The Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has announced that he will stand for the leadership of his party.
The Ynys Môn MS said "now is the time" to unite Plaid Cymru following a decision by the party's former leader Adam Price to quit earlier this month.
Mr Price had intended to carry on in post despite a critical report which revealed a “toxic culture” of bullying and harassment within Plaid Cymru.However some fellow Senedd members said they had lost confidence in his leadership causing him to step down.
He was replaced by Llŷr Gruffydd as interim leader. Those who want to take on the top job have until June 16th to put forward their names.It’s not yet clear if another candidate or candidates will also stand and there’s a division of opinion within the party about whether or not there should be a contest or a “coronation.”Rhun ap Iorwerth, who is currently the party’s health spokesperson in the Senedd and who came second in the 2021 contest, has long been considered to be able to command widespread support if he were to stand in this election.However his stated aim of becoming Anglesey’s member of parliament was a barrier: Plaid Cymru’s leaders must be Senedd Members not MPs.Rhun ap Iorwerth is a former journalist who had been BBC Wales’ chief political correspondent as well as taking on BBC network roles.He became Ynys Môn’s MS after winning a by-election in 2013.
In a post on social media on Tuesday, he said: "In recent weeks, we in Plaid Cymru, have found ourselves at a crossroads facing head on and immediately challenges with culture within the party. This is our turn and we are serious about the task ahead."
"We remain as committed as ever to the future of Wales. I have no doubt Wales needs a Plaid Cymru that is fit and ready to offer a vision of what Wales could be.
"Confident, fair, green, prosperous and with the tools at our disposal right now on the journey to independence."
"I'm grateful to Adam for the leadership and Llyr for taking the reins. As I look to the period ahead, I see talent, ideas and energy at all levels.
"Every strong team needs leadership, and if I can offer leadership with them - with you - I'm ready to do so and I'm excited about being able to do so.
"My country means so much to me - from here to the South Wales valleys, now is the time to unite Plaid Cymru so we can lead the work of building a new future for Wales."
Analysis from Political Editor Adrian Masters
Rhun ap Iorwerth has become the first Plaid Cymru politician to put his name forward for his party’s leadership contest, but could he also be the last?
There’s a division of opinion between members, with some thinking the best way for their party to unite after a time of deep despair and division is to avoid a competition which could be damaging.
They point to what happened within the SNP when Nicola Sturgeon stepped down and also the very profound problems they have to deal with in terms of creating a new culture to replace that which was described as “toxic”, as well as handling some historic complaints.
Others are sympathetic to the idea of avoiding a potentially painful leadership contest but also acknowledge it could look like a stitch-up if the entire Senedd group swing behind a single candidate and present their choice to the membership.
There is also a feeling amongst some within Plaid Cymru that Rhun ap Iorwerth represents a wing of the party they consider to the right of the politics they espouse.
He has repeatedly denied those accusations while other senior figures insist that Plaid Cymru is a party of the left which isn’t about to change direction radically, whoever leads the party and that this contest is about personalities and priorities rather than politics of the sort that the UK Labour Party has been grappling with in recent years.
So who else might be in the running? Nobody has yet stated publicly that they intend to stand, although some have ruled themselves out: former leader, Adam Price, obviously; Llywydd Elin Jones and the interim leader Llŷr Gruffydd who can’t stand under newly-adopted rules.
It has to be a Senedd member, which rules out MPs and councillors.
Senior party figures say the Senedd group has many talented members although most are relatively inexperienced.
Two who have been frequently mentioned as possible candidates, Delyth Jewell and Heledd Fychan, have ruled themselves out. Mabon ap Gwynfor is said by a number of people to be mulling a run. They’ve said nothing in public. Others who’ve been asked, such as Cefin Campbell, have not committed themselves either way.
We’ll find out within the next couple of weeks. Nominations close on June 16th, with a result expected by the summer.