Kirsty’s win – what folk are saying

by Stephen Tall on December 9, 2008

Congratulations from all at Lib Dem Voice to Kirsty Williams on becoming the first elected female leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. There’s more coverage over at the Welsh Lib Dems website, but here’s a few brief snippets from today’s papers:

Kirsty Williams makes political history (WalesOnline.co.uk)

KIRSTY WILLIAMS made history yesterday as she won the battle to become the new leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats – and with it the first woman ever to lead a major party in Wales.
She defeated former acting Deputy First Minister Jenny Randerson by 910 votes to 612 to succeed Mike German.

Ms Williams, 37, responded to her victory by vowing to fight all three of the Lib Dems’ rival parties. The Brecon & Radnorshire AM said: “My message to the other political parties is ‘Watch out – we are coming to get you’.”

Williams election ‘breaks mould’ (BBC.co.uk)
Kirsty Williams said she had “broken the mould” after being elected Wales’ first female party leader in the Welsh Liberal Democrat leadership contest. … Ms Williams, aged 37, launched her leadership bid saying she wanted to embrace the party’s talent to achieve success “in all parts of Wales”. … She said her party had to reach out to people who felt let down by politics and the assembly and she had “something unique to offer the people of Wales”.

“As a party we have broken the mould today by electing a woman,” she said. “If you have been turned off by politics, by the way the Labour Party has let Wales down, or the Conservatives’ attitude, or Plaid’s abandonment of principles, then come. We will re-ignite the flame of liberalism that once burnt so bright in this country. I am determined as leader of this party that the Welsh Liberal Democrats will blaze a trail for a new politics in Wales.”

First female leader for Welsh Lib Dems (The Guardian)
Williams said Randerson would have a “big role” to play in her team when she compiled it over the next few days. With few policy differences between the two candidates, the campaign has largely been about how the party gets its message across. Both pledged to increase the Lib Dems’ representation in the assembly, where they have flatlined at six members since its creation.

The party was frozen out of government last summer when a split among Lib Dem chiefs sank a three-party coalition with Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives. Unlike her opponent, Williams opposed the so-called rainbow coalition with the nationalists and Tories.

She has promised a “fresh start” for her party, saying it must target winnable seats instead of relying on complicated strategies to harness the assembly’s part-PR system for regional AMs. One of her first tasks will be to challenge the first minister, Rhodri Morgan, at his weekly questions session in the Senedd chamber tomorrow.

Leader! (Peter Black AM)

It was a hard fought election in which both candidates did themselves and the party much credit. I think that the difference lay in the quality of Kirsty’s literature and in the candidate herself.

Members looking for change recognised that the best way of getting it was to elect somebody who had a proven record of campaigning in both urban and rural Wales and who was sufficiently different to what had gone before and to the other party leaders so as to give the Welsh Liberal Democrats a distinctive edge.

Nick Clegg (Lib Dem website)

“Kirsty’s election as leader is excellent news for the Welsh Liberal Democrats and for Wales. I know that Kirsty will be a strong champion for liberal values in the Senedd, helping to make Wales a fairer and greener nation.

“Kirsty has a strong record on the issues that matter most to the people of Wales, taking the fight to both Labour and Plaid Cymru in their heartlands. I am looking forward to working with Kirsty to further the values and policies of the Liberal Democrats across the whole of Wales.”