Dafydd Wigley - seen as representing the 'Heineken' factor in Welsh politics - is increasingly likely to make a comeback to the National Assembly as a South Wales AM.
The former Plaid Cymru president could easily be found a place on the party's regional list for South Wales Central because of the retirement of sitting AM Owen John Thomas at the next Assembly election in 2007.
Last night there was even speculation that Mr Wigley could become First Minister in a non-Labour coalition administration.
Mr Thomas said, 'I am all for Dafydd Wigley succeeding me as a regional list AM for South Wales Central. He is very widely respected right across the political spectrum. I have even had some high-ranking people from other parties saying they would vote for him if he were a candidate.
'When I was teaching, there was a lady on the staff who was a Conservative from the well-heeled Cyncoed district of Cardiff who told me that whenever Dafydd appeared on TV, she found herself agreeing with him and would vote for him if he was a candidate in her area. That illustrates for me how he is the Heineken of Welsh politics - he can reach those people who often can't be reached by anyone else.
'Dafydd Wigley can talk to trade unionists and the CBI and be respected by both. I remember being at an event in St David's Hall some time ago. When Dafydd walked in, people like Gerald Davies and Gareth Edwards were keen to talk to him. He is truly a celebrity's celebrity who communicates with people directly while looking them in the eye. As well as that, he has true gravitas. That's what people like about him.
'He's an enormous asset to Plaid and Wales, and it's ludicrous that he isn't in the Assembly.'
South Wales Central is being seen as the most likely route back into the Assembly for Mr Wigley because it is where he is most likely to be elected. Until 2003 he was the AM for Caernarfon, but Alun Ffred Jones now holds that seat and will be standing in the area again. Plaid's policy of putting women candidates at the top of every regional list means that if he stood as number two on the North Wales list, he would be unlikely to win a seat.
Mr Wigley's chance to run in the south was also made possible by a decision made by Plaid's National Council last week not to insist that candidates on regional lists had to live within the region where they were standing.
Mr Thomas said, 'Although Dafydd represented Caernarfon from the time he was first elected to Parliament in 1974, he cut his political teeth on Merthyr Council at the time he was a financial accountant with Hoover. He understands the Valleys very well. Because of his popularity, he could pull in a lot of votes for Plaid not just in South Wales Central, but nationally if he was playing a leading part in the campaign.'
Mr Wigley's candidacy could be a crucial element in ensuring that Plaid remains the main opposition party in the Assembly. That, in turn, could make it easier for the current opposition parties to form an anti-Labour coalition administration: while it is conceivable that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could potentially serve under a Plaid First Minister, it is difficult to envisage Plaid and the Lib-Dems joining an Assembly Government led by a Tory. It is also possible that Mr Wigley would be able to command more cross-party support as First Minister than his successor as Plaid Assembly leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones.
Mr Wigley himself told us, 'I can confirm that my name is now on Plaid's list of approved candidates. I have no plans to apply for selection in an individual constituency, but it is possible that I may offer myself for selection as a regional list candidate when the process gets under way in the New Year. Ultimately it will be for party members to decide who stands.'
Page 2: Charismatic Wigley to put passion back in staid Plaid Cymru