Plaid Cymru member won’t stand again in 2021 – Senedd not ‘family friendly’

Bethan Sayed. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Plaid Cymru MS Bethan Sayed has announced she will not be seeking re-election to the Senedd in next May’s elections.

She has represented the South Wales West Region as a Member of the Senedd since 2007 and when elected was the youngest member at the age of only 25.

Bethan Sayed gave birth to a son in March and said that the Senedd was still not “family friendly” and that there was still “a long way to go” in making it so.

“I do feel regret that, unfortunately, this is in part a decision that could be different if we had a better set up here in Wales,” she said.

“Perhaps if there had been a job share opportunity – something that’s been discussed for several years – I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother.

“Perhaps if parties had worked to increase the size of the Senedd in time for the next term, so that the evr increasing workloads could have been better shared, my decision may have been different.

“But I want this time for my family now. It’s difficult enough for parents to juggle work and family life, and as much as many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family friendly, I don’t think it is, yet, sadly. There is still a long way to go.”

 

‘Tone’

Bethan Sayed also said that the “relentlessly negative nature of politics at this time” had taken a toll.

“While there is plenty to be angry and concerned about in politics, there are ways to effect change and talk to each other without the charged, aggressive and often mean-spirited tone, that too many take as a first step – particularly online,” she said.

“With politics and debate overwhelmingly featured in online spaces, we have to try to find common ground where we can, and change the tone of the debate.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price paid tribute to Bethan Sayed after her announcement.

“As its youngest ever member when elected, Bethan was a ground-breaking politician from the start,” he said.

“She has stood out as a tireless campaigner in her region and beyond, fighting on behalf of the workers of Ford, Visteon and Tata Steel.

“Serving as chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee Bethan has diligently led the work of the Senedd in scrutinising the Welsh Government’s decisions on these important matters. More recently, Bethan championed the pioneering idea of introducing locums to cover Senedd Members’ maternity leave.

“On behalf of Plaid Cymru I would like to thank Bethan for her contribution to Welsh public life and from the Plaid Cymru family to her and her family, I send Bethan our warmest wishes.”

‘Pragmatic’

Conservative Health Spokesman Andrew RT Davies MS said that Bethan Sayed had made a big mark on Welsh politics, and had led the way on key issues such as eating disorders.

“I’m shocked and sorry Bethan is leaving the Senedd, but there is no better reason than for family,” he said.

“A pragmatic and highly effective politician, we usually found ourselves on different sides of the political debate but when we did agree I thoroughly enjoyed working with you.

“We entered the Assembly at the same time and sat on the first ever petitions committee which also paved the way for the carrier bag levy. Wishing you and your family all the best.”

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