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Politics

Get to know your candidates for the coming election

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WITH a July 4 date set for the general election, the currently declared candidates for the two new electoral seats of Ceredigion Preseli and Mid and South Pembrokeshire have made their first pitches for your votes.

As part of constituency changes, Pembrokeshire’s seats of Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, are now no more.

As part of the changes, parts of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids – are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency, which replace the Pembrokeshire elements of the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat.

Parts of the north of the county are now in the new Ceredigion Preseli constituency, areas including Crymych and Maenclochog joining with Ceredigion.

Current hopefuls for the Mid and South Pembrokeshire seat are Welsh Liberal Democrat Alistair Cameron, with Stephen Crabb for the Conservatives and Henry Tufnell for Labour.

Conservative hopeful Stephen Crabb said: “As a local man who lives and was raised in the heart of Pembrokeshire, I’m committed to providing a strong voice for our county. I understand the needs of our community and have a trusted track record of speaking up for Pembrokeshire. I bring experience, a record of delivering on our county’s priorities, and I always put the interests of Pembrokeshire first.”

“I’ve worked hard to secure the Celtic Freeport which will bring new investment and jobs to the area, improved Broadband, delivered new Levelling Up money to improve our town centres, and boosted the number of police officers to keep our communities safer. Defending Withybush Hospital and local health services against Welsh Labour cuts will always remain a top priority.”

“I am the only candidate at this election who has fought against Vaughan Gething’s Withyhedge landfill scandal which has ruined the quality of life of thousands of Pembrokeshire people. This election is an opportunity for local people to send a message to Welsh Labour that Pembrokeshire must not be turned into a dumping ground.”

Welsh Labour’s candidate Henry Tufnell said: “Today presents an opportunity for the people of Mid and South Pembrokeshire to have their say. They can choose between more of the same of the last fourteen years: scandal, sleaze, economic mismanagement and falling living standards, or a changed Labour Party that will deliver for them.

“I want a fresh start for Mid and South Pembrokeshire, to be a strong voice to stand up for residents and to work hard for them. With a UK Labour Government working hand in hand with our Welsh Government, the people of Pembrokeshire will be better off.”

Alistair Cameron, Welsh Lib Dem candidate said: “I will push for quality local jobs that offer fair wages to help residents and families get by. I will urge the UK government to boost support for offshore wind and green hydrogen industries off our coastline, creating skilled sustainable employment for our region.

“I will also support established industries in our county including tourism and farming. As part of this, I want to make it easier to trade with our nearest neighbours in the European Union.

“Many are frustrated with long waits to access healthcare under the Labour-led system, whether seeing a GP, finding an NHS dentist, or getting hospital treatment for serious illnesses. I will fight to make it much easier to access these vital services. “

Plaid Cymru is yet to select a candidate for the constituency, and other parties are expected to announce their choices in the coming weeks.

Candidates confirmed to date for Ceredigion Preseli are Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, and Conservative Aled Thomas.

Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, said: “Fourteen years of Conservative government in Westminster has left families in Ceredigion Preseli worse off. Plaid Cymru won’t be able to provide solutions to the problems the UK faces.

“I’m campaigning for a fresh start for Ceredigion Preseli with a Labour Government. A thriving local economy, a modernised NHS, and opportunities for all, no matter your background. There is an alternative to Conservative chaos and Plaid powerlessness. A UK Labour Government, working with our Welsh Labour Government, will deliver for communities across Wales.”

Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake said: “It is an honour to stand as the representative for the new seat of Ceredigion Preseli. It has been a privilege to serve the people of Ceredigion for the past seven years, during which I have done my utmost to fight their cause, striving every day to improve the lives of the people I am honoured to serve.

“I hope to be re-elected as your Member of Parliament on July 4, and will work tirelessly to champion the issues that matter most to you. Whether that’s investing in our public services, safeguarding our NHS, or boosting our local economy for the benefit of our communities.

“I will be your champion at Westminster, and I am confident that together we can build a stronger, more sustainable, and prosperous Ceredigion Preseli to enable future generations to thrive.”

Conservative hopeful Aled Thomas said: “It’s an honour of a lifetime to represent residents in North Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion as the Welsh Conservative Candidate for Ceredigion Preseli. Now the starting gun has officially been fired, I’m ready to continue spreading positive messages across the constituency about what has been achieved under a Conservative UK government, with getting the economy growing, the furlough scheme, gigabit internet rollout, national insurance tax cuts, legalising same sex marriage and establishing the Celtic Freeport just to name a few.

“Rural communities across our constituency need stability, and the uncertainty the Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Labour Government have inflicted on Welsh Farmers is unforgivable. As a young farmer, I feel the same pain that our rural communities feel. I will always fight for farmers and wider rural communities, and I know that the Welsh Conservatives share that same value.

“Conservatives also have a strong record in education, and now more than ever, I will be the only voice that speaks up for a generation of children in Ceredigion Preseli – where Labour’s current curriculum for Wales and the Plaid Cymru-run County Council are letting a generation of school children down.”

Liberal Democrat hopeful Mark Williams said: “It is an honour to stand as the candidate for the Liberal Democrats and represent the new constituency – Ceredigion Preseli, in Westminster.

“Having had the privilege of representing the people of Ceredigion for over 12 years as your member of parliament, I had a proven track record of consistently fighting for our community, striving every day to improve the lives of the people I served. I will do so again if I am elected to serve as your next MP.

“On July 4, I seek your support to be elected as the member of parliament. As the choice for change and a better future, I am dedicated to addressing the issues that matter most to you. My focus will be on securing vital investments in our public services, protecting our health service, and boosting our local economy to benefit all our communities.

“I am committed to being a strong and effective voice for you in Westminster. Together, we can build a stronger, more sustainable, and vibrant Ceredigion Preseli that will enable future generations to thrive.”

The two new seats have two Pembrokeshire County Council councillors standing, Alistair Cameron and Aled Thomas.

Politics

Rhys ab Owen MS calls for justice in ‘pension theft’ scandal

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A SENEDD member called on the next UK Government to finally put an end to the “theft” of steelworkers’ pensions following a two-decade campaign for justice.

Rhys ab Owen said staff at Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) in Cardiff lost their pensions when the company collapsed in 2002, making thousands of people unemployed.

Leading a Senedd debate, he said: “This meant that it was no longer about fairness, or what pensioners were owed, but whatever the scheme could afford to pay out.

“’Wind up’ is one term for it – an aptly named term, perhaps – another term is ‘pension theft’, and I believe that is a far more effective term.”

“The ASW workers were not the first nor the last to experience this injustice, this gutting of their pensions. Wind-ups were increasingly common in the early 2000s and punished those who were most loyal and hard-working.”

Mr ab Owen, who sits as an independent, said the then-Labour UK Government’s financial assistance scheme had an arbitrary maximum payout of 90% of the pension value.

“This meant pensioners lost 10% of their pensions from the get-go,” he explained. “Then more due to inflation, and on top of it all, many had to pay tax on the measly sum.

“For workers who had worked for decades – slaving away day after day in dangerous work –  it is no wonder this faulty scheme led to protests across the UK.”

The South Wales Central MS warned that many pensioners have still not been offered compensation despite a parliamentary ombudsman report and a Court of Appeal case.

“Do we really need another ITV drama to resolve this scandal?” he asked, appearing to refer  to Mr Bates vs The Post Office which brought the Horizon scandal to life.

His father – Owen John Thomas, a former Plaid Cymru politician, who represented the same region in the then-Assembly – was involved in the steelworkers’ campaign from the outset.

Mr ab Owen paid tribute to his father in a statement to the Senedd in the days following his death in May, saying it was characteristic of him to put other people and the country first.

During the debate on June 21, he said: “This struggle for Cardiff workers has lasted so long that it’s been through two generations of the Thomas family, my father being a constant voice in this battle from which I am glad to take on the mantle.”

The former barrister and law lecturer warned countless workers have died waiting for their pensions to be restored, with some unable to pay for their own funerals.

“Some have, tragically, taken their own lives waiting to find justice,” he said. “This is a scandal still unresolved, a scandal that has been going on for 22 years; widows still paying mortgages that should have been paid off decades ago.”

Expecting a Labour landslide in the general election on July 4, Mr ab Owen asked: “Will the party founded and funded over the years by the workers, will they finally give the ASW steelworkers and their families the money that they are owed?”

Adam Price said it was fitting for the debate to take place next door to T? Hywel where the steelworkers’ journey for justice began in a meeting organised by Mr ab Owen’s father.

He told the chamber or Siambr: “Time after time, the story of capitalism in these islands –  and the story of the failure of our democracy – is the story of pension scandals….

“It says something about these countries in the UK – the way we treat our workers, our older workers in retirement. It’s that moral question this incoming Labour Government now faces.”

The former MP and Plaid Cymru leader welcomed a pledge in Labour’s manifesto on miners’ pensions, calling for an equal commitment to former steelworkers.

Sarah Murphy, responding for the Welsh Government, acknowledged the injustice the Allied Steel and Wire pensioners have faced.

The minister pointed out that pension powers are not devolved as she called on the UK Government to “do the right thing and give restorative justice” to former ASW workers.

She told the Senedd: “We are disappointed the UK Government has failed to secure the pensions justice for the former ASW workers that they deserve.

“I recognise the sense of betrayal that they must feel….

“These pensions are not a gift; they are deferred salary. The contributions were made in good faith by ASW workers in the expectation that they would receive security in retirement – not just for them, but also for their families.

“Those contributions should be honoured and honoured in full.”

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Welsh Conservatives ask voters to send a message to Labour: ‘Enough is enough’

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THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES are rallying voters to use their voice on Thursday, July 4th, to signal that 25 years of Labour governance in Wales is enough. However, the question remains whether their message will resonate with the electorate amidst predictions of a near-wipeout for the Tories in Wales.

Since 1999, Labour has overseen critical areas such as the Welsh NHS, education, transport, housing, rural affairs, and job creation. According to the Conservatives, this quarter-century of Labour rule has left Wales with the longest NHS waiting lists in the UK, the poorest educational outcomes, and the lowest employment levels in the country.

Unveiling the Welsh Conservative manifesto in Kinmel Bay this morning, David TC Davies highlighted their achievements, stating, “We have a strong record of action in Wales, from cutting taxes and putting £700 back into the pockets of hardworking Welsh workers, to delivering two freeports which will create thousands of jobs and investing over £2.5 billion to support transport, tourism, heritage, and culture across Wales.

“This is just the start. Our bold plan for Wales will go further so that people in Wales keep more of their hard-earned money to spend on what they want, not what the government wants. We will continue to bring investment and jobs to Wales, so that people can provide for their families and enjoy the security of home ownership. We will make sure our children have the best start in life, with access to opportunities they never thought possible.

“Labour’s lack of ambition for Wales is clear for all to see – Labour in Westminster and Wales ruling out the electrification of the North Wales main line. Only the Conservatives will deliver for North Wales.

“It is only by voting Welsh Conservative can our clear plan, with bold action be put in place and deliver a secure future for Wales.”

Andrew RT Davies MS echoed these sentiments, calling for a change in leadership: “Keir Starmer said that Labour in Wales was his blueprint for what he would do to the rest of the UK. Here in Wales, we know that is a stark warning as we suffer with 20,000 people waiting two years or more for treatment, a 50/50 chance of an ambulance arriving in our hour of need and 20mph speed limits hitting the Welsh economy by up to £9 billion. That is what 25 years of Labour in power looks like.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this. We have a plan to save our Welsh NHS, a plan to kickstart our economy and a plan to get Wales moving. On the 4th of July, it is essential that people use their voice to tell Labour that enough is enough and that Wales deserves better.”

At the heart of the Welsh Conservative election manifesto, set to be published on Friday, is the pledge to reverse Wales’ controversial 20mph speed limit policy by giving people a legal right to challenge existing zones. The policy, introduced by former First Minister Mark Drakeford’s government, has faced significant backlash despite figures showing a reduction in road injuries.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, and Tory Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies will present the manifesto in Kinmel Bay, Conwy. Mr Sunak will describe Wales as a “great country, but a country let down by Labour,” which has led the Welsh government since devolution 25 years ago.

Additional neighbourhood police officers and a £1bn investment plan to electrify the North Wales main rail line will also feature prominently in the document. The electrification project, initially announced by Mr Sunak in October 2023 after cancelling the second leg of the HS2 high-speed rail line, aims to revitalise transport infrastructure in North Wales. However, transport experts estimate the actual cost could exceed £1.5bn.

During the manifesto launch, Mr Sunak is expected to criticise Welsh Labour’s priorities, accusing them of focusing solely on maintaining power. He will highlight initiatives like lowering the voting age to 16 in Senedd and local elections and increasing the number of Senedd members as examples of Labour’s self-serving strategies.

Despite calling the election last month, Mr Sunak has not seen a significant reduction in Labour’s lead in opinion polls. David TC Davies, expressing scepticism about Labour’s predicted victory, suggested that any Labour majority would lack enthusiastic support from the electorate.

As the July 4th election approaches, the Welsh Conservatives are emphasising the need for a dramatic shift in governance, advocating for policies they believe will rejuvenate Wales and rectify the issues they attribute to 25 years of Labour control.

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Politics

Tories predicted only to win Montgomeryshire-Glyndŵr seat in Wales

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The Conservatives could be reduced to just one seat in Wales according to latest polling data, with a narrowing of the lead for Plaid Cymru and Labour respectively in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion’s two new seats.

Recent polls have predicted a safe win for Plaid in Ceredigion Preseli, and a narrower win for Labour in Mid and South Pembrokeshire.

As part of constituency changes, Pembrokeshire’s previous seats of Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, are now no more.

As part of the changes, bits of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids and– are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency.

Mid and South Pembrokeshire covers Letterston, Solva and St Davids down to Hundleton and Tenby, stretching eastwards to Amroth, Narberth and Lampeter Velfrey

Other parts of the north of the county are now in the new Ceredigion Preseli constituency; which extends up past Aberystwyth and also includes Cilgerran, Crymych, St Dogmaels, Fishguard and Llanrhian.

Earlier this month, global public opinion and data company YouGov recently had predicted the Ceredigion Preseli seat would see a comfortable Plaid Cymru win, at 42.8 percent, with Labour second on 17.6 percent, followed by Conservatives (11.7), Reform (8.5), Liberal Democrats (8.3), and Greens (4.9).

YouGov’s figures for the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire seat had predicted a Labour win, with 42.6 percent of the vote, followed by Conservatives on 33.4, Reform 9.4, Plaid Cymru 7.4, Liberal Democrats 3.6, and Green 2.8.

The predictions have now been amended to show a narrower margin; a Ceredigion Preseli Plaid win with 36 percent of the votes, followed by Labour, Conservative and Reform tying on 14 percent each, with the Lib-Dems on 13 percent, Green five percent, and others three percent.

For Mid and South Pembrokeshire, the latest figures show a narrower Labour win (33 percent) over the Conservatives (29), followed by Reform (19), Plaid Cymru (8), Lib-Dems (6), Green (4), and others (1).

There’s now a 15-candidate battle for the two seats, eight in Mid and South Pembrokeshire and seven in Ceredigion Preseli.

With a July 4 date set for the general election, the currently declared candidates for Mid and South Pembrokeshire are: Hanna Andersen (Women’s Equality Party); Alistair Cameron (Welsh Liberal Democrats); Stephen Crabb (Welsh Conservative); Stuart Marchant (Reform UK); James Purchase (Green Party); Vusi Siphika, (Independent); Cris Tomos (Plaid Cymru); and Henry Tufnell (Welsh Labour).

Candidates for the new Ceredigion Preseli seat are: Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, Conservative Aled Thomas, Tomos Barlow for the Green Party, Karl Robert Pollard for Reform UK, and Taghrid Al-Mawed for the Workers Party of Britain.

Wales-wide the latest YouGov poll sees the Conservatives holding on to just Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in a narrow 28 percent to 25 percent lead over Labour, neighbouring Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe seeing a Liberal Democrat win over the Conservatives.

Plaid Cymru are currently on course to win four seats: Ceredigion Preseli, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Caerfyrddin, and Ynys Môn, the latter a 31 percent Plaid, 27 percent Labour vote.

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