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Backing the right horse

Betsan Powys | 13:32 UK time, Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Back in July the five candidates for the Labour leadership came to Wales. It may have been more a case of five go through the issues in Cardiff than five go mad in Dorset but those who'd come along to the Millennium Stadium left very happy.

Yes, there'd been different takes on some pretty crucial issues - who would have agreed to cut what and when for one, Iraq another - but it had all been handled smoothly. Point-scoring was subtle; there was conviction aplenty. This, loyal members seemed collectively to sense, was one battle that wasn't going to tear the party apart.

Who, I asked people as they left, had made an impression?

Quite a few hadn't expected Andy Burnham to feature much but left saying he'd made a big impact. They might even vote for him. Others hadn't expected to like Ed Balls very much but had liked what he'd said. Everyone seemed to have liked Diane Abbott's style, few would like it if she won.

Which left the Miliband brothers, one of whom was going to win.

"Oh Ed will win" said the Welsh MP who'd been whipping up support amongst his colleagues in Westminster. He said it quietly but with great certainty. Two months on, despite the big money having been following big brother David ever since Ed's team are happy to say out loud that they think so too.

In Cardiff, he seemed to get the vox pop vote. "A little less new Labour" said quite a few. "At least he said sorry for a few things" said another. They would certainly have seen the Shadow Welsh Secretary standing resolutely at his side, making introductions, sticking by him from front door to podium, seemingly attached, suggested one party member, by velcro. They would know too that Lord and Lady Kinnock, though not there that day, were standing by his side in spirit.

Welsh MPs are pretty evenly split in their support for the two brothers but Welsh Labour AMs turned out in some force for Ed, standing in line behind Mr Hain on this occasion. Would it be fair to suggest, then, that Welsh Labour would heave a definite sigh of relief if Ed won - and hold their breath, just a bit, if David takes it?

Not at all, say party people. It's not as if things have turned nasty. It's not as though the Welsh party has gone wholesale for one brother over the other. Still, they add: starting to look as though he could do it, you know.


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