Vale politicians pay tribute to former First Minister Rhodri Morgan (From Barry And District News)

TRIBUTES have been paid to the former First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan.

It was announced yesterday (May 17) that Mr Morgan had died at the age of 77.

He was elected as an MP in 1987 for Cardiff West and went on to become leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales in 2000, replacing Alun Michael, and held the position until 2009.

Political parties in Wales have suspended campaigning for the General Election out of respect for Mr Morgan.

Alun Michael, the current police and crime commissioner for South Wales and former First Minister of Wales said he was “shocked” by the sad news of Rhodri Morgan’s death.

“He was the most popular politician of his generation and the absolute master of the one-liner,” said Mr Michael.

“When Rhodri and I were first elected in 1987 we were part of a Welsh resurgence of political radicalism which was a staging point for 1997 and the road to devolution which has been so crucial to the Wales in which we now live.

“He led the Welsh government and the a through turbulent times to stability and laid the firm foundations on which Carwyn Jones and the current government have been able to build.

“While we had our disagreements, for instance over the Cardiff Bay Barrage, Rhodri was always a vigorous and colourful debater, but not personal.

“We remained friends and he is someone whose commitment to Wales and to the people he served in Westminster and then in the assembly was always absolute.

“He will be greatly missed and our sympathy goes to Julie and Rhodri’s whole family.”

South Wales Central AM and leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said: “Rhodri Morgan was a giant of devolved politics in Wales who served a hugely important role in stabilising the National Assembly during its formative years.

“As First Minister, his answers in the chamber were always worthy of attention and his encyclopedic knowledge across his brief ensured he was rarely wrong-footed.

“Our first meeting was not in the political arena but came after Rhodri was forced to barricade his garden late on an autumn Sunday evening after some of my cattle had misbehaved and wandered into the Morgans’ – he was undoubtedly one of life’s true characters.

“And while politically we didn’t see eye to eye, there is no question that he was held in high regard right across the political spectrum and he will be missed by all who knew him.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Julie and the family and as a mark of respect the Welsh Conservatives have suspended all campaigning today.”

Vale of Glamorgan assembly member Jane Hutt also paid tribute to Mr Morgan.

“Rhodri Morgan was a truly exceptional man who has made an indelible mark on Wales,” she said.

“With Julie, in a devoted partnership, both passionate and committed to social justice, he put his beloved family at the forefront of his life but worked tirelessly to change the world.

“He was a uniquely gifted politician with the greatest integrity, able to relate to everyone he met – who saw him and knew him as ‘our Rhodri’.

“I have been so fortunate to know and work with him as a truly inspiring leader who defined the meaning and importance of devolution for Wales whilst crafting a distinctive identity for Welsh Labour.

“My love, friendship and memories of Rhodri are now with Julie, Prys and the family as we grieve with them for their great loss of a remarkable man, husband, brother, father and grandfather and a great friend to Wales.”