Wednesday, 28 October 2020

La Pasionaria (Kirsty Williams) to stand down from Senedd.

 So sole Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd member and Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced she is stepping down at next May's election.

Ms Williams is the only Lib Dem in the Welsh Parliament and has represented Brecon and Radnorshire since the then Assembly first met 1999.

She said she was "looking forward to spending more time with my family".

"There is, of course, sadness in making this decision, but also with a sense of achievement and pride," Ms Williams said.

"I remain committed to my role in Brecon and Radnorshire and look forward to continuing to campaign with my successor to ensure Brecon and Radnorshire returns a Welsh Liberal Democrat voice."

She said she had taken the decision "after a great deal of thought and reflection".

In 2006 she was voted member to watch leading to this cartoon

On the opposition benches she was one of the most effective , to the extent that I nicknamed her La Pasionaria especially when it came to the NHS and Education.

However the Mumph carton has proven prophetic as there is only one of her and without any colleagues chances of  getting called to speak would be small.

So Ms Williams is in Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford's cabinet, in a continuation of a deal originally agreed by previous Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones following the 2016 election..

She has an undoubtable personal  following in her constituency 

Welsh Assembly Election 2016: Brecon and Radnorshire[1]
Liberal DemocratsKirsty Williams15,89852.4+9.3
ConservativeGary Price7,72825.4−7.9
LabourAlex Thomas2,7038.9−8.0
UKIPThomas Turton2,1617.1+7.1
Plaid CymruFreddy Greaves1,1803.9−2.8
GreenGrenville Ham6972.3+2.3
Liberal Democrats holdSwing+8.6

but whether it will reflect on her successor may doubtful in 2019 the Liberal Democrats gained the seat only to lose it a few months later 

2019 Brecon and Radnorshire by-election[33][34][35]
Liberal DemocratsJane Dodds13,82643.5+14.4
ConservativeChristopher Davies12,40139.0−9.6
Brexit PartyDes Parkinson3,33110.5N/A
LabourTom Davies1,6805.3−12.4
Monster Raving LoonyLady Lily the Pink3341.0N/A
UKIPLiz Phillips2420.7−0.7
Rejected ballots73
Registered electors
Liberal Democrats gain from ConservativeSwing+12.0

vote share are compared to the 2017 general election, not the 2019 by-election.

General election 2019: Brecon and Radnorshire[36][37][38]
ConservativeFay Jones21,95853.1+4.5
Liberal DemocratsJane Dodds14,82735.9+6.8
LabourTomos Davies3,9449.5−8.2
Monster Raving LoonyLady Lily the Pink3450.8N/A
ChristianJeff Green2450.6N/A
Rejected ballots110
Registered electors55,490
Conservative holdSwing-1.1

Based on the last Welsh polls here are the figures for the constituency ballot (with changes in support since June once again indicated in brackets):

Labour: 34% (no change)

Conservatives: 29% (-2)

Plaid Cymru: 24% (+2)

Brexit Party: 4% (+1)

Liberal Democrats: 3% (-2)

Greens: 3% (no change)

Others: 3% (no change)

And fo the region

Labour: 33% (+1)

Conservatives: 27% (-1)

Plaid Cymru: 23% (-1)

Abolish the Assembly: 4% (no change)

Brexit Party: 4% (+1)

Greens: 4% (+1)

Liberal Democrats: 3% (-2)

Others: 2% (+1)

So if the Liberal Democrats where to loose Brecon and Radnor , then the chances of making it up making it up in the Mid and West Wales region (currently predicted as  3 Labour, 1 Conservative) could see another party gaining a seat rather than the Liberal Democrats , who are predicted to wn no regional seats.

An astonishing result which could see the Liberal Democrats with no Parliamentary seats in neither Westminster nor Cardiff.

Of course Ms Williams may be considering running for Westminster but that will not  be Thursday 2 May 2024, in line with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. and three years without a platform may see her personal  following fade.

Mr Drakeford said of La Pasionaria's  departure would..

.."leave an enormous hole - not just in the Welsh Government but in the Senedd and in Welsh political life".

"She was a formidable politician in opposition but she has demonstrated her real strength has been in putting into practice the progressive policies for which she has long argued," he said.

Paul Davies, Conservative leader in the Welsh Parliament, said she had been a
"tireless champion of her constituency and a passionate and formidable politician over the last two decades."

Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman Siân Gwenllian said: 

"Her contribution to the Senedd has been significant, not least in the legacy she will leave in ensuring women's voices were heard clearly from the outset, and all this whilst raising a family - certainly no mean feat!"  

 Political Obituaries , are nearly always praiseworthy , but in the case of La Pasionaria (probably the last time I use it) it is heartfelt.

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