Journalist and former politician
Leanne Wood was born in 1971 in Llwynypia, Wales. She was a Member of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) from 2003–2021. She served as the leader of Plaid Cymru and Leader of the Opposition in Wales from 2012 to 2018. She is a columnist for The National and hosts the Leanne Wood Podcast.
Leanne was brought up and still lives in the nearby village of Penygraig and educated at Tonypandy Comprehensive School (now Tonypandy Community College), before attending the University of South Wales.
Before her election to the Senedd in 2003, Leanne worked as a professional tutor and lectured in social policy at Cardiff University. She also worked as a probation officer and a support worker for Cwm Cynon Women's Aid during 2001 and 2002.
Wood is best known for her tenure as the first female leader of Plaid Cymru from 2012 to 2018. Her leadership platform included a call for ‘real independence’, emphasising economic and environmental concerns alongside Plaid Cymru’s aim of an independent Wales. Originally elected via proportional representation as an Additional Member for the South Wales Central region, she was later elected constituency Senedd member for Rhondda.
As an MS, Leanne spoke up on a number of occasions for inclusive schools in Wales. After supporting a popular petition from Welsh school children Rhiannon and Lily to end compulsory collective worship in Wales, she attempted to hold the Welsh Government to account on the issue in subsequent parliamentary sessions. In 2019, she said:
‘I just can’t understand why, in 2019, with everything that we understand about the need to include people, you would insist on one particular form of religious assembly when there are plenty of other ways that you can do this. I’ve got a great amount of sympathy with the petitioners, and it sounds to me as if the Minister is trying to stall.’
In 2020, she spoke out against the law again, citing that the compulsorily Christian aspect of collective worship conveys ‘that Christianity tops all of the other religions and that undermines the message that you are giving in your religious education.’
Leanne has been heavily involved in the trade union movement and was previously the chair of the all-party PCS Union group in the Assembly. During her time in the Senedd, she was responsible for the Sustainability, Environment, Social Justice, and Housing portfolios for Plaid Cymru. Outside of politics, her interests include learning Welsh and gardening.