What a pleasure to have something good to say about one of the by-election leaflets pouring through my letterbox!
It comes from Labour candidate Tom Davies; it’s down-to-Earth, makes no promises it can’t keep, and it addresses issues that are affecting us all – now.
He rejects ‘no deal’ Brexit and backs a final say referendum, in which he will be campaigning in support of remaining in the EU.
He supports Welsh Labour’s commitment to achieve a carbon-neutral public sector by 2030, and a shift away from fossil fuels across Wales – to combat the climate crisis.
He supports the Labour Assembly Government’s policies to provide 100,000 all-age apprenticeships, 20,000 more affordable homes and the best childcare for working parents in the whole of the UK.
And he says a Labour government in Westminster would end austerity, invest in public services, introduce a Real Living Wage (in other words it would be enough to ensure no working person would have to claim benefits), and a cap on energy prices. He doesn’t say he would bring this in immediately, because we don’t have a Labour government now – but adding him to Labour’s ranks would make it more likely in the future.
Compare this with the leaflet from UKIP’s Liz Phillips. If elected, she would be that party’s sole MP in Westminster, yet she claims she would:
- End the TV licence
- Control immigration
- Make Brexit happen
- Save the countryside and
- Scrap the Welsh Assembly
That’s quite a tall order for 1/650th of the MPs in Parliament. How’s she going to get everyone else to go along with that wish-list?
Oh, and she’d oppose windfarms, too. Apparently she doesn’t feel quite as sure she’ll get support on that one.
Most risible of all is the letter from Nigel Farage of the Brexit Party.
If his candidate – Des Parkinson – is elected, he would be the Brexit Party’s sole MP in Westminster – so he’s in the same position as Ms Phillips.
The letter states that if elected, this solitary MP would “refuse to pay the £39 billion ransom” – Mr Farage’s word. My understanding is that this is money the UK committed to pay into the EU before the 2016 referendum – “… scrap the multi-billion pound HS2 vanity project. And… cut the bloated, wasteful Foreign Aid budget”. How, exactly, does he intend to get at least 326 other MPs on board for that? This letter doesn’t say.
“Then we’ll take £200 billion and invest it in transport and digital infrastructure projects around Britain… That’s more than twice as much as they spent rebuilding post-war Europe.” And once inflation is taken into account, how much is it then? And there’s still no information on how Mr Parkinson intends to sway all of Parliament to his massive Brexiteering will.
“It will be areas such as Wales that will reap the benefits.” This is the bribe. Mr Farage wants you to think his party would get money spent here – and directly after the election on Thursday. Impossible.
The rest of the letter is an attack – not on the so-called “bookies’ favourite”, Jane Dodds of the Liberal Democrats, or even on former incumbent Chris Davies of the Conservatives – but on the Labour Party which is currently considered to be behind in public opinion (despite the clear worthiness of Tom Davies’ position and policies).
How bizarre. Does Mr Farage think stealing Labour’s votes will leap-frog his candidate beyond Mr Davies or Ms Dodds?
Well… it’s possible, I suppose.
Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds has built her campaign on stealing votes from other parties. Her local policy platform is non-existent – she might as well have come out and said, “I won’t do a single damned thing for the people of Brecon and Radnorshire.” But she thinks she can win tactical votes from Labour supporters by claiming to be the only candidate who can beat Chris Davies, and from Remain supporters by claiming to represent the only party that supports staying in the European Union.
Mr Davies has been relatively quiet – unless his leafletters have simply been avoiding Vox Political Towers. His attitude is that he belongs to the party that is currently in government, so if you want Brexit, you should vote for him, despite the fact that he has been convicted of falsifying his Parliamentary expenses. He seems to be relying on the rump of 7,000+ voters who’ll put their tick in the Tory box, no matter what.
Mr Parkinson may take some of the right-wing vote from Mr Davies, and is certainly likely to take pro-Brexit voters away from the Tory. He may also take pro-Brexit voters away from Ms Dodds. But Ms Phillips is likely to do the same – and who knows what harm UKIP and the Brexit Party will do each other?
And then there’s Tom Davies. He has made it clear that he supports remaining in the EU, and is in a party that has far more chance of ensuring that happens – if another vote takes place – than the Liberal Democrats will ever have. A remain-supporting vote for Jane Dodds is a useless protest, nothing more. But will his offer lure Remain supporters away from her? Or has she fooled too many Labour supporters into wasting their vote on her? Remember: her canvassers have been telling voters that Labour doesn’t even have a candidate in this by-election – a flat-out lie.
So these are the choices for voters in Brecon and Radnorshire on Thursday (August 1):
Two candidates who’ll be able to do nothing if elected; a convict; a liar; and Labour.
I’ll be voting Labour – because democracy is about choosing the right representative, not about trying to work out who’s most likely to beat whoever you think is the bad guy.
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