Tributes have been paid to the former Welsh First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, who died last night, Wednesday May 17.
Mr Jones, who took up the role of First Minister in 2000, months after the Welsh Assembly was formed, is widely regarded to have brought a level of stability to the Assembly in its early, turbulent days.
He led the Welsh Labour group through two further Assembly elections, in 2003 and 2007, before relinquishing the post to Carwyn Jones in December 2009. Mr Morgan remained a backbench AM for Cardiff West until April 2011, when he retired.
He has died aged 77. Following the news, all parties in Wales have suspended campaigning for the day, and a minute’s silence will be held at 12.30 in the Assembly.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Wales hasn’t just lost a great politician, we’ve lost a real father figure. In very many ways Rhodri wasn’t like other politicians, and that is why people warmed to him, trusted him and felt like they knew him so well. He was funny, clever, engaging on almost any topic and absolutely passionate about all things Welsh.
“I owe him a great deal, just as we all do in Wales. He did so much to fight for, and then establish devolution in the hearts and minds of the public in our country. His bright confidence was infectious, and we can see much of Rhodri’s can-do attitude in our modern Wales. That first decade of self-governance, and making distinct choices for Wales will forever be associated with his leadership.
“He will be hugely missed, and my thoughts are with Julie and all the family at this sad time.”
Caerphilly AM, Hefin David, paid his own tribute, adding: “Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan was a fascinating, energetic, kind and thoughtful leader of our country.
“Rhodri was First Minister for nearly ten years and in that time he worked with other parties in coalition to get the best deal for Wales. The tributes from leading figures across the political divide indicate that Rhodri was well-respected across the chamber and throughout Wales. We will all miss him.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT David, 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.
“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.”
Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood commented: “Rhodri Morgan was much respected across the political spectrum and led Wales with distinction during a crucial period in Welsh history.
“I extend my condolences on behalf of everyone in Plaid Cymru to his family.”
Welsh Liberal Democrats leader, Mark Williams, added: “Rhodri Morgan will be remembered for leading Wales in those early years, putting Welsh politics on an even footing. In what was a difficult early period for devolution, Rhodri built a coalition to deliver on the promise of devolution.
“He will be remembered as an extremely charismatic and engaging leader, and the kind words we have heard from so many today show the enormous respect and admiration for Rhodri.”