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2 April 2012 Edition

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Left-wing republican elected new leader of Plaid Cymru

‘WALES WILL BE INDEPENDENT IN MY LIFETIME’ – Leanne Wood

Socialist republican Leanne Wood AM has been elected as the new leader of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales

‘We’re a party of the Left, we reflect the Welsh radical tradition and we will continue to do that under my leadership’ – Leanne Wood

WELSH nationalist party Plaid Cymru’s new leader is a 40-year-old left-wing republican who says she will see independence for Wales in her lifetime.

Leanne Wood is the first female leader of Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales and is the first leader of the party who is not a native Welsh speaker although she is learning Welsh and is a keen advocate of the language.

A former probation officer, Women’s Aid support worker, tutor at Cardiff University and local councillor in Rhondda Cynon Taf, she was first elected to the Welsh Assembly in 2003. A year later, the staunch republican was ordered out of the Welsh Assembly when she refused to back down when describing the queen of England as ‘Mrs Windsor’.

In 2007, she was arrested for protesting against Britain’s Trident nuclear missile programme at the Faslane naval base in Scotland.

She says she is committed to working for Wales to become “a self-governing decentralist socialist republic”.

After her election on 16 March, the BBC looked at why Plaid Cymru isn’t the force it could be:

“The party has successes to shout about after going into coalition with Labour in 2007. The coalition built the case for reforming the way the Welsh Assembly is funded, secured primary law-making powers and passed legislation to protect the Welsh language - all key aims of Plaid Cymru. But it failed to capitalise on them at last year’s election. In her analysis of why Plaid lost seats, Ms Wood said that after ticking off so many of its short-term goals while in government, Plaid failed to offer voters a unique selling point.”

Two key planks of Leanne Wood’s leadership election campaign were the economy and independence.

She knows where Plaid has come from, where it is and where it is going.

“We’re a party of the Left, we reflect the Welsh radical tradition and we will continue to do that under my leadership.”

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