Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams to step down

Kirsty Williams has announced she'll leave the Senedd next May.
Source: Liberal Democrats, via. Flickr.
By Morgan Perry | Political Editor

Member of the Senedd for Brecon and Radnorshire, Kirsty Williams has announced that she won’t seek re-election at the Senedd elections in May 2021. 

Williams announced the news by way of a tweet, which included a copy of the letter that was sent to the Chair of Brecon and Radnorshire Liberal Democrats, Jackie Charlton.

The letter opened: “Next May it will have been 22 years since I was first elected to represent the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.

“Being the family of a politician is never easy. I must thank my husband and three wonderful daughters for their patients, and at times resilience, that they have shown over these years,” she added. 

“It is with them in mind that, after a great deal of thought and reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate at the next Senedd elections. 

“The next candidate, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, will have my abiding support and I will be out there campaigning as ever”. 

A Senedd ever-present

Kirsty Williams was first elected to the Senedd in 1999 and is one of the few members that has been re-elected every election since. She has served in the Senedd for twenty-two years. 

Prior to running in the then Welsh Assembly elections, Williams sought electoral success in the South Wales parliamentary seat of Ogmore. Standing for the Liberal Democrats, she finished third.

That success was not far away, however, and Williams was successfully elected to the new Assembly in May 1999, where she has remained ever since. 

By 2008, Williams had been elected the first female leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, a post she held until May 2016, after a more-than-disappointing result in the Assembly elections. By this point, Williams was the party’s only remaining Member of the Senedd. 

Whilst the party hadn’t performed so well, Williams was asked to join the Welsh Government cabinet by outgoing First Minister Carwyn Jones, where she sat alongside Welsh Labour, and provided them with their necessary majority as the Minister for Education.

So far this year alone, Williams has overseen the educational response to the Coronavirus, as well as the controversy over the summer GCSE and A-level results. Most recently, she announced a £10m fund for education institutions in Wales to support students and their mental health during the pandemic. 

A “tireless champion of her community”

The response of Members of the Senedd, MPs and others across the political community paid tribute to Williams’ devotion to the people of Wales, and her Senedd constituency.

Paul Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, tweeted: “Regardless of our political differences, she has been a tireless champion of her constituency and a passionate and formidable politician over the last two decades.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris praised Williams’ “unwavering commitment to public service”. 

Williams’ decision not to stand could leave the Liberal Democrats without any representation in the Senedd. Indeed, the latest polling shows that the party was due to return just one MS – likely to be Williams – though her seat could now be all to play for. 

Providing the Senedd elections aren’t delayed, all will become clear in just over seven months’ time. 

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.

Politics Morgan Perry

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