This Senedd election provides a real chance for change as the Welsh Conservatives are in with a shout of making significant gains across the nation, writes Calum Davies.
There are also several new parties popping up with candidates trying to make a name for themselves. Yet two other parties that have contested in past Assembly elections threatens to exacerbate the difficulty of regime change in Cardiff Bay.
The first are the Liberal Democrats. After going extinct in the 2017 general election, they are trying to hang onto their last remaining seat in Wales – where its long-standing incumbent is calling it a day – and are still trying to pick up more, bless them. One of those is the seat I’m contesting in Cardiff Central.
But what is the point of the Lib Dems? Seriously? Over 90% of Brecon & Radnor voters cast their ballot against Labour in 2016 and yet the Lib Dems propped them up. This means they have kept Labour in office for nine of the 22 years of devolved government – 13 if you count their torpedoing of the proposed Rainbow Coalition of 2007. They bequeathed us the disastrous Drakeford administration.
So, voting for the Lib Dems means only one thing – more Labour. They claim Kirsty Williams’ presence in Welsh Government has paid dividends. Yet she failed to make the progress in the education brief as we remain bottom of the PISA rankings when it comes to the other home nations and has presided over declining numbers going into teacher training. She has also failed to stand up to her Labour masters in areas of significance to her rural area like Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and is complicit in measures such as giving prisoners the vote.
The Lib Dems are truly spent force: they like to say they are less than a 1000 votes off winning Cardiff Central. However, the last two general elections saw the Conservatives increase their share of the vote here, bumping them into third place.
People are turning away from the Lib Dems, not only for tactical reasons, but because they don’t stand for anything: whereas the Conservatives wear our values proudly, the Lib Dems are indistinguishable from Labour. Both are democracy-deniers in their actions to prevent Brexit and are disgracefully giving up on the Union, flirting with federalism in an effort to end Parliamentary sovereignty and pull Britain apart into an unrecognisable mini-EU of the North Atlantic.
To be fair to them, they are hard campaigners locally – so dedicated that they had been caught out campaigning contrary to coronavirus restrictions and ignored their own leader’s suspension of campaigning to mourn HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. There have been several examples of sneaky leaflets showing they rely heavily on duping voters into voting for them, so weak are the actual reasons to vote for them. Admittedly there’d be some “never-Tories” out there who would never vote for us, but I’d urge them to vote for party that honestly campaigns for their vote even if that can’t be us. They deserve better.
Meanwhile we have the Abolish the Assembly Party. To be fair, they are appealing to an increasing and substantial group in Wales – devosceptics. However, they are rife with internal problems, failing to field a full list of candidates. The Senedd is just way for them to get paid to be angry and incoherent rather than actually achieve their understandable raison d’etre and constructively make the best use of the Welsh Parliament for their constituents for long as it exists.
If they were really committed to preventing further devolution, they wouldn’t be standing against our excellent candidates in areas like Brecon & Radnor and the Vale of Glamorgan where we have a real chance of winning. Instead, they threaten to let the federalist Labour and Lib Dems through. As if that will really help their cause.
Contrary to their misleading Facebook ads, the Conservatives are adamant there should be no further devolution. Those, like myself, who don’t think devolution has improved their lives or Wales as a whole are better off voting for us because we are actually focussed on the day job and making Wales a business-friendly nation with first-class public services. The Abolish Party are so naval-gazing they cannot see beyond their own narrow interests.
Combine both the Lib Dems’ and Abolish’s realistically potential MSs, and you can count them on one hand. The election of members from either do only one thing – keep Labour in office (likely with the help of the nationalists – and who knows what price they will extract?) by preventing gains at the hands of hard-working, committed Conservatives.
Lib Dem MSs will only continue to prop up the tired status quo. Votes for the Abolish Party will only let in more of the left-wing cartel. The best route to challenging the system that has let down Wales for over two decades is to increase the size of the Conservative Group.
Those who are considering voting for either of these parties obviously want a change from this tired, arrogant Welsh Labour Government and the nonsense of the nationalists. Well, only the Conservatives can offer what you want and need – so vote for that.
Calum Davies is the Conservative Senedd candidate for Cardiff Central and is on the Party’s list for South Wales Central.