Race officially starts for Welsh Lib Dem leadership

The BBC wesbite reports:

Nominations have opened in the race to become the next leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Outgoing leader Mike German gave a farewell speech to the party’s autumn conference at Clydach, near Swansea.

Kirsty Williams, Brecon and Radnorshire AM, announced her intention to stand for the post a month ago; Cardiff Central AM today Jenny Randerson declared she would be joining Kirsty in the contest, ensuring the Welsh Lib Dems will soon be led by a woman. Here’s Jenny’s statement:

As you know, this afternoon, Mike German told Conference that he is standing down as leader of the party and the Assembly group. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mike for everything he has done for this party over the last ten years. He is the only party leader to see the Assembly through from the birth of devolution to its transformation into a law making institution. Under his watch, we have seen our party repeatedly grow its representation at almost every level and this party owes him our deep gratitude forever.

As you know, I have spent recent weeks carefully considering whether I want to lead this party. Some of you have tried to prize information out of me, but I thank you all for giving me relative space to come to my decision. It was always a decision that I was determined to make on my own terms, not on anyone else’s. But I did promise that once there was a vacancy, and some rules, I would give you an answer.

Today, I am announcing that when nominations open tomorrow, I will put myself forward to our party for the position of leader. I thank all those friends and colleagues who have encouraged me to do so, and I am determined not to let them down.

I believe that Wales is a fundamentally liberal country, full of good hearted people, but we are a country who are let down by politics. We are let down by a Labour party who veer widely from socialist dogma to neo-conservative economics. We have Plaid Cymru who cannot agree whether they are underpinned by socialism or by nationalism and we have a Tory party who have never felt comfortable with the concept of Wales.

And while politics has let people down, the wealth gap has widened and widened. People have felt more disengaged and politics has felt more rotten. Politics is letting people down and I want to change Wales by changing that.

I believe that Wales is crying out for a party who will give more power to communities and more power to people. A party that will stand up for the environment. We can do that, but we have to accept that we need to be in power to do it. My campaign will be all about change. Change of ambition. We deserve to be in Government. We have the ideas to make it work but we need to get there. And that involves changing our party and the way it views itself.

I’m not David Cameron, I’m a liberal. I can’t change what we say, but I can change the way we say it.
We must reach out to places and people that need our style of politics, places that feel let down by Welsh politics and need our help. We must modernise our party. We must modernise our message, but above all we must modernise our ambition. We must get back to the centre of things and back to working for people.

Wales was a Liberal country, I believe that underneath, it still is. I want to take us into a new Liberal age, and I believe that together as a party we can make that happen.

Update (13/10/08): Kirsty Williams issued the following statement after Jenny’s declaration of her intention to stand:

Jenny has been a fine ambassador for Cardiff Central and is deservedly a highly regarded AM. I welcome the chance to debate my vision for the future success of the Welsh Liberal Democrats with her. I am pleased that we have a contest and that members will face a real choice for real change.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be showing the whole of Wales that I have a fresh vision for this party, celebrating our past successes but more importantly looking to the future by raising the bar on our ambitions – to deliver change and to make Wales a fairer place.”

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This entry was posted in Leadership Election and Wales.
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