PETER LAW claims he was offered a prestigious Assembly position in return for not standing against the official Labour candidate in Blaenau Gwent.

Blaenau Gwent Independent MP and AM Peter Law said he was offered the deputy presiding officer position at the National Assembly if he agreed to the proposition.

Mr Law said he came under intense pressure from Assembly ministers, government ministers and union leaders to do the deal.

He is currently undergoing radiotherapy treatment at Velindre Hospital, in Cardiff, after having a brain tumour removed in April.

Just before undergoing surgery, the outspoken politician was expelled from the Labour Party after more than 40 years of membership when he announced his intention to stand against Maggie Jones.

He said: "There were so many calls from high up in the Labour Party, and their union leaders were sent to see me. The offer was to withdraw my threat to stand as an independent candidate in the parliamentary elections in return for the position of deputy presiding officer.

"They offered to put the current deputy presiding officer, John Marek, to the sword if I agreed. They were trying to do that deal from Easter 2004. There was terrific pressure put on me.

"I had months of it and obviously you always think of these things but, actually, I knew what was right and what was wrong.

"I knew it would be wrong to accept this.

"People of little principle who were really just taking the normal approach of insincerity and spin were saying, 'We will give you this if you listen'.

"They were saying, 'It's in the interests of the Labour Party,' but I maintained it was not in the interests of the people of Blaenau Gwent.

"I didn't agree and wouldn't give any reassurances if I took up the position and the offer subsequently fell back. There was a continuing momentum of pressure which I dealt with professionally.

"They used every trick in the book from a spin machine the size of New Labour. It just shows how much New Labour is now out of touch with their grassroots. Even when I was in hospital I was getting phone calls from a minister who said, 'Hope you're all right, but it would be useful if we could have a chat'.

"I didn't want to go ringing anyone at that time but there seemed to me to be an ulterior motive about the proposed conversation.

"That is how they work and that is why I'm glad not to be a part of it."

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Labour Party said: "I have no idea what he means by this and I can't speculate on a private conversation."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan was unavailable for comment.


TWO more Labour Party members received expulsion notices for supporting Independent Peter Law at the general election.

Barbara Chislett, of Ebbw Vale, who is 73 and a member for "many years", says she was expelled for attending the Blaenau Gwent count on May 5 on behalf of Mr Law.

Len Evans, of Beaufort, Ebbw Vale, is excluded after 60 years in the party - after signing a letter of endorsement.

Mr Law, the AM for Blaenau Gwent, left the Labour Party to stand against the official Labour candidate Maggie Jones, in protest at the imposition of an all-women shortlist.

He won the Blaenau Gwent seat by more than 9,000 votes.

Now 20 members of the Labour Party have been excluded themselves from the party for supporting Mr Law.

Mrs Chislett said she was expelled for being at the count - but added she had only been in the public gallery and had not been allowed on the floor.

"Why should we be expelled. They didn't expel the people who supported Ken Livingstone in London? Is it one rule for Blaenau Gwent and one for London?" she said.

"Peter Law didn't get me the invitaton, although obviously it was from his party. But I was there supporting him - I can't deny it. I would do it again." Mrs Chislett said she was against the all-women shortlists.

"I wasn't against more women in Parliament, but let them get in because they have been chosen, not picked by certain people.

"It should have been an open vote for us to choose who we wanted - we might have voted for her (Maggie Jones).

"But we have an excellent MP in Peter Law who will fight for the people of Blaenau Gwent."

Len Evans, who is 76 and joined the Labour Party at the age of 16, is a past constituency chairman and treasurer - and is excluded after signing a letter of endorsement for Mr Law.

He said: "I couldn't support the all-women shortlists under the circumstances, Llew Smith announced he would retire in plenty of time for us to have an open shortlist and any selection we wanted.

"That's why I supported Peter Law. It wasn't for him but the principle and I would do it again."

He will not appeal against his expulsion.

Former Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith called the expulsions "a disgrace and a witch-hunt".