Blair and Corbyn pay tribute to Rhodri Morgan, a “giant” of Welsh Labour

18th May, 2017 9:12 am

Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn have led tributes to Rhodri Morgan, the former Welsh first minister, who became one of the great figures of devolution after nearly a decade in office.

Morgan, who died yesterday aged 77, won praise from across politics for his role in stabilising the new Welsh Assembly after he replaced Alun Michael in 2000.

Welsh Labour this morning suspended campaigning as a mark of respect to Morgan, who also served as an AM and in the House of Commons.

Corbyn praised a “good friend, a great man and, above all, a giant of the Welsh Labour movement”.

“Rhodri was an incredibly effective first minister for Wales. He stood up for Wales, its people’s future and its public services. So much was achieved in his nearly ten years in the post, making a real success of devolution and laying the foundations for what the Welsh government is accomplishing today.

“I first met Rhodri in 1987 on his election to parliament and we became good friends. Our thoughts are with his wife Julie and the rest of the family. They can be truly proud of Rhodri’s enormous achievements.”

Morgan was elected first minister in the early days of devolution during Blair’s first term in office.

He took over from Michael, who stepped down following a row over European grants and criticism that he was too close to Blair’s government.

Morgan was an independent-minded figure with a colourful turn of phrase who when – during the formation of the Assembly – was asked if he wished to lead it, responded: “do one-legged ducks swim in a circle?”

Yesterday Blair remember Morgan as an “outstanding servant of Wales, the United Kingdom and the Labour Party”.

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