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Picking winners

Betsan Powys | 15:29 UK time, Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A month today we'll know the name of the new Labour leader. Yes, still a month left. The campaign has already been going on for three months - a quarter of a year that is - and it's felt like it too.

But this isn't going to be another blog post about how dull the contest is, oh no. (I've just had to delete two paragraphs because that's the way it was heading.)

From September 1st, for the second time in less than a year Welsh Labour party members will receive ballot papers to elect a new leader. The first time they elected Carwyn Jones. This contest - and forgive me for stating the obvious - has been a lot less Welsh.

There have been visits - not a lot - but all the contenders have been to Wales at least once during the campaign for the hustings at the Millennium Stadium. And most have been back.

Andy Burnham is visiting Bridgend and Swansea today. Yesterday he was in Cardiff and Newport. He's not alone in not straying too far from the M4 corridor. ** (see update below)

He's not alone either in telling Welsh party members the leadership needs to 'listen more'. That was the message from all five candidates in the Cardiff hustings and yesterday Andy Burnham said there were particular lessons to be learnt from attempts by the central party to impose candidates in Wales. Few would argue with that but in terms ef elected members here, Andy Burnham's struggling for support. He was nominated by one Welsh MP to get him into the race but Ogmore's Huw Irranca Davies will be voting for David Miliband.

AMs' votes are nowhere near as valuable as their Westminsters colleagues' according to the rules of the ballot but he may pick up a couple of supporters in Cardiff Bay.

When Ed Balls visited the Assembly in early July he was forced to defend a lack of Welsh support. A long way to go he said, but Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan who's running his campaign is still the lone declared supporter amongst our MPs and AMs. His local party have backed the other Ed by the way.

Though thought to be trailing his brother in the wider contest, in Wales, Ed Miliband's performing strongly. He's about neck and neck with his brother in declared support from Welsh MPs, while he seems to be the most popular choice amongst Labour AMs - his campaign team say 15 of the Assembly team are on board.

Mountain Ash, Cardiff Bay and Bridgend have been David Miliband's chosen destinations. His backers include Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd, Rhondda's Chris Bryant and Newport West MP Paul Flynn.

Two Welsh MPs nominated Diane Abbott but that doesn't mean that Sian James and Nia Griffith will vote for her. Apart from the hustings, her campaign trail hasn't taken her to Wales and she has no plans to visit before the vote says her office.

Now it's pretty difficult to gauge how Wales will go with all the union members' votes and the thousands of party members who'll have their own views.

They include First Minister and Welsh leader Carwyn Jones of course. He's not saying who he'll vote for. Probably for the best - just to avoid any awkwardness in the party conference if his choice doesn't win.

** Update: Earlier I'd said that Ed Miliband's visit to Holyhead was the only occasion the candidates had visited North Wales. It seems the Milibands have been along the A55 a couple more times! Ed Miliband stopped off in Wrexham during his visit, and brother David talked to members in Connah's Quay and Rhyl (BL)

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