Nominations have opened for candidates to succeed Ieuan Wyn Jones as leader of Plaid Cymru.
Mr Jones, who has led the party since 2000, announced his intention to resign the leadership after last May’s disappointing assembly election result which had been criticised for focusing a negative campaign against Labour without offering enough positive alternative policies to Welsh voters.
Plaid Cymru chief executive Rhuanedd Richards said it was an “exciting time” for the party and the contest opens up an opportunity for debate on the future of Plaid Cymru.
Ms Richards said: “The election is open to party members and new members will also have a vote if they join before the close of nominations on January 26th.”
Four Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly members: Elin Jones, Lord Elis Thomas, Simon Thomas and Leanne Wood have announced they intend running in the leadership contest for Plaid.
The former agriculture minister, Ceredigion AM Elin Jones, says her leadership campaign goal is on opening up the doors of Plaid Cymru to every person in Wales.
“After four successful elections in Ceredigion I have widened the appeal of Plaid Cymru – broadened the base of electoral support. I want to make sure in Wales as a whole we are able to appeal to people of all backgrounds, people who haven’t voted Plaid in the past but who share my ambition for change. Ultimately our ambition is to make Wales a successful independent nation.”
Ms Jones already has fellow AMs, Llyr Huws Gruffydd and Jocelyn Davies, supporting her in her campaign for the leadership.
LORD ELIS THOMAS:
AM for Dwyfor Meirionydd, is understood to oppose any possibility of Plaid working with the Conservatives if he were to become leader and will comment once officially nominated by his party locally.
AM for Mid and West Wales worked as a Plaid advisor in the One Wales government.
Mr Thomas says he believes Plaid needs a greater sense of cohesion and unity at all levels of the party.
“There is a feeling in the party that we haven’t made the most of being in government. Perhaps the party didn’t celebrate enough the fact that we were in government and some of the things we achieved in government. We need to make sure the next leader is somebody who can work with a whole range of opinions and differences within the party and bring people together.”
South Wales Central AM, elected in 2003 – officially launches her campaign in Ammanford this Thursday, arguing forcefully that independence should now be part of the mainstream political debate.
Ms Wood said: “My first-hand experience of recession and its impact during the 1980s gives me a determination to make sure that we do not lose yet another generation to youth unemployment. Tackling those economic challenges goes hand in hand with our journey to independence.”
Ms Wood has received support for her leadership bid from MP Jonathan Edwards, and fellow Plaid AMs Bethan Jenkins and Lindsay Whittle.
Mr Whittle said Ms Wood has the ability to make Plaid Cymru “an effective fighting machine”.
Nominations close on 26 January and the winner will be decided by the alternative vote system.
The new leader will be announced in Cardiff on March 15th.