Welsh Assembly leader polls ‘opportunity to change politics’


Diversity in politics graphic

Leadership contenders in the three main parties in Wales have been urged to “change the face of Welsh politics” by promoting diversity and tolerance.

The Electoral Reform Society Cymru called on all Labour, Conservative and Plaid Cymru hopefuls to back its ideas.

It wants 45% of assembly candidates to be women, action to encourage minorities and a crack down on abuse.

Director Jess Blair said the leadership elections provided an “unprecedented opportunity” to tackle inequality.

The society has written to all the candidates asking them to sign up to a series of commitments on diversity prior to becoming leader.

In July, the Electoral Reform Society Cymru warned that “shocking” levels of harassment and abuse were putting people off running for political office.

“We know that politics currently fails to properly represent the communities we have,” Ms Blair said, pointing out there had never been a non-white female member of the assembly.

“Tackling the barriers to getting better representation in Welsh politics could change the very foundation of our democracy.

“In addition, we also know the levels of abuse and harassment politicians face are untenable. At present, there seems to be a real lack of appetite to do anything about this.

“These candidates have a duty to step up on this issue and make substantive commitments that could change the face of Welsh politics and make it work so much better for the people of Wales.”



Several politicians have spoken of being harassed via social media

For Labour, five contenders have come forward to succeed Carwyn Jones, who is stepping down at the end of the year after nine years as first minister.

Two Conservatives are bidding to replace Andrew RT Davies who resigned in June, while two Plaid Cymru AMs are challenging Leanne Wood for her leadership of the party.

On Friday, UKIP AM Gareth Bennett was named winner of a three-way contest to lead the party’s Senedd group following a ballot of grassroots members.