Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Saturday, 19 July 2008 09:51 UK

Culture minister job up for grabs

Rhodri Glyn Thomas
Rhodri Glyn Thomas became one of Plaid Cymru's first ministers

Speculation as to who will take over as Wales' Culture Minister has begun after Rhodri Glyn Thomas resigned from the job on Friday.

It followed claims he had walked into a Cardiff pub holding a lit cigar.

The Plaid Cymru minister quit saying his position was not "sustainable" following an earlier gaffe when he named the wrong winner of a book prize.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Nick Bourne said the matter wasn't a "resigning issue".

He added: "I didn't call on him to resign, I'm a little surprised he did resign.

"It seems to me there was probably [more] internal pressure from the government than external pressure from opposition parties or the media.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas correcting his mistake
The moment Mr Thomas realised he had read out the wrong name

"I didn't hear anyone call on him to resign. Personally I feel a bit sorry for him I have to say.

"There have been a series of gaffes, he acknowledges himself, there was the prize issue and the issue over the smoking.

"But more serious in a sense for us as opposition politicians is the lack of progress on a Welsh language legislative competence order and failure to get money for a Welsh language Newspaper Y Byd.

"I would have regarded them as more serious but they've been long going sores," he added.

Political commentators have speculated that Caernarfon AM Alun Ffred Jones will be the likely replacement.

Martin Shipton from the Western Mail newspaper said Mr Jones would be a suitable candidate for the role.

"He's a very competent AM, he's not a particularly charismatic figure but after what has happened to Rhodri Glyn, perhaps charisma is not what they are looking for," he said.

"Certainly he has all the credentials, he has been involved in running a Welsh language TV production company in the past, he was the leader of Gwynedd Council, so he would very much be a safe pair of hands.

"It's a great sadness really that Rhodri Glyn has fallen foul in this way - he was a competent minister," he added.

Praise

Following the announcement that Rhodri Glyn Thomas was resigning, Labour First Minster Rhodri Morgan praised him for his "hard work".

In his resignation letter to Mr Morgan, he wrote: "In the light of the publicity that has been following me in the last weeks I feel that my position in the government is no longer sustainable.

"Further comments would be bound to follow. It has been a privilege to be part of this government during this exceedingly exciting period."

Mr Thomas became an assembly government minister when Labour and his party formed a coalition after the assembly election a year ago.

He and two party colleagues, Ieuan Wyn Jones and Elin Jones, became the first Plaid ministers in the party's history when they joined Labour in the cabinet.

Mr Thomas's party colleagues have praised his contribution as an assembly government minister.

Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones AM said: "I have accepted Rhodri's decision to resign and I've thanked him for his important work as Heritage minister."




SEE ALSO
Cigar blunder minister quits job
18 Jul 08 |  South East Wales
Gaffes stub out minister's career
18 Jul 08 |  South East Wales

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