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Rhodri Morgan, Acting First Secretary
"I am raring to go. I just think it is an incredible honour"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 14:54 GMT
Morgan leads Welsh Assembly

Rhodri Morgan AM Rhodri Morgan has been confirmed as First Secretary

National Assembly Members have confirmed Rhodri Morgan as Wales's new first secretary.

His election to the permanent post after a week in a caretaker role, following the resignation of Alun Michael, was unchallenged when the Assembly met on Tuesday.

Mr Morgan paid tribute to Mr Michael for his work as first secretary and for the "dignity" he showed when stepping down under the threat of a Plaid-Cymru sponsored vote of no confidence last week.

We can and must arise from the ashes. I believe in the power of democracy to better the lives of our people in Wales
First Secretary Rhodri Morgan
He confirmed the existing Assembly cabinet in their posts - including himself as Economic Development Secretary - and said he would not be announcing any immediate reshuffle.

He said: "What the Assembly needs now is a period of calm after last week's dramatic events. We cannot allow the culling of First Secretaries to be an annual bloodsport in the Assembly."

Former First Secretary Alun Michael Rhodri Morgan paid tribute to Alun Michael
He spoke of the need to harness the abilities of the people of Wales and to ensure that people got involved with the new democratic opportunity represented by the Assembly.

"We've got to uncork the Welsh champagne bottle and let it fizz. I want to celebrate the talent and diversity of all the people of Wales," he said.

Turning to Welsh, he added: "It's our Assembly - and by us I mean the people of Wales - and we must work together to make it work."

Opposition leader, Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Wigley, welcomed Mr Morgan to his new role.

Dafydd Wigley welcomed Mr Morgan's appointment Dafydd Wigley welcomed Mr Morgan's appointment
He said there was some irony that Plaid Cymru's no-confidence vote in Alun Michael had ensured that Labour now had the leader the majority of its Welsh members originally wanted.

In February 1999, Mr Michael, Prime Minister Tony Blair's choice as Assembly leader, had only beaten Mr Morgan in a leadership election thanks to the use of union block votes.

Mr Wigley said the appointment of Rhodri Morgan sent a message that Wales would not have its leaders chosen from it from outside.

It is us here in Wales, as parties and as an Assembly, who decide our leaders. Let that message go out in no uncertain terms
Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley
Plaid Cymru had pressured Alun Michael to resign over what it saw as his delay in ensuring matching Treasury funding for Objective One, the massive 1.2bn European aid package for Wales.

But Mr Wigley said he would be patient with Rhodri Morgan over the issue: "Plaid Cymru accepts that you will need time to deliver and we will give you that time."

The Conservative leader in the Assembly, Nick Bourne, said he hoped Mr Morgan would address the concerns of areas like mid Wales which felt left out of developments taking place elsewhere.

He said that while the Tories would provide "constructive opposition", he looked on Mr Morgan's appointment as a new start.

Liberal Democrats in Wales leader Mike German Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mike German
The Liberal Democrat leader in the assembly, Mike German, said: "I am not too keen that we should speak of new starts when we are still in the eyes of Wales on probation.

"We need to put politics into action where it really matters.

"It's a good day for the Assembly, but lets not kid ourselves that this means much yet to anyone outside of Cardiff Bay," he said.

He welcomed Mr Morgan's indication that he would work together with other parties on Objective One and other issues.

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See also:
13 Feb 00 |  Wales
Morgan's promise over EU funds
11 Feb 00 |  Wales
Morgan is new Wales Labour leader
08 Feb 00 |  Wales
Welsh first secretary quits

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