Monday, 7 December 2009

Rhodri Morgan: lacklustre

Next week Rhodri Morgan is giving up as First Minister and moving to the back benches. His political career is coming to an end. And I'm sure that there will be much praise expressed about the man.
Indeed the praise has already started.
In his annual address to the Assembly Peter Hain described Rhodri Morgan as the father of devolution and one of the nation's greats, from the same line as Owain Glyndwr, David Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan. Even the Labour benches thought that this was a bit over the the top. I, personally, thought that our patron saint's name had been changed from David to Rhodri.
There is no denying the fact that Rhodri Morgan is a well known and popular politician. Indeed, in YouGov's first Welsh opinion poll  63 per cent of those polled were of the opinion that Rhodri Morgan was a good First Minister. This is an exceptionally high figure for a politician. Usually  when politicians  leave the stage they are unpopular.
But despite all the praise, I doubt whether history will regard him as a successful First Minister. In my opinion the best that can be said about him is that he was a safe pair of hands. Without doubt after the shaky start that the Assembly had under Alun Michael's leadership, it was a blessing having safe hands. But after ten years more was needed.
I'm one of the few that thinks he could have done a lot better. He's a clever man, from an academic background who has held senior positions both in the civil service and Europe's representative in Wales. His working class accent is a sham. The boy's from a cultured academic background. He had every advantage to succeed.
There is no doubt that Rhodri Morgan is an enthusiastic devolutionist, but the project has not moved forward a great deal since he's been at the wheel.
He established the Richard Commission to look at the powers of the Assembly. Richard recommended that Wales should have law making powers and it would be desirable to have power over taxation.
Despite Rhodri Morgan accepting the report, his influence was not to be seen thereafter. The  result was the 2006 Act. An act that created a complex system of law making which effectively provided Parliament with a veto on the Assembly.
And we're still arguing about these powers. Up to now there is no certainty when Labour will decide on the date of a referendum.
But without doubt the biggest accusation against him is his failure to gain for Wales a fair funding system. He should have tackled the Treasury early on in his tenure of office to gain fair play for Wales. We've known for some time that Wales has been short changed under the Barnett formula.  Why did he wait so long before trying to change the system?
This failure has cost Wales billions.
Populist measures was his priority, not the challenge of transforming the nation.
No, we had a pretty empty ten years, mores the pity


  1. Very well said.

  2. We have not come to bury Caesar, but it might be a good idea!