-year-old man is currently remanded in custody charged with robbing Mr Davies of his car and mobile phone.

Mr Lamb said that he expected most of the 60 members of the constituency's general management committee to attend the private meeting.

"Certain people I'm sure will ask questions but Ron has got to be very careful what he says. As far as he's able to answer he will and if he can't he will give the reason why."

Mr Davies had been due to address last Friday's weekly meeting but withdrew because "he was not in the best of health", Mr Lamb said.

He added that the constituency party had already expressed "absolute support" for Mr Davies but the MP wanted to meet members face to face.

Last week the media pressure on Mr Davies had become "intolerable", Mr Lamb said, but he spoke to him on the phone yesterday and he seemed "much stronger".

Mr Davies' only public appearance since his resignation as Secretary of State for Wales was to make a brief statement in the Commons, in which he attacked the press and appealed for a more tolerant society.

His resignation as prospective leader of the Welsh Assembly has triggered a bitter succession battle between Alun Michael, who replaced him at the Welsh Office, and Rhodri Morgan, who was defeated by Mr Davies in a party ballot earlier this year.

Yesterday the Welsh Labour Party's taskforce failed to produce concrete proposals for the new selection contest, but will meet next Thursday to announce its decision.

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