Hywel Rhodri Morgan (29 September 1939 – 17 May 2017) was a Welsh Labour politician who was the First Minister of Wales and the Leader of Welsh Labour from 2000 to 2009. He was also the Assembly Member for Cardiff West from 1999 to 2011 and the Member of Parliament for Cardiff West from 1987 to 2001. He was, as of 2017, the longest-serving First Minister of Wales. He was elected Chancellor of Swansea University on 24 October 2011.
|The Right Honourable|
|First Minister of Wales|
9 February 2000 – 10 December 2009
Jenny Randerson (Acting)
Ieuan Wyn Jones
|Preceded by||Alun Michael (First Secretary)|
|Succeeded by||Carwyn Jones|
|Leader of Welsh Labour|
9 February 2000 – 9 December 2009
|Preceded by||Alun Michael|
|Succeeded by||Carwyn Jones|
|Member of the Welsh Assembly|
for Cardiff West
6 May 1999 – 5 May 2011
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Mark Drakeford|
|Member of Parliament|
for Cardiff West
11 June 1987 – 7 June 2001
|Preceded by||Stefan Terlezki|
|Succeeded by||Kevin Brennan|
Hywel Rhodri Morgan|
29 September 1939
Cardiff, Wales, UK
17 May 2017 (aged 77)|
Wenvoe, Wales, UK
|Spouse(s)||Julie Edwards (m. 1967)|
T. J. Morgan|
Prys Morgan (brother)|
Garel Rhys (second cousin)
St John's College, Oxford|
Morgan was educated at Whitchurch Grammar School (which merged with Whitchurch County Secondary School to become the comprehensive Whitchurch High School in 1968) in Whitchurch, Cardiff; St John's College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in PPE in 1961; and Harvard University, where he gained an MA in Government in 1963.
In 1967, he married Julie Morgan (née Edwards), who was later the Labour MP for Cardiff North between 1997 and 2010. The couple lived in Michaelston-le-Pit (a village situated outside their constituencies), and were patrons of the British Humanist Association. They had a son and two daughters.
In July 2007, Morgan was admitted to hospital where he underwent heart surgery. Even though he left hospital within the week, doctors said he would not be fully recovered for a few weeks.
Morgan died on 17 May 2017 age 77.
Before entering politics, Morgan worked as a research officer in local and central government from 1965 to 1971, an economic adviser to the Department of Trade and Industry from 1972 to 1974 and an Industrial Development Officer for South Glamorgan County Council from 1974 to 1980. He then served as Head of the European Community's office in Wales from 1980 to 1987. He was also a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association between 1963 and 1965.
Morgan was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Cardiff West in 1987. From 1988 to 1994, he was a Shadow Environment Spokesman. He was also Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration (1997–1999), and Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Energy (1988–92) and Welsh Affairs (1992–1997). He stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2001 General Election.
A committed supporter of Welsh devolution, Morgan contested the position of Labour's nominee for the (then titled) First Secretary for Wales. He lost to the then Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies. Davies was then forced to resign his position after an alleged sex scandal, whereupon Morgan again ran for the post. His opponent, Alun Michael, the new Secretary of State for Wales, was seen as a reluctant participant despite also having a long-standing commitment to Welsh devolution, and was widely regarded as being the choice of the UK leadership of the Labour Party.
Michael was duly elected to the leadership but resigned a little more than a year later, amid threats of an imminent no-confidence vote and alleged plotting against him by members of not only his own party, but also Assembly groups and Cabinet members. Morgan, who had served as Minister for Economic Development under Michael, became Labour's new nominee for First Secretary, and was elected in February 2000, later becoming First Minister on 16 October 2000 when the position was retitled. He was also appointed to the Privy Council in July 2000. Morgan stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2001 General Election.
Morgan's leadership was characterised by a willingness to distance himself from a number of aspects of UK Labour Party policy, particularly in relation to plans to introduce choice and competition into public services, which he has argued do not fit Welsh attitudes and values, and would not work effectively in a smaller and more rural country. In a speech given in Swansea to the National Centre for Public Policy in November 2002, Morgan stated his opposition to foundation hospitals (a UK Labour proposal), and referred to the "clear red water" separating policies in Wales and in Westminster.
On 1 May 2003, Labour under Morgan's leadership was re-elected in the Assembly elections. Morgan managed to win enough seats to form a Labour-only administration (the election was held under proportional representation, and Labour won 30 of the 60 seats in the Assembly and the overall majority was achieved when Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM was elected Presiding Officer of the Assembly) and named his cabinet on 9 May. In that election, Labour easily took back all of the former strongholds they lost to Plaid Cymru at the height of Alun Michael's unpopularity in 1999.
In his second term, Morgan's administration continued its theme of "Welsh solutions for Welsh problems", a marked contrast to the Blairite public service reform agenda. Instead of competition, Welsh Labour emphasised the need for collaboration between public service providers.
Labour was the biggest party with 26 out of the 60 seats, five short of an overall majority. After one month of minority government, Morgan signed a coalition agreement (One Wales) with Ieuan Wyn Jones, leader of Plaid Cymru, on 27 June 2007. Rhodri Morgan became the first modern political leader of Wales to lead an Assembly with powers to pass primary legislation (subject to consent from Westminster).
In July 2005, Morgan announced his intention to lead the Welsh Labour party into the 2007 general election, but retire as leader and First Minister sometime in 2009, when he would be 70. On his 70th birthday (29 September) he set the exact date as immediately following the Assembly's budget session on 8 December 2009. Counsel General Carwyn Jones, Health Minister Edwina Hart and Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM Huw Lewis entered a leadership contest to elect a new Labour leader in Wales. On 1 December 2009 the winner was declared as Carwyn Jones, who assumed office as First Minister on 10 December 2009. Morgan remained a backbench AM until April 2011, when the third Assembly was dissolved prior to the general election on 5 May 2011.
Rhodri's family held an open funeral for Rhodri at the Welsh Assembly on 31 May, which was open on a first-come first-served basis to the public, as well as broadcast on screens outside the Senedd and online. His funeral was the first Welsh national funeral, akin to a state funeral, as well as the first national funeral led by a humanist celebrant. The ceremony was led by Rhodri's friend and former Welsh Labour colleague Lorraine Barrett.
Rhodri Morgan was awarded several honorary degrees for his service to the United Kingdom, including the following.
|Wales||26 November 2007||University of Wales||Doctor of Laws (LL.D) |
|Wales||June 2009||Bangor University|||
|Wales||2009||Aberystwyth University||Honorary Fellow|
|Wales||July 2011||University of Glamorgan||Doctorate |
He was also appointed Chancellor of Swansea University in 2011, a post he held until his death. He had close links with the University as both his parents had graduated from it in the 1920s and his father and brother also taught there.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Cardiff West
|National Assembly for Wales|
|New constituency|| Assembly Member for Cardiff West
|New office|| Minister for Economic Development
and European Affairs
as First Secretary of Wales
| First Minister of Wales
|Party political offices|
| Leader of Welsh Labour