Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 16:46 UK

Williams' Lib Dem leadership bid

Kirsty Williams AM
Kirsty Williams announces her leadership intentions in Swansea

Kirsty Williams has confirmed that she will be a candidate to be the next leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The Brecon and Radnorshire AM launched her campaign at a news conference in Swansea and if elected would become the first female leader of a Welsh party.

She said she wanted to "embrace" the party's "talent" and use it to achieve success "in all parts of Wales"

Mike German, who also heads the party's six-strong group of AMs, will stand down as leader next month.

He has led the party's assembly group since Welsh devolution began in 1999 and also became Lib Dem leader in Wales ten months ago, when he took over from Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik.

Party members will be asked to endorse plans to unify the two posts at the Welsh Lib Dem conference in October and to agree that only assembly members can run for the top job.

Answering reporters' questions, Ms Williams rejected a suggestion that, while she was "youthful and feisty" she was not the "strategic thinker" the party needed.

"It took strategic thinking and planning to secure my nomination in Brecon and Radnorshire," she said.

"People then said I would never get it, and I proved them wrong.

"People then said I would never win the constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, and I won it and at successive elections I've gone on to increase my share of the vote

"I don't think you achieve that by simple being 'energetic and feisty'.

"It takes planning, it takes team building and team working and creating a team around you to deliver that kid of success.

"We have such talent in this party and I want to be a leader that embraces that talent and uses that talent to achieve success in all parts of Wales

"I think my pedigree and my track record negates that statement," she added.

Ms Williams opposed last year's failed plan to form a Welsh Assembly Government with Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives.

Aged 37, she has been an AM since 1999 and lives with her husband, Richard, and three young daughters on the family farm near Brecon.

Marketing executive

Born in Somerset, she moved to Carmarthenshire at the age of three, later working for Carmarthenshire College and as a marketing executive in Cardiff before entering full-time politics.

She was a member of the National Assembly Advisory Group (NAAG), which decided the institution's working arrangements when it was created.

Ms Williams speaks for her party on education, the economy and transport matters and is business manager for the Lib Dem AMs.

Her leadership bid has the backing of South Wales West AM Peter Black and Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates is also expected to support her.

But is not yet clear whether Ms Williams will face a fight for the job.

Under current rules candidates to be group leader need to be endorsed by another Lib Dem AM.

But this requirement could be dropped for the new role making it easier for other politicians to stand.

Cardiff Central AM Jenny Randerson is still thinking about whether or not to throw her hat into the ring.

In a statement Ms Randerson said: "At this stage I have not yet reached a decision regarding the party leadership but I will consider the options over the coming weeks.

"It is unlikely that I will make any further statement or comment in the immediate future.

"People should be very clear that currently I am not ruling myself out nor am I ruling myself in."

North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham is understood to want to stand but to be unsure whether she will be nominated.


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