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Plaid delegates hear 'time to broaden party appeal'

18 June 11 17:29
Rhuanedd Richards

Plaid Cymru's new chief executive says it must "broaden its appeal" after losing seats at the last assembly election.

Rhuanedd Richards was speaking as the national council met in Aberystwyth for the first time since the party fell behind the Conservatives in May's poll.

She said there was "no sense of crisis, but there is a sense of urgency".

Plaid has set up two reviews into its campaign and a wider consultation into its future.

Ms Richards' chief executive appointment was announced on Saturday as delegates met in Aberystwyth.

"I think it would be foolish for any party that has suffered disappointing results not to look at itself ...and look at how it can improve," she said, adding that the party must extend its appeal to all parts of Wales.

The party was now going through a "process of renewal", she said.

Ms Richards, 37, from Pontypridd, was formerly a special adviser for the Welsh Government and also a journalist and presenter at BBC Wales.

She is taking over as chief executive during the summer recess from Gwenllian Lansdown who has stood down to move to Montgomeryshire.

Saturday's meeting was at the end of a week in which Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones had to respond to criticism about his decision to go on holiday rather than attend the assembly's royal opening.

Mr Jones said he had put his family first and did not wish to cause embarrassment.

He was in France when the fourth assembly was officially opened by the Queen, prompting some calls for him to step down immediately.

He has already announced he will stand down from the helm of the party in the first half of the assembly's five-year term.

The party lost four seats in May's elections and is now the third party after Labour and the Conservatives.

Former Plaid leader Dafydd Wigley said the party had to "learn the lessons from the election".

"We lost seats and therefore there must be lessons to be learned, and delegates from various parts of Wales and constituencies will bring forward those lessons," he said, referring to Saturday's meeting.

"In the light of those lessons then the next phase of the party's development must be fine tuned."

Baron Wigley told BBC Wales: "We must ensure that the new leadership that will follow Ieuan Wyn Jones when he eventually stands down is one that reflects the wishes of the party and learns the lessons from what went wrong this time."

He added that Plaid had to be ready for local elections next year.

"We are talking about a matter of months, not years," he said.

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