The Morgan Paradox

After nine and a half years at the helm Wales’s First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, decides it’s the time to go.Many fine things about the man.
1) He’s funny:
Paxman: “Do you want to be First Minister?”
Morgan axiomatically: “Does a one legged duck swim in cirles?”
2) He’s a man of the people, in Welsh we’d say “Un o’r Werin”.
I moved to Cardiff from the Valleys about two years ago. On my first night I went on a wander and there in the corner of an old Docks pub bar was the First Minister with a pint in hand and not a bodyguard in sight.

He’s one of the few people who are know almost exclusively by their first name. Here’s Betsan on his personal popularity.

But here’s the rub. The most well known, charismatic and personally popular Welsh politician of his generation has overseen the destruction of the Welsh Labour hegemony. A hegomany once so strong that as late as the first Assembly elections of 1999 the BBC thought it proper to give as much election coverage to Labour as to the other parties put together.

Some facts
Labour MPs in 1999 – 34/40
Today 29/40
2010 Forecast from this morning’s Political Home poll 19/40

Labour Councillors:
1999 542/1234
2008 346/1234

Euro Election percentage
1999 31.9%
2009 20.3%

It’s certain that the demise of the mining industry has had an effect. Devolution and PR elections also produced a dynamic for the other parties in Wales.
Certainly nobody is blaming the Labour leader through this period!

A slight aside but it’s now virtually certain that, come next May, Rhodri’s successor will be the most important elected Labour politician in Britain. Hold that thought.