There aren't many leaders of political parties in Britain who proclaim themselves proudly as socialists and develop a habit of writing in the Morning Star and speaking at our paper's conferences.
That description applies to recently elected Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood who upset the applecart by romping home in a three-horse race to take the reins of the Welsh nationalist party.
Her candidature was welcomed by the left within Plaid and further afield in Wales, but the fear was that this breath of fresh air might be squeezed out in the second round of voting.
In the event, after Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas was eliminated in the first round, Wood ran out a comfortable winner by 3,326 votes to 2,879 for Elin Jones.
In so doing, she became the first ever Plaid leader not to be a native Welsh speaker, although she is an enthusiastic learner of Europe's oldest living language.
Her relationship to the language mirrors her geographical roots in the mainly English-speaking Rhondda Valley village of Penygraig rather than the western and north-western strongholds of party and language.
The Rhondda was synonymous with coalmining for a century and a half, with the last pit Maerdy closing after the 1984-5 strike. It was solidly Labour with strong Communist Party activity.
However, despite her socialist inclination, Wood chose to join Plaid when she became politically active at the Polytechnic of Wales in the early 1990s.
She was active in student campaigns in opposition to the introduction of student loans and the freezing of maintenance grants, conceding wryly that, in light of the current abolition of grants and the imposition of exorbitant tuition fees, her period as a student almost counts now as the good old days.
The Plaid leader looks back at that time, in the wake of the 1984-5 miners' strike, the high level of unemployment that impacted on many of her friends, the farcical youth training schemes amid mass youth unemployment and says: "All had a part to play in shaping my politics."
She is determined to do something to help the current generation to stand up to the Con-Dem austerity agenda.
"I've argued that we should put the economy at the heart of our next phase, that the weaknesses in the Welsh economy and the continuing decline in west Wales and the Valleys is not sustainable," she says.
"We've got to turn that around. The assembly needs the economic tools to effect change in terms of the economy."
This is not a new departure since Wood was central to a Plaid consultation document, A Greenprint for the Valleys, published in March last year, suggesting local co-operative solutions with a green flavour, taking in food production, low-cost energy and transport.
While she seeks an improvement in the current financial settlement between Westminster and Cardiff Bay, she believes that much could be done under current arrangements, including local procurement.
"So much money spent by the public sector in Wales leaves Wales. So much more could be done to lock this into local economy to ensure that people are employed locally, that they spend the money locally and that the money multiplies locally."
While recognising that there are rules constraining local public procurement, Wood believes that a lot can be done within existing rules and points to examples elsewhere in the EU where local public procurement has been successful.
Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party have both drawn flak from left-wing critics of the EU for their shared goal of "independence in the European Union" and, while Wood mentions her MEP colleague Jill Evans's efforts to push "policies more in tune with needs of people rather than corporations," she acknowledges that "concerning things have been happening at EU level."
She cites elected heads of government in Greece and Italy being replaced by unelected bankers' representatives.
"For a small nation that has an aspiration to be independent and to take decisions for ourselves, we'll be watching developments very clearly," she declares.
"We don't know where things are going to end up in the EU, especially in the short term, but I've been critical in the past of the central thinking behind the EU project, that it doesn't put people first.
"I'd like to see us do more linking up with other small nations in Europe and to think about how we ensure that Europe acts in the people's interest."
Plaid no longer shares government in Wales, having had a poor result in 2010, when Labour won half the seats in the Senedd and proceeded to govern as a minority administration.
At the previous election, an inconclusive result had thrown up two possible scenarios - a Labour-Plaid coalition or a so-called "rainbow coalition" of the Tories, Liberal Democrats and Plaid.
Wood was quick out of the traps to dismiss power-sharing with the Tories and she plans a motion to her party's next conference ruling that out, certainly for the next assembly elections.
"My feeling is that Plaid Cymru politics is incompatible with the way the Tories see the world on constitutional and social grounds, especially under the new leadership of the Conservative Party in Wales," she says in reference to Thatcherite throwback Andrew RT Davies.
Wood regards the Labour-Plaid coalition as having achieved a great deal for Wales, based on the jointly agreed One Wales programmatic document.
She lists quickly measures taken to protect the future of Welsh, the successful referendum on legislative powers for the Wales Assembly and taking marketisation and PFI out of the health service in Wales.
"I am proud of those achievements," she beams, adding: "We can say that we have succeeded in depoliticising the language in that there are no longer party political
battles over the language as there have been in the past.
"We've also managed to persuade other parties to look at how Wales is funded, so we've reached our short-term goals. Now we need to look at where we¹re going next."
As to whether that might include a coalition Mk II, Wood is cautious, offering: "I wouldn't want to rule anything in or out.
"I'd be prepared to co-operate on a case-by-case basis on matters that can benefit people in Wales.
"That's the key test basically - how does whatever proposal benefit people in Wales and take Wales forward. Unless we can show that, then I think that we should be a bit more arm's length."
One problem, of course, is that with Labour no longer in office at Westminster, it is not in a position to deliver some of Plaid's key demands such as devolution of the criminal justice system, devolution of major energy consents, the single transferable vote variant of PR for elections in Wales and progress towards financial autonomy.
However, the positive legacy of the One Wales coalition, coupled with Labour's minority government status, may yet propel the two parties into each other's arms again.
Wood achieved a brief shock-horror media moment in 2004 when ordered by presiding officer Lord Elis-Thomas to leave the chamber for referring to the Queen as Mrs Windsor, although there was little public fuss in Wales.
"I had some correspondence from members of the public who didn't agree with what I'd said, but I responded by saying that I'd called the monarch by her name rather than her title. I said that I was a republican and that I'd like to see Wales become a republic in the future.
"That said, I've no ill will against the individuals involved. I don't feel any animosity to them. It's the institution that is antiquated and probably the biggest symbol of inequality that we have."
Despite the artificially stoked hysteria of the London media, Wood sees economic questions as more important.
"Can people afford to put food on the table? Can they afford to pay the electric bills or gas? Will my son ever get a job? They're the real questions that people are struggling with. To be honest, the questions about the monarchy are a bit of a sideshow really."
She kicked off her party leadership on a high, with her first official engagement being to congratulate the Grand Slam-winning Welsh rugby side at the Senedd two days after watching their victory on TV at home with the family in the Rhondda.
"It was a pretty special first engagement for me," she recalls.
So will she still be available to write for the Morning Star and speak at our conferences? Yes is the answer.
"I'm still keen to collaborate with people in other parties and organisations and to build coalitions, especially at local level, around single issues of mutual interest.
"That makes for good politics. I'm always keen to debate, as you would see if you were a friend of mine on Facebook," she smiles.
And, given her view that new media, blogging, Facebook and so on are very important democratic means of communication, she has an invitation to all Morning Star readers.
"Add me as a friend if you want or follow me on Twitter."
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