Wales politics

Ieuan Wyn Jones: 'Government should be Plaid's mission'

Plaid Cymru should take the opportunity to get back into government if it arises, its outgoing leader has said.

In an interview for BBC Wales' Sunday Politics, Ieuan Wyn Jones says there were things Plaid needed to "get right" after losing seats last year.

"If there was an opportunity obviously for Plaid to go back into government, I think the party should accept that," he said.

His successor take over the party leadership on 15 March.

Asked if he thought Plaid would get the change to regain power through a coalition before the next Welsh assembly election in 2016, Mr Jones replied: "It could, yes, but that depends on circumstances."

Voting is underway to chose the next Plaid leader, with three AMs in the running: Lord Elis-Thomas, Elin Jones and Leanne Wood.

Mr Jones, who led his party into coalition with Labour in 2007, announced he would stand down after disappointing results for the party at last year's election.

He said: "I am not suggesting that (coalition) should happen immediately because I think there were things in the 2011 election that the party needs to get right first before the party thinks about going into coalition.

"But I think the party now has to accept that it's now a party that is looking to be in government.

"In other words that should be its mission, because I believe that significant constitutional change can only happen if Plaid is part of the government of Wales."

'Through the mill'

He also revealed that life as a leader can be "lonely" and that it had put his family "through the mill".

In 2003 there was an attempt to oust him after a previous disappointing election.

"When a party leader is in a vulnerable position, people will want to take advantage of that," he said.

Last June Mr Jones was forced to defend a decision to go on holiday in France instead of attending the assembly's Royal opening.

"It did hurt because I felt that I'd represented the party for 25 years and hadn't missed a single event of importance," he said.

"There are opportunities where frankly you have to put your family first.

"They've been through the mill, they've been through the ups and downs of politics and suddenly you find yourself with an opportunity to put them first and you know, I don't apologise for that at all."

See the interview with Ieuan Wyn Jones and a live debate between Plaid leadership candidates on The Sunday Politics on BBC One Wales at 12:00 GMT on Sunday 26 February

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