01/09/2011

Elin Jones to stand for Plaid leadership

Elin Jones, Welsh Assembly Member for Ceredigion, today announced her intention to stand for the leadership of Plaid Cymru. Full statement below:

"Today I am announcing my intention to stand for election as Plaid Cymru’s next Leader. I believe that I have the strength of character and clarity of vision to be the party’s Leader, and I have spoken to many members and supporters over the summer weeks to gauge views on the party’s future and my role in that future. I will now be putting my name forward to stand for Party Leader when nominations open.

"Plaid Cymru has achieved a great deal for Wales over the past few years. This year saw the establishment of Wales’ first legislative Parliament and the completion of Plaid’s first-ever term in Government. Now a new chapter is opening for Plaid Cymru. Our task is to strengthen our country’s autonomy and economy, and to make the case to the people of Wales that our nation is better served by independence than dependence.

"Unlike the British parties, our job is never to manage Wales, but to build Wales. Sometimes Plaid will contribute to that work from within Government, sometimes from outside. However, our aims remain clear: that we build our country’s independence and that we work to achieve economic prosperity and social justice for our people.

"We need, as a Party, to reach out to a wider array of voters. We cannot just speak to ourselves, we need now to go out and talk to, and for, everyone in Wales. Over the coming months I will outline clearly how I believe we can reach out to people and build our support.

"I have held many offices within Plaid Cymru, both locally in Ceredigion and nationally, as Party Chair and now Director of Communications. I have been a Town Councillor and, since 1999, an Assembly Member for Plaid Cymru. I began my working career as an Economist, and politics has been a lifelong interest and passion.

"I am a West Walian and a proud Cardi. Had I lived in any other country in the world, I would still have been a republican and a socialist. But as a Welsh citizen, then I am also a Welsh nationalist. I speak both languages of Wales.

"I am passionate and ambitious for my country. An occasional Welsh Grand Slam or Gold Medal is great, but is not enough for me. I want to see Wales as a self-governing nation placed among the best countries of the world in terms of its education, economic and environmental achievements too.

"If elected its Leader, then my party can expect 100% dedication from me. I am a hard-worker and a team player. Winning a tough marginal seat such as Ceredigion four times on the trot would not have been possible without those characteristics.

"I enjoy meeting people and working for people. My constituents know that I am there for them – whether in a formal surgery, on the end of a phone or in the supermarket aisle on a Saturday afternoon. Gaining people’s trust is a necessity for any politician. I have done so in Ceredigion and in my recent role as Rural Affairs Minister. I can do it again as Plaid’s Leader.

"I can be trusted to listen, to take tough decisions and win arguments. But, most importantly, I have learnt that there is little point in taking those tough decisions or winning those arguments in isolation. I can take people with me.

"Today is my 45th birthday. I was born in Carmarthen, in 1966, on Gwynfor’s birthday, September 1st. That makes me acutely aware of the longer-term struggle by Plaid members and supporters in seeking to establish an independent nation. Many have known darker political times than me. However, realising the ambition of national freedom should continue to unite and motivate us all.

"Plaid Cymru has achieved so much for Wales over its 86 year history. But so much remains to be done. As we begin our party’s next chapter, and Wales’ first chapter with its legislative Parliament, I am ready to lead Plaid Cymru."

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