A UK media profile was needed to make Leanne Wood a recognisable figure in Wales, the former Plaid Cymru leader has revealed. 

Speaking during the Hay Festival the politician, who lost her Rhondda seat at the most recent Senedd elections, said when she led Plaid Cymru it developed a strategy to gain her airtime on UK wide programmes as the Welsh media was too “weak” for her to become a household name. 

She told the Hay Festival: “We took a strategic decision to break through on a UK level as we recognised the media in Wales was pretty weak and to speak to people in Wales I needed to go to London. 

“We did a lot of work to try to get on programmes run from, or based, in London and it worked. I’m now very well recognised in Wales and as a result I don’t have to introduce myself on a doorstep, people know who I am even with a mask and sunglasses on.” 

The woman, who led Plaid from 2012 to 2018, was speaking in a pre-recorded event at the online Hay Festival with the actor and political activist Michael Sheen and professor Daniel G Williams discussing the life and work of the late Welsh socialist academic Raymond Williams. 

The host, Professor Williams, had described Wood as the first Plaid Cymru leader to break through into the British consciousness due her appearances in TV debates during the 2015 and 2017 UK general elections. 

Wood said the strategy to break through in the UK media had been a “good way” of getting people to know about: “Plaid Cymru, Welsh politics and Welsh socialism in a way they may not have before”. 

She added: “It shows that we do need to do more to strengthen the Welsh media.” 


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During the hour long discussion Wood also revealed that she had been inspired to read Williams’ work by her late partner Ceri Evans, who died aged 36, in 2002. 

Ms Wood said she at first struggled to understand Williams' writing but had revisited it following her then partner’s death. 

“Ceri was a massive Raymond Williams fan, and I went back and put more effort in and I was able to understand it in a different way.” 

Willaims who had been a supporter of both Labour and later Plaid had written extensively on Welsh history, or as Sheen remarked “Welsh histories”. Wood said she was first attracted to his writing because: “Williams was a bridge between working class socialists and Welshness and that was a bridge I wanted to cross.” 

Wood said the writer and dramatist had also talked a lot about the “democratisation” of the media and said she would like to be able to have a conversation with him about social media which she said has made the media more accessible but also created new issues of abuse and trolling. 

Sheen said he had read Williams’ writings, which he estimated were from the early 1980s, and noted his excitement about the emergence of cable television and how it could create mass media that isn’t intended for large audiences. 

Williams had noted that Welsh history testifies to a "quite extraordinary process of self-generation and regeneration, from what seemed impossible conditions." 

Sheen said that is again being shown to be true as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Professor Daniel G Williams has published a new centenary edition of Raymond Williams’ collected writings on Wales, Who Speaks For Wales? Nation, Culture, Identity.  

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