There are few constants in politics.

Pauline Jarman has been a constant for me - and she’ll continue to be, despite losing her council seat in Mountain Ash.

When I first joined Plaid Cymru in 1991, Pauline was a Mid Glamorgan county councillor.

In our constituency meetings, we were regaled with stories of Pauline saying it like it is in the chamber, tying various opposition councillors up in knots, making good use of her photographic memory.

Back then, in the 1990s, she already had twenty years worth of experience in local government.

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Sometimes her job was a lonely one, with too few Plaid Cymru councillors by her side. In those circumstances she had to familiarise herself with a range of briefs to make sure everything was covered.

At other times, she was the leader of a huge pack.

She became my leader when I was elected to the RCT shadow authority in 1995, which had just been set up following local government reorganisation. I was 25, and loved that we had a woman leading us - our group was very different to the stuffy old boys club across the chamber.

Pauline’s contributions on the council were forensic, witty and knowledgable, often drawing on history, but always with the people in the communities she worked for at the forefront.

Our effectiveness as a Plaid group on RCT council led to a successful election result in 1999.

Not only did we capture the Assembly seat with Geraint Davies in the Rhondda, but Pauline was elected as an AM on the regional list, and we won enough council seats to take control of the council.

All on the same day. 

A few days later, and Pauline is prising open the Labour mayor’s drinks cabinet and posing for the press, surrounded by booze. Needless to say the contents of the cabinet were auctioned off and proceeds given to charity.

How Pauline managed to lead the second largest local authority in Wales, as well as represent her constituents in the Senedd, I don’t know.

Her good friend, driver - and minder, as we used to joke - John Codd, was a great help to her in those years.

Pauline decided not to run again for the Assembly in 2003 to focus on leading the council.

In the statement announcing her decision, she said she wanted to make way for a younger generation of candidates. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that, because it provided the opportunity for me to run for the regional list and I was elected.

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When I got to the assembly, Pauline was always there - and she was there for many others, nurturing and mentoring, the font of all knowledge that we could get in touch with at any time.

The one-liners that would sum up a political situation and devastate the opposition. Her mischievousness; the time she won damages after the opposition had misrepresented her, donating the financial award to a donkey sanctuary.

She has never been afraid to speak truth to power.

This Plaid Cymru woman from the valleys has made a real mark on many people and on politics. Her like is rare.

Diolch am bopeth Pauline. Ti’n werth y byd.

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