Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has launched his bid for the Plaid Cymru leadership.
After weeks of speculation, the former broadcaster and journalist has confirmed he will challenge incumbent Leanne Wood, triggering a leadership contest this summer.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM Adam Price has also confirmed he will allow his name to go forward to become party leader. Both declarations came just hours before a biennial window closes, allowing Plaid AMs to launch a leadership challenge.
Mr ap Iorwerth, who replaced Ieuan Wyn Jones as the island’s Assembly Member in 2013, previously ruled out plans to challenge Ms Wood despite backing from his local constituency party.
But in a video statement released on Wednesday, he said party members and supporters from across Wales had encouraged him to put his name forward, including some who would back Ms Wood.
— Rhun ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) July 4, 2018
He said: ”This should be a constructive debate, a positive one that can energise the party and the country, and it’s in that spirit that I am accepting the nominations. And in the spirit of real excitement and passion about the future of our country.”
”So let’s discuss different visions, different styles, and different ideas. My commitment is to Wales, and to a fairer and more prosperous future for the country. Plaid Cymru has to lead the way to that new, confident Wales, and over the coming weeks we can discuss openly and democratically how best to deliver the most effective and most exciting leadership for the party and the nation.”
Last month, Leanne Wood – Plaid leader for the last six years – said she would stand down in 2021 if she did not become First Minister at the next Assembly elections.
And in an essay published earlier this week, Mr ap Iorwerth argued the party needed to change by becoming driven by people and ideas ”in which those on the left and over towards the centre can feel equally comfortable.”
He added: ”The point I make is that we must be clear and focussed. Our vision is to take Wales places, to grow as a nation. To become a Wales that looks forward, not over its shoulder. A Wales that rolls up its sleeves to look after its most vulnerable, and that seeks to develop the best ideas in order to prosper. A Wales that welcomes new citizens, encourages and helps them to embrace its culture, and asks them to make Wales not only their home but their nation, too. That is the broad vision, and to deliver it we must be a broad party.”
In another essay, Adam Price called for joint leadership, accusing Plaid of generally failing ”to consistently articulate a comprehensive and compelling vision of the future.”
He said: ”Our comfort zone has been a strange mixture of philosophical abstraction and the predictable, plodding politics of the parsimonious press release, the tired tweet and the formulaic FB status.”
”Pressing the reset button for our party has to start now – and it comes with the hard but vital work of developing a creative and credible body of ideas that will excite the interest and inspire the confidence of the people of Wales.”
On Tuesday, Ms Wood rejected Mr Price’s proposal for co-leadership, saying it was down to Plaid’s rank-and-file members on whether the form of leadership should change. She told BBC Wales she was ”very confident” about winning a leadership contest.
Mr Price pledged to challenge Ms Wood if she did not agree to the co-leadership model. In his constituency, he has won backing from both the ruling Plaid group on Carmarthenshire County Council and his local party.
Launching his campaign on Wednesday, he said he was humbled by the ”level of encouragement and support…whilst not declaring any intention to stand has been truly humbling.”
He added: ”I will use this campaign to enthusiastically share and discuss some bold and creative policy ideas for a prosperous, confident and independent Wales with party members who will now have the opportunity they have called for to have their say on building a renewed and resurgent Plaid Cymru.”
On his call for joint leadership, Mr Price said he believed it was still ”a practical and progressive way forward” which could have avoided a traditional contest – but it now had to be parked for the time being.
Nominations for leadership candidates closed at midnight on Wednesday.