So, they’re off and running in the general election and, over the next six weeks, you will be bombarded by politicians of every ilk in a desperate bid to earn your vote.

But your ballot should not be given away cheaply, without thought and only after a full consideration of what truly matters to you -- and what will make a difference to west Wales.

Westminster is a long way off -- have you ever tried to plan a return trip to London on our abysmal trains? -- and, generally speaking, this election is only an opportunity that arises once in every five years. You need to think carefully on who deserves to be our voice in the House of Commons. Will they be heard? Can they make a genuine difference? Will our community be better off as a result of how your vote is cast?

It is not for this newspaper to recommend who to vote for. Instead, we are the believe that this region has been forgotten and overlooked for too long. But across this region, there are too many living below the poverty line. As one economist notes, rural Wales is probably in more trouble than at any point in living memory. Our councils are not making things better, nor the majority of those who sit on them.

Rural Wales is in serious decline, with banks, schools, post offices and pubs all closing, with young people leaving to seek work, affordable housing, a better life or leisure facilities. And much of this crisis is in the shadows. Take Ceredigion as an example, which has among the highest house prices in Wales, yet 30 per cent of children living in poverty – the second highest rate in the country.

There are high costs, low incomes and poor access to public services. And what public services remain are being stripped back, ignored, run into the ground. Our towns are hollowed out. And what remains is being over-managed by bureaucrats gone mad. Our villages are shells in the winter months, over-priced and over-stretched during holidays.

So, who then will make things better? Genuinely better? And is is responsible for exacerbating this mess?