Wales politics

Plaid Cymru: Simon Thomas pulls out of leadership race

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Simon Thomas has pulled out of the contest to lead his party.

His withdrawal leaves three candidates in the running - Leanne Wood, Elin Jones and Lord Elis-Thomas.

Mr Thomas said he would support Ceredigion AM Ms Jones as her deputy on a joint ticket.

A successor to current leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is standing down after 10 years at the helm, will be announced on 15 March.

Mr Thomas secured the fewest nominations from the party's branches and constituencies. He had two nominations, compared to Ms Wood's 14. Ms Jones had five and Lord Elis-Thomas four.

A former Ceredigion MP, Mr Thomas was previously a special adviser to Plaid ministers in their coalition with Labour during the last assembly.

Party members will elect the next leader through the alternative vote system, with candidates ranked in order of preference.

In a statement he said: "One thing is for certain, Plaid Cymru will not achieve government or electoral success by playing Fisher Price politics with people's hopes and dreams."

'Credible policies'

Candidates must have "credible and realistic policies", he said.

Mr Thomas spoke to reporters in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay alongside Ms Jones.

Asked if their campaign was intended to stop Ms Wood, he said: "No, it's the get Elin elected campaign."

He pointed out that many large branches had not nominated candidates.

He said the party should be led from its "centre of gravity, which is itself left of centre in the European political tradition".

Ms Jones said: "We want to turn Plaid into a modern, 21st Century political party, providing the only credible challenge to Labour in Wales.

"We want to see Plaid Cymru govern Wales again and ultimately ensure its transformation into a successful, sustainable, independent country.

"Our political ambition is bold and radical, but it is also relevant to people's everyday lives and hopes."

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