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Election 2011, Politics

Who will win the title of Presiding Officer?

Political reporter Lynn Courtney examines the top contenders for the role of Presiding Officer, post-elections.

Just as we politicos were relaxing last night after a hard day with our ears to the keyhole, I had a phone call from one of my contacts.

Having left the Senedd snug in the knowledge that we more or less knew who was in the race to be annointed Presiding Officer, another boater – and indeed, bow tie – was thrown into the ring.

After twelve years of elegantly steering the good ship Senedd away from the rocks of disaster, able Captain and Sea Lord Elis Thomas was to stand aside.

Most people’s money was then on the dream ticker of Rosemary Butler as PO, with the Conservatives’ William Graham as deputy.

Rosemary has already had experience of the deputy role and, with her good humour, would be an obvious choice. And William would be a capable pair of hands.

But then the phone call last night from a contact telling me he had just been asked who would he support: William Graham, or, cue in the theme to Jeeves and Wooster, the very likeable and brainy David Melding!

David, of course, has been a top contender for the role of PO in most discussions last term, but more recently had waved a modest hand and batted the idea away.

Why, then, does it look like he might stand? Well, the other key name for the job was Angela Burns from the Tories – another good choice for either job.

But if she doesn’t stand it means she will be free to throw her titfer in the ring for leader of the Welsh Conservatives at the Assembly, a job left vacant after Nick Bourne lost his seat

And if that is what’s running through her mind, what an amazing opportunity for a woman to vie for the leadership of the 14-strong group at the Senedd.

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