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Thursday, May 18, 2017

An anecdote about Rhodri Morgan

The death of former First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan yesterday was a great shock and tremendously sad. He was an intelligent, charismatic politician who took devolution by the scruff of the neck in 2000, and give it the stability it needed to bed down and become a success.

Widely respected across the political divide, Rhodri had the common touch that many politicians seek but few achieve. He was as at home in the pub talking rugby and football as he was greeting the Queen or discussing policy with other national leaders.

He had an encyclopedia-type memory and ready wit, constantly pouring out facts, jokes and anecdotes to suit any occasion. Sometimes it seemed like the whole of Wales was on first-name terms with him.

I remember the first time I met him. It was the first meeting of the Assembly in 1999. He was sitting near to me so I introduced myself and told him that his brother, Prys had been my history tutor at university. 'That's the story of my life'' he retorted, 'people only know me through my brother.'

On another occasion, he responded to a question I posed to him in Plenary with the quip that it was nice to hear from Peter Black on the black economy.

He took on the mantle of First Minister from Alun MIchael at a time when Welsh devolution was on the verge of collapse and made it his own. Every First Minister since will be measured against him and inevitably, they will be found wanting.
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