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Leadership politics in the United Kingdom's local government

From Rhodri Morgan to Carwyn Jones, two different styles of leadership

Stéphanie Bory
p. 117-132


Wales was given a National Assembly in 1998, following the devolution referendum held in September 1997. Since the first elections of its Assembly Members (AMs) in May 1999, the nation has only experienced three First Ministers, two of them leading the government for most of the time: Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones, both from the Labour Party. They have turned out to display different styles of leadership, between proximity and distance, familiarity and professionalism. They have nevertheless managed to turn the weak institutions, endowed with limited powers, into a parliament that must be reckoned with in London.

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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en septembre 2018.


Rhodri Morgan : “the people’s choice”
The early stages of the Assembly
“Clear red water”
Rhodri Morgan’s popularity
Carwyn Jones
A new face for Wales
A more political approach

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For a long time, choosing a political career meant becoming an MP and/or being appointed as a lord, hence sitting in Westminster. Yet, in 1998, the British Parliament voted the Government of Wales Act, thereby granting executive devolution to Wales with the creation of the National Assembly for Wales. This devolution process has obviously changed the balance of power, as expected by Labour MP Ted Rowlands who stated in the House of Commons during the third reading of the bill: “I have been wondering what I should recommend to my sons or daughter should they want to pursue the privilege of being an elected representative. Where should they go? I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I would tell them to go either to the Welsh Assembly or, sadly, to the European Parliament”. The devolution of powers to Wales allowed some local politicians to make careers on the political stage in Cardiff, thus to become prominent leaders whereas they were often regarded as second-rank ones in L...

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Stéphanie Bory, « From Rhodri Morgan to Carwyn Jones, two different styles of leadership », Observatoire de la société britannique, 20 | 2018, 117-132.

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Stéphanie Bory, « From Rhodri Morgan to Carwyn Jones, two different styles of leadership », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 20 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2018, consulté le 17 août 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.2003

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Stéphanie Bory

Maître de conférences à l'Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3

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