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'No such thing as a niche issue' - Leanne Wood vows to fight for minority rights despite criticism from her own party

Credit: ITV News

Leanne Wood is used her first conference speech since being ousted as Plaid Cymru leader to hit back at some of the criticism she received during the leadership election campaign.

In her speech she said that there's 'no such thing as a niche issue in Wales' and that campaigning for the rights of trans people and the rights of women to be free from violence is 'central' to Plaid's cause.

Her comments formed a direct response to remarks made by the Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards in an interview with Wales Online in July.

The MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr said in that interview, 'Leanne seems more concerned about the niche issues that interest her, but what Wales needs in this desperate [Brexit] crisis is real leadership.'

In her speech to the party's conference in Cardigan, the AM for the Rhondda said campaigning on those issues is part and parcel of Plaid's long-term ambition for Wales to be independent.

There is no such thing as a niche issue in Wales. I’ve been criticised by some for focussing too much of my energy and time on these issues that some have dismissed as unimportant to our cause.

But to me, building a society where trans people can be themselves, where women are free from violence and the far right don’t threaten our communities is part of our central cause.

Because we want an independent Wales in order to create a better society, for everyone. Because real independence, is not just about our Powers, our Senedd or our Prif Weinidog.

It’s really about our croeso, our values of peace, socialism and republicanism. It’s about independent thought, meddwl annibynnol.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru

When I interviewed her last week, Leanne Wood said she has no intention of leaving politics and that she would seek to use her high public profile to continue to work in and campaign for communities across Wales.

She's had a similar message for her party:

Wales is a community of communities, and if we can get our austerity-hit and neglected communities to empower themselves and ending their dependence – and most importantly that dependence of the mind - then we will have got those all-important foundations in place to do the same as a nation.

Conference, believe it or not, most people don’t want to go to a branch meeting. But people will get involved in a project that has a tangible benefit to their local community.

Through Plaid Cymru activists and those who share our values getting involved with and leading these projects, we forge new links, start new conversations and change people’s minds about the kind of society we can be.

For me, politics is not about the machinations in the corridors of power, but the difference we make in our communities.

This is an important thing for us to remember as a party. Lle ni’n gweithio, ni’n ennill - Where we work, we win.

Where we organise, we win. When we take our positive message and progressive politics into our communities – wherever they are in Wales – we win.

We know this. And I’m determined to continue to build on the success we have seen in the Rhondda, Ynys Mon, Carmarthen East and other parts of Wales.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru