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UK Politics

Outsider Leanne Wood wins Plaid Cymru leadership race


As a Welsh learner, republican and outspoken socialist  it was perhaps no surprise that Leanne Wood was initially ranked as outsider in the Plaid Cymru leadership race.

Today, however, in a remarkable turnaround she was elected the new leader of the Welsh nationalist party.

She beat former leader Lord Elis-Thomas, and the widely tipped Elin Jones, to replace outgoing Ieuan Wyn Jones.

Party grandee Lord Elis-Thomas was eliminated in the first round of voting, leaving his second and third preference votes split between the two women.

Wood triumphed after polling 3,326 - compared to Elin Jones's 2,494.

Speaking today she said: "This campaign has not been about individuals. It has been about a vision - a programme, a set of connected politics.

"Our task now is to build on the work of all of those who have gone before us.

"We may be small, as a party and as a country, but we can stand tall if we stand together and we stand up for our principles.

"The election is over, now the real work begins. I may not be the leader of the official opposition, but I intend to lead the official proposition, the proposition that another Wales is possible.

"So here's my message today to the people of Wales: we are your party, the people's party, of Wales, for Wales.

"Join us. Help us to re-build your community. Help us to re-build our economy.

"Together we'll build a new Wales that will be fair, a new Wales that will flourish and a new Wales that will be free."

The contest took place following disappointing results for Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly elections last May, which saw them falling into third place in the Senedd.

Ieuan Wyn Jones announced he was stepping down four days after the results saw the party lose four seats. He remained in place as leader for the intervening ten months.

Ms Wood's campaign utilised a mixture of social media and grassroots campaigning to win support and encourage new members to join.

During the election campaign Plaid Cymru saw a leap in membership of 23%.

Plaid Cymru Chief Executive and Designated Officer for the election, Rhuanedd Richards said in response to Ms Wood's election,

“Our new leader has a crucial job to do for our nation over the coming years.

“Fighting for the future of Wales and our communities is very much at the forefront of people’s minds.  Plaid is the only party which will ensure that the interest of Wales and its people will be advanced."

Where the votes went:

Round 1:

Leanne Wood 2,879, Elin Jones 1,884, Dafydd Elis Thomas 1,278 (eliminated)

Round 2:

Leanne Wood 3,326, Elin Jones 2,494