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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sorry is the hardest word

Two successive posts about Peter Hain may well appear excessive by anybody's standards and yet, as many commentators have remarked, he has been everywhere this week. He has been schmoozing at Conference parties, lobbying Trade Unionists, greeting delegates and holding impromptu press conferences. Anybody would think he was in the running to be Deputy Prime Minister.

Today he is addressing the Labour Party Conference, preceded by a film of him working in TRW, a car parts manufacturer in his constituency and my region. However, before that he found time to talk to the Western Mail and express his regrets about his part in blocking Rhodri Morgan's bid to be First Minister, shortly after Ron Davies' moment of madness on Clapham Common in 1998:

IT'S been a long time coming, but seven years after one of the murkiest episodes in Welsh political history, Peter Hain has apologised for blocking Rhodri Morgan's attempts to become the National Assembly's first leader.

Mr Hain, now Welsh Secretary, ran Alun Michael's successful campaign in 1999 to defeat Mr Morgan, who had the overwhelming support of the party membership.

At the time it was seen as one of the worst examples of New Labour control freakery.

He told a fringe event at the party's conference in Manchester on Tuesday evening, "In retrospect Rhodri was the natural choice of Welsh Labour and Alun wasn't. I will, at some point, tell the whole story of that but I'm not going to do that now.

"I can't wriggle out of it, it did happen. Was it the wrong thing to do? Yes, it was."

Mr. Hain has an unfortunate record of saying sorry. The last time he came over all contrite was shortly before the Blaenau Gwent by-election when he apologised on behalf of Wales Labour for imposing an all-woman shortlist onto that constituency. The result was a massive rebuff for him and for his party as Trish Law and Dai Davies stormed to victory. Let us hope that voters in the Deputy Leadership election adopt a more charitable view of Peter Hain eating humble pie.
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