Early Labour leadership contest stalemate

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Image caption Are Labour politicians thinking three moves ahead?

There appears to be a stalemate in the early manoeuvres leading to the Labour leadership contest.

The key statistic to remember is that candidates need the support of five other AMs, as well as themselves, in order to stand.

The other key development is that Mark Drakeford declared on Tuesday with the big statement of having the support of nine AMs including himself, smashing through the target required.

Since then there have been no other declarations as the other would-be first ministers have failed to muster enough early support.

A Labour AM told me one of the mysteries is what the Economy Secretary Ken Skates decides to do.

He is yet to make up his mind on whether to stand.

There is an interesting dynamic here because he represents a north Wales constituency.

Image caption What will Economy Secretary Ken Skates do?

I understand that if Ken Skates goes for it then the other four north Wales AMs in the Labour group are likely to swing behind him, which means he only needs the support of one other to cross the line.

If he stands then that vacuums up a significant number of AMs which makes the numbers tight for other potential candidates.

If he sits it out then five precious nominations will be up for grabs for the others to take advantage of.

This could be the development that unblocks the process.

There are also too many people that have yet to make up their minds on whether they are going to stand.

These include Jeremy Miles, Alun Davies and Huw Irranca Davies.

Image caption Mark Drakeford was first to say he wanted to be the new Welsh Labour leader

And then today a press release arrived from the office of Eluned Morgan saying she is going to make a statement on the leadership contest at an event she has organised in Pembroke Dock.

Ordinarily, you would assume this is the moment when someone is going to declare a candidacy.

But at this point in time it does not look like she has the numbers and the statement could easily be about what kind of contest she would like, or even announcing her intention to stand without necessarily having sufficient nominations.

There is also a strong view among some AMs that despite the fact Mark Drakeford came out of the traps early, there is no reason to rush through a process in which the party ends up with a slate of a candidates.

After all when Rhodri Morgan announced his departure timetable, there was plenty of time before a final list of candidates emerged.

We are heading into a weekend where a lot of Labour AMs have plenty to think about.