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Davies planning his comeback as an Independent.

Byline: By Phillip Nifield South Wales Echo

Former Labour Welsh Secretary Ron Davies is making a bid to return to the National Assembly as an Independent.

Mr Davies plans to contest his old seat of Caerphilly against the sitting AM Jeff Cuthbert, who won the seat for Labour four years ago.

The devolution campaigner did not stand in 2003 after The Sun newspaper alleged he had a sexual encounter with another man in woods off the M4.

Five years earlier, he resigned from Tony Blair's Cabinet after the so-called Clapham Common 'moment of madness' incident when he was robbed by a man he met at a gay cruising spot.

Mr Davies is convinced he can put his past personal troubles behind him and make a triumphant return to front-line politics.

He confirmed: 'I will be standing in Caerphilly as an Independent candidate. My running mate on the South East Wales regional list will be Colin Hobbs, a former long-serving member of the local Labour Party who was also secretary of Caerphilly Community Health Council.

'He will also be standing as an Independent and I will be encouraging people to vote for him in the second part of the ballot.

'We are preparing a statement of principles which we will publish nearer the election, inviting a number of other independent Assembly candidates to support it.'

Mr Davies said there were three main strands of his campaign strategy, all of which would be incorporated into the statement of principles.

'We will be looking to create a new style of politics and government, freeing the Assembly from the stranglehold of party politics,' he said.

'Our view is that we need AMs elected who put their constituency interests before the party whip. It seems to me that the over-exertion of party influence on the Assembly has been the cause of problems at Cardiff Bay. Loosening the party whip is a very important and necessary development.'

The second strand involves linking up with like-minded AMs to create a new kind of power base.

'What we should be looking to do is working together with a number of other candidates who will be standing as Independents, with the aim of holding the balance of power in the Assembly,' he said.

'If we can achieve the balance of power, we could use our influence to ensure that decisions are taken in the genuine interests of the people rather than the interests of the ruling party.

'If that happens - and this is the third point - it will be the catalyst for change in the Labour Party.'

Mr Davies said he was confident of victory, adding: 'Since there has been speculation that I might be standing, I have had many messages of encouragement from local people, not only wishing me luck but telling me I could make a real difference in the Assembly.'

Asked about the legacy of Clapham Common and the M4, Mr Davies said: 'That's history. More than enough has been said about those issues and I am not going to address them again.

'All my experience of talking to people tells me that what they are interested in is my views about politics. The only issue of importance is my excellent record as a political representative over 30 years.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 5, 2007
Words:543
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