Leanne Wood

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Leanne Wood
AM
Leanne Wood.jpg
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for South Wales Central
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 2003
Preceded by Pauline Jarman
Leader of Plaid Cymru
Incumbent
Assumed office
16 March 2012
Preceded by Ieuan Wyn Jones
Personal details
Born (1971-12-13) 13 December 1971 (age 43)
Rhondda, Glamorganshire, Wales
Political party Plaid Cymru
Website http://www.leannewood.org

Leanne Wood AM (born 13 December 1971), is a Welsh politician and the leader of Plaid Cymru. Born in the Rhondda, Wales, she has represented the South Wales Central region as a Member of the National Assembly for Wales since 2003. She was elected leader of Plaid Cymru on 15 March 2012. Wood, a socialist, republican and a proponent for Welsh independence, is the first female leader of Plaid Cymru and the first party leader to be a non-native rather than native speaker of the Welsh language.

Early and personal life[edit]

Born in Llwynypia Hospital on 13 December 1971,[1][2] Wood was raised and still lives in the nearby village of Penygraig. She was educated at Tonypandy Comprehensive School (now Tonypandy Community College), and the University of Glamorgan.[3][4]

Her private life is kept private, but she has a long term partner and a daughter, Cerys Amelia. In 2002, her then partner David Evans killed himself by taking too many drugs prescribed for depression brought on by chronic fatigue syndrome.[3]

Career[edit]

From 1997 to 2000, Wood worked with the Mid Glamorgan Probation Service as a probation officer. From 1998 to 2000 she was co-Chair of the National Association of Probation Officers.[2] Wood worked as a support worker for Cwm Cynon Women's Aid from 2001 to 2002, where she has been Chair since 2001.[2][5] Wood lectured in social policy at Cardiff University from 2000, until her election to the National Assembly for Wales in 2003.[6][7]

Political career[edit]

Wood credits her political awakening to reading Marge Piercy's 1976 feminist classic Woman on the Edge of Time, and the 1984/5 UK miners' strike.[3] Her political heroes include Lewis Lewis, one of the leaders of the 1831 Merthyr Rising.[3]

After joining Plaid Cymru in 1991 aged 20,[3] Wood was elected a councillor on Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council from 1995 to 1999.[2] After leaving the probation service in 2000, she was Jill Evans MEP's political researcher until 2001.[2] Wood was Chair of Cardiff Stop the War Coalition from 2003 to 2004.[2]

Welsh Assembly[edit]

Wood unsuccessfully stood in both the 1997 and 2001 campaigns as a candidate in the Rhondda constituency.[3] She was then elected as a Member of the National Assembly for Wales (AM) in the election of 1 May 2003, representing the South Wales Central region for Plaid.[1] She was the party's Shadow Social Justice Minister between 2003 and 2007.[1]

In December 2004 whilst pregnant,[3] Wood was the first assembly member to be ordered out of the chamber for referring to the Queen as "Mrs Windsor" during a debate. Lord Elis-Thomas asked Wood to withdraw the remark on the grounds of discourtesy. When she refused, she was ordered to leave.[8] She later said: "I don't recognise the Queen ... I don't think I was treated fairly, I don't think it was necessary. I called her that because that's her name."[9]

Wood was arrested on 8 January 2007 for protesting against the UK's Trident nuclear missile programme at Faslane naval base in Scotland.[10][11]

Wood became Plaid Cymru's sustainability spokesperson from the formation of the One Wales government, a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru in July 2007, remaining in the role until the end of Assembly's term in 2011.[1] While in the role, Wood campaigned on 'green' issues, including calling for more land to be made available for growing food.[12]

During the 2011 referendum on extending the National Assembly for Wales' law-making powers, Wood was Plaid Cymru's representative on the all-party Yes for Wales steering group, which campaigned successfully for a 'Yes' vote.[13][14] She is Chair of the PCS Cross-Party Group in the Welsh Assembly.[5] According to the BBC, Wood's particular areas of interest are: poverty; women's issues; social services; criminal justice; social exclusion; mental health; anti-privatisation; and anti-war.[1] Her Plaid Cymru profile includes her commitment to working "for Wales to become a self-governing decentralist socialist republic".[15]

Scrutiny[edit]

Between 2009 and 2011, Wood led the exposure of excesses at the Wales Audit Office, while under the control of Jeremy Colman, Auditor General for Wales.[16] Through the Freedom of Information Act, she uncovered a severance package of £750,000, personally authorised by Colman, to the former chief operating officer Anthony Snow.[17] Further scrutiny uncovered more self-authorised expenses, including training costs for Colman and Snow and the £464 cost of hiring a chauffeur-driven Mercedes for Snow to attend a meeting on how to save public money.[18][19] Colman resigned in February 2010 following an internal investigation, subsequently pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.[20][21]

Figures obtained by Wood under the Freedom of information Act revealed the level of pay among university vice-chancellors in Wales. Over 270 people were paid over £100,000 per annum by Welsh universities in 2009. It was noted that all Welsh university vice-chancellors received more pay than the £134,723 salary of Carwyn Jones, Wales' First Minister, and some were paid more than the £197,000 entitlement of David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[22]

Information obtained by Wood showed thousands of workers in Wales to have been paid below the Minimum Wage since 2002-03. The underpayments involved over 1000 employers in Wales. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills subsequently asked HM Revenue and Customs to "press for prosecution where there is clear evidence that the employer has committed an offence", in 2010. No prosecutions had begun by June 2011.[23]

Policy development[edit]

Wood has produced two major policy documents. In 2008, she published Making Our Communities Safer. Drawing on her four years’ previous experience as Plaid Cymru’s Social Justice and Regeneration spokesperson and committee member, as well as her previous work as a Probation Officer, it argued for the criminal justice system in Wales to be devolved.[24]

A Greenprint for the Valleys was published in 2011, in which Wood argued for a job creation programme aimed at regenerating the former coalfield areas of the valleys. It contains initiatives including: a Green Construction Skills College; implementing an integrated transport plan for the valleys; creating a land bank for renewable energy and food production; and a programme to renovate heritage buildings. It also suggests providing financial support for home energy efficiency measures and for setting up of green co-operatives.[25]

Leader of Plaid Cymru[edit]

Wood was elected leader of Plaid Cymru on 15 March 2012, defeating Elin Jones and Dafydd Elis Thomas. In winning the election she became the first female leader of the party. She is also the first leader of the party not to speak fluent Welsh but is currently learning the language.[26][27] Her leadership platform included a call for "real independence — genuinely working to end war, inequality and discrimination", emphasising economic and environmental concerns alongside constitutional reform.[28] Supporters of Wood's leadership campaign included: former Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price; former Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Iwan; and former Cymdeithas yr Iaith chair Menna Machreth.[29][30]

In June 2012, discussing the Scottish independence referendum, to be held in 2014, Wood addressed the concept of 'Britishness'.[31] She explained that feeling British wasn't dependent on a British state. Wood said she was sure Wales would be an independent sovereign state within a generation, and would exist within a "Neighbourhood of Nations", following the break-up of the United Kingdom.[32][33]

Elections contested[edit]

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes  %
1997 Rhondda Plaid Cymru 5,450 13.4
2001 Rhondda Plaid Cymru 7,183 21.1

Welsh Assembly elections

Date of election Region Party Votes  % Results
2003 South Wales Central Plaid Cymru 27,956 15.44 Elected Multi-members party list
2007 South Wales Central Plaid Cymru 32,207 15.5 Elected Multi-members party list
2011 South Wales Central Plaid Cymru 28,606 13.7 Elected Multi-members party list

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Your representatives; Leanne Wood". BBC News Democracy Live website. BBC. 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ms Leanne Wood, AM's biography". Debrett's website. Debrett's. 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Matt Withers (12 March 2012). "She leads one of Wales' biggest parties... but who is Leanne Wood?". Western Mail (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Rob Jones (11 January 2007). "People and places that helped shape the Tonypandy we know today". Rhondda Leader (Pontypridd: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, South Wales Central)". Understanding ModernGov website. Understanding ModernGov. 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Leanne Wood?". National Assembly for Wales website. National Assembly for Wales. 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "AM's prison claim over ID cards". BBC News website (BBC). 12 December 2005. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Leanne Wood expelled from chamber". BBC News Democracy Live (BBC). 31 October 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "AM expelled for 'Mrs Windsor' jibe". BBC News (BBC). 1 December 2004. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Tomos Livingstone (9 January 2007). "Plaid Cymru pair arrested at Trident base". Western Mail (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 7 June 2011. [dead link]
  11. ^ Auslan Cramb (9 January 2007). "Nine are held in Faslane demo". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "A lot meant by an allotment". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). 7 September 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Wales says yes in referendum vote". BBC News website (BBC). 4 March 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "LCO Process Is Holding Back Wales, Says Plaid AM". Plaid Cymru. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  15. ^ "Leanne Wood AM". Plaid Cymru. 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  16. ^ Martin Shipton (6 May 2011). "Wales Audit Office spent £200,000 on external legal and HR help". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Martin Shipton (24 September 2010). "Audit official’s deal was struck the first day he qualified for early retirement". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Martin Shipton (12 February 2010). "Audit chief took chauffeur-driven car to meeting on saving money". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Luke Salkeld (15 February 2011). "Spending watchdog boss takes £464 chauffeur-driven Mercedes to meeting... on how to SAVE money". Daily Mail; Mail Online website (London: Associated Newspapers Ltd). Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  20. ^ Martin Shipton (4 February 2010). "Auditor General resigns as porn found on laptop". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  21. ^ "Ex-Wales auditor general admits child image offences". BBC News website (BBC). 1 November 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  22. ^ Tom Bodden (31 August 2010). "Welsh university bosses are paid more than First Minister". Daily Post North Wales; Daily Post (North Wales) website (North Wales: Trinity Mirror Ltd). Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  23. ^ Martin Shipton (27 June 2011). "Employers flouting the law on minimum wage". Western Mail; WalesOnline website (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  24. ^ Leanne Wood AM (2008). Making Our Communities Safer (PDF). Plaid Cymru. ISBN 0-905077-80-6. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  25. ^ Leanne Wood AM (2011). A Greenprint for the Valleys. Plaid Cymru. ISBN 0-905077-85-7. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  26. ^ "Plaid Cymru elect Leanne Wood as new leader". BBC News (BBC). 15 March 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "New Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood's Rhondda roots". Wales Online. 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  28. ^ "Leanne’s vision for Plaid". Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  29. ^ Martin Shipton (3 January 2012). "Colleagues back Leanne’s bid". Western Mail; WalesOnlinewebsite (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  30. ^ Martin Shipton (10 January 2012). "Adam Price dubs Plaid leadership contest ‘a two-woman race’ between Leanne Wood and Elin Jones". Western Mail; WalesOnlinewebsite (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  31. ^ "Leanne Wood: Wales has a part to play in future of our sister Celtic state". The Scotsman online (Edinburgh: Johnston Press). 29 June 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  32. ^ Martin Shipton (29 June 2012). "Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says she is happy with Britishness". Western Mail; WalesOnlinewebsite (Cardiff: Media Wales Ltd). Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  33. ^ Leanne Wood (29 June 2012). "Another union is possible". The Slate Blog, Plaid Cymru website. Plaid Cymru. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 

External links[edit]

Offices held[edit]

National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
Pauline Jarman
Assembly Member for South Wales Central
2003–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ieuan Wyn Jones
Leader of Plaid Cymru
2012 -
Succeeded by
Incumbent