Born on 29th of September 1939
British hero of the week December 2nd 2009
By resigning as First Minister of the Welsh Assembly when still at the top of his game Rhodri Morgan reminded machine politicians it’s the job, not keeping it, that is important.
Born in Cardiff in 1939 into an intellectual family – his father a professor of Welsh, his brother an academic historian – he was educated at St John’s Oxford and at Harvard. His early career was as a civil servant, but a committed Labour supporter his entry into politics was inevitable. Morgan won the Cardiff West seat for Labour at the 1987 general election, and soon held shadow posts in the fields of energy, environment, and Welsh affairs where he promoted devolution. Married since 1967, Morgan’s wife Julie Edwards became Cardiff North’s MP in 1997.
In 1997 when Labour came to power it was a surprise he was not given ministerial office, though as an outspoken representative of his constituents, and humanist, his profile was not one to recommend him to Blair 's New Labour.
When the Welsh Assembly was created Morgan sought to lead it: twice he lost to candidates more to New Labour’s liking: first to Ron Davies who then departed after his ‘moment of madness’; then to Alun Michael, soon ousted. Thus on February 9 2000 Rhodri Morgan became First Secretary (the title soon changed to First Minister) of the Welsh Assembly, a position he held until resigning after nearly 10 years in office to let others continue the work, prompted partly by his age – he had just passed 70 - and perhaps with his 2007 heart operation in mind.
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