There have been some provocative opinion pieces and editorials in the Cambrian News of late.
As a “swivel-eyed” Welsh Conservative, I’m enjoying watching those of other persuasions tearing chunks out of each other. There is always a bit of froth on the surface of politics, but the danger is that we lose sight of reality. Around the world, many people would give their eye teeth to live under our democratic settlement. Do we value it enough? Put another way, do we all share some responsibility for the shortcomings of our governance?
Can anyone imagine Jeremy Corbyn and his wife going round to dinner with Jacob Rees-Mogg and his wife? Probably not. But in the 1970s and ‘80s, Michael Foot (hard Left) and Enoch Powell (hard Right) and their wives would do just that. In the House of Commons, they would tear each other’s eyes out, but be able to socialise together afterwards. Maybe talking things through over a glass or two gave them insight into other people’s lives, and led to better politics.
In Ceredigion our political rivalry is played out with a level of decency and good humour. Out campaigning it is fun to bump into other parties and exchange a bit of banter. It always surprises me how many Lib Dem activists actually vote Welsh Conservative! And in fairness, Eifion Evans (who is our returning officer as well as council CEO) plays a really full role in maintaining this.
Indeed, across Wales it is clear that politicians of all parties do work well together to find solutions to the problems we all face. This is democracy at its best, and we need to take great care not to trash it, and end up with something much worse. Of course it is right to hold both elected representatives and officials to account. But are we all playing our role?
How many of us bother to vote in police and crime commissioner, council or Senedd elections? Of those of us who do vote, how many bother to read manifestos and literature? Are we prepared to think outside of the box (as Foot and Powell did) or do we just fall back on traditional political tribal loyalty?
Have we become a bit too entitled, taking our democracy for granted and whingeing from the side-lines, leaving it for someone else to do the hard work? If you don’t vote, you really shouldn’t be complaining, and if you want to influence things then it is time to get involved with the political party of your choice and put in the hard yards.
Dafydd Llywelyn, our Plaid Cymru PCC, was taken to task by Gareth James. Because the last PCC elections coincided with the 2021 Senedd elections, the turnout was quite “good” at about fifty percent. In fact, the Welsh Conservative candidate got the most votes, but lost out due to transferable voting. Next year, the PCC will be First Past the Post; she or he with the most votes will win.
So how many of us will bother to vote, leave alone find out what the candidates stand for and their plans to improve our policing? Get involved or accept the consequences.
For the record, my interactions with the police have all been very positive. This isn’t always crime related. I have witnessed a couple of local incidents with young police officers essentially providing a mental health crisis service. It’s not even their field, but they take responsibility and prevent tragedy. Their professionalism on both occasions was truly exemplary. And for what it’s worth, on the two occasions I have met the PCC he seems like a decent hard working person who is trying to do his best; my only worry would be that with his office in police HQ, he may be a bit too close to the Chief Constable to really fulfil his role.
The needless practical difficulties faced by our local businesses
I know of a great local cleaning company based in Aberaeron. The staff are often quite young and work hard doing an excellent job. They are always cheerful. I bet they help a lot of elderly people allowing them to continue independent living. They also play a big role supporting tourism, which like it or not is an important part of our local economy.
So it is sad to hear that they keep picking up parking tickets unloading and reloading laundry outside their facility in Aberaeron. This is the kind of financial punishment that no small business can absorb. Jobs may be lost and a really useful service disappear with knock on consequences.
Now obviously, no one can park in a way that inconveniences or endangers others. But surely it can’t be beyond the wit of town and county council to work this type of issue through and find a sensible pragmatic solution.
Local business matters. Come on all you officials and councillors! Find a way to sort problems like this out quickly and efficiently.