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This report is taken from PN Review 134, Volume 26 Number 6, July - August 2000.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

The 'First Secretary' affair created a considerable stir in the media. When the Assembly for Wales was set up no one, least of all the Prime Minister, foresaw the possibility of its activity having the slightest impact on United Kingdom politics. He, and we, were mistaken. The failure of Blair's placeman, Alun Michael, to obtain from the Treasury a guarantee of match-funding that would unlock a hoard of Objective One euros for the impoverished rural and postindustrial parts of Wales was entirely predictable. What the other parties (who, together, hold a majority over the Labour administration) would do when the expected was more or less confirmed was the only question. With barely stifled glee they seized upon it as a confidence issue. In the end, Michael fell upon his sword - to the consternation of Lord Elis-Thomas, 'Presiding Officer' (the local term for Speaker), who had been prepared for a resignation after the confidence vote, not before. It did energise the media remarkably: overnight, politics in Wales became headline news in London. Not out of interest in Welsh affairs, however. The fall of Alun Michael and rise of Rhodri Morgan were seen to mirror events unfolding in Media-opolis, where New Labour's arcane selection system was backed to ensure a similar opposition between the party's preference as mayoral candidate for London and the popular choice. The discomfiture of the Prime Minister is the main theme. I had one brief opportunity of observing Alun Michael at close quarters while he was ...


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