RHODRI MORGAN yesterday appeared to downgrade his own role as the political leader of Wales, by suggesting that no-one else wanted his job.
When asked at a media briefing in Cardiff Bay whether he expected to remain the First Minister after the next National Assembly elections in 2007, Mr Morgan joked, "Who else wants to do the job?"
In case he is under the misapprehension that there would be few candidates for the post, which carries an annual salary of £116,146 and attractive fringe benefits including trips to faraway rugby matches, we decided to reveal the names of five potential successors - Carwyn Jones, Jane Davidson, Andrew Davies, Lord Elis-Thomas and Nick Bourne.
Others would undoubtedly fancy themselves to be in the frame, but the likelihood of their attaining the political heights is perhaps even lower than those we have identified.
During the briefing, Mr Morgan brushed off suggestions his minority administration is un- der pressure, saying it is providing "stable government".
Since the defection of rebel backbencher Peter Law in April, Mr Morgan's Labour group has held just 29 seats in the 60-seat Assembly.
Last month other parties used their majority to force him into a compromise on university top- up fees - which Welsh students will not have to pay if they study in Wales - but it seems unlikely that they can join forces and force Mr Morgan out altogether.
The First Minister said, "Having arrived at the last one or two days of this Assembly term, the interesting point for us has been how we provide stable government in a period of unstable political turmoil.
"We believe that we can put our hands on our hearts and say we have provided an element of stability."
Labour projects such as new hospitals and cutting prescription charges were going ahead as planned, he said.
He added, "We just assume that unless there is an effective alternative to a Labour administration, I think the Assembly as a whole accepts the need for a Labour administration.
"We will lose a few votes from time to time, we accept that."
But Conservative Assembly leader Nick Bourne - one of our five nominees for the top job - said, "The tempo here has changed.
"Labour has realised they have to take account of the opposition forces.
"If they don't, there will be consequences."
Mr Bourne is included in our list because if current voting trends continue, the Conservatives could overtake Plaid Cymru in 2007 to become the second largest party in the Assembly.
It is also very likely that Labour will not secure an overall majority, thus leaving open the possibility for an opposition alliance to take control of the Assembly Government.
By convention, if such an alliance were to be formed, the leader of the largest opposition party would usually expect to be elected First Minister.
The prospect of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats countenancing such a move is, however, extremely unlikely.