Here is Leanne’s acceptance speech in full from last night’s Welsh Politician of the Year Awards, where she won AM of the Year for her campaigning in the Rhondda.
The first election I remember was the 1987 General Election.
I was 15.
I’d met my own MP on the campaign trail and was thrilled when he, alongside the MP for Blaenau Gwent, had among the biggest majorities in the whole of the UK. The Rhondda had the HIGHEST.
Fast forward to 2016 – how things change.
Blaenau Gwent and the Rhondda were the two seats where Plaid Cymru came knocking on Labour’s door.
We didn’t quite make it in Blaenau Gwent this time, but we did in the Rhondda. And we caused the shock of the night.
It would be wrong to claim this award for myself. I had a great team in the Rhondda – and you haven’t heard the last from us.
I’ve also got a great team of staff around me that I love working with – so a big diolch yn fawr iawn to all of you.
When I first announced that I was standing in the Rhondda, we were dismissed.
This is what was said –
"This announcement shows just how little faith the Plaid Cymru candidate has in her own ability to win in 2016 and it's cost what little leadership credibility she had. Standing in Rhondda is no more than a political stunt. It’s clear that she plans to get back into the Assembly on the Regional List and the people of the Rhondda will soon see through that.”
And my favourite has to be the simple tweet that just said “BRING…IT…ON.”
Well, we did.
And the demand for change which came to a head on the 23rd of June was palpable in the Rhondda in the months before – which just goes to show that those people who don’t want the status quo don’t have to go far-right.
In the Rhondda – people went the other way.
So I accept this award:
on behalf of my team
on behalf of my staff
on behalf of my fantastically supportive family
and on behalf of every single person in the Rhondda and anywhere else in this country who has ever been told YOU CAN’T.
NEVER let anyone tell you that you CAN’T.
If you want something – work for it. Let no-one tell you it’s impossible, whatever it is.
This award and our result in the Rhondda shows that nothing is impossible.
So even on those darkest days – and I’m sure there are many of you who felt
We’ve had some dark days recently - such as the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the EU referendum.
But no matter how dark, or difficult, or dirty, or divisive our politics might seem today – however impossible turning this tide might seem – REMEMBER – there is hope.
So to every working class person, to all the people of colour – and especially the women and the girls - nothing is impossible.
You CAN do it, just like we did in the Rhondda.
DIOLCH YN FAWR.
If you have been inspired by Leanne and want to help the Plaid Cymru campaign in the forthcoming local elections, please get involved by clicking the following link.