Wales politics

Plaid Cymru MP: Leanne Wood 'can win on Labour turf'

Plaid Cymru's new leader will adopt a "more aggressive" stance towards Labour, one of her key allies has said.

Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards said Leanne Wood could appeal to voters across Wales, not just in Plaid's traditional heartlands.

She was named party leader on Thursday after beating rivals Lord Elis-Thomas and Elin Jones in what her supporters said was a decisive victory.

Mr Edwards, her campaign manager, said she was a "pan-Wales candidate".

He told BBC Wales that Plaid had to defeat Labour in its heartland areas such as the south Wales Valleys.

Ms Wood last year published policy proposals for the former coalfields in what she called a "Greenprint for the Valleys".

Mr Edwards suggested her background as a Welsh-learner from the Rhondda would work in her favour.

He said: "For the first time we've got a leader of Plaid Cymru who is an English speaker first of all and she ran a campaign where she was clearly the 'pan-Wales' candidate, not only appealing to those areas in the south Wales Valleys, but also bringing in support from people like myself in Carmarthenshire, Adam Price and Dafydd Iwan in Gwynedd."

'Labour rule'

The breadth of her support "puts Plaid Cymru clearly as the only real challenger to Labour rule in Wales", he said.

She inherits control of the third-biggest party in Cardiff Bay, after Plaid lost seats at last year's Welsh assembly elections and dipped behind the Conservatives for the first time.

"I think what we will see is a far more aggressive strategy in taking on the Labour party for the coming months," Mr Edwards said.

"As someone who has been brought up and raised in the Rhondda, who speaks English as her first language, she is clearly the person who can take on the Labour Party in the south Wales Valleys.

"And the reality about it is if we want to achieve our ambitions for our country we have to defeat Labour in their heartlands in the Valleys and Leanne clearly is the best person to do that for us."

She is the ninth leader in Plaid's 87-year history and the first woman to do the job.

The party's chair, Helen Mary Jones, said: "I think the fact that she's a woman and the fact she's not from originally a Welsh-speaking home aren't the main things we need to celebrate about Leanne, but it does show how the party has moved and grown and I think it will be symbolic for people of the party really being the party of the whole of Wales."

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