During my 8 years as an Assembly Member, I was fortunate in the Minister's that I shadowed - or worked closely with as Committee Chairman. Three of them were very impressive politicians. In my opinion, they all had the potential to take on the role of First Minister. The best of all was Sue Essex, who retired at the last Assembly election. The other two were Carwyn Jones and Edwina Hart. Its these two who are in the frame to step into the shoes that Rhodri Morgan will discard in favour of the slippers he will wear to walk to his garden shed, where he intends to write his memoirs. Sorry Huw Lewis, but I do not think you have the slightest chance of winning. Sorry because you alone have tried to put some philosophical discussion into Labour Party politics over the last two years.
Can't decide who I think will win. Its a tough call. Can't decide who I want to win. If sue Essex was still there, I would have a clear opinion. Don't agree with the bookies that Carwyn is a clear favourite. I'd have them neck and neck. The two are very different politicians. I'll tell you how I found them.
Edwina Hart is a decisive politician, not afraid to take difficult decisions. I always admired the 'straight' way she answered questions, much the best at Minister's Questions. But she has some weaknesses, real or perceived. Her attitude towards the media has been awful. An emergency crash course is needed. She is thought by many to be unsympathetic towards the Welsh Language (though not convinced that this is true) - and don't laugh, but I think she is too emotional and sensitive. But in the end we found out that Mrs Thatcher was also a deeply emotional woman - so its not an absolute bar. Needs a good campaign to win.
Carwyn Jones is a man who exudes presence. He is a big, physically impressive man. I recall the very first committee meeting I attended after being elected in 1999 - the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. We were all new. After the meeting, my leader, Rod Richards asked me about the other members, which I had just met for the first time. I told him there was Labour AM named Carwyn Jones, completely unknown to me, who knew nothing about rural affairs, but was a politician to watch. And so it's turned out. Carwyn has developed a reputation as being lazy. I do not know whether this is true. Perhaps his commitment to family gave this impression. He needs an energetic campaign.
Whatever, I expect a quite friendly contest between the two of them. I just hope that they move out of the comfort zone and put some life into Welsh politics.