Monday, January 17, 2011

My Welsh Assembly Campaign - Part Three - The Hustings

It’s always a pleasure to meet Liberal Democrats from other parts of the country and meeting those in Ceredigion was no exception. Before and after the hustings, I met some new faces and answered questions – I was surprised to meet a former history lecturer from my university days. I also tried to calculate how much support I might get – to this end I was a little disappointed not to see more students present.

After the returning officer had arrived, it was down to business. I was first up and all eyes were on me.

Like I said in my last entry, I decided to give the ‘no-notes’ method a try and I don’t think I did too badly for a first go. (Practising to the seagulls of Aberaeron an hour previously had helped – although the seagulls didn’t seem too impressed). I managed to remember most of my speech but still tended to speak too fast – something I am working on.

As I addressed the meeting, I could see that my ideas were getting a mixed response. Some were met with a few nods, others a stony silence, while one person found the ceiling more interesting – which I thought was not a promising sign.

Speeches over, on to the questions. Unfortunately there were not many of these – so much of my preparation was not required. And at the end, the returning officer gathered all the votes and I was well beaten.

The successful candidate is a local councillor, Elizabeth Evans. On meeting her, I was instantly impressed, she was very well known and experienced locally, had great energy and enthusiasm, and has excellent people skills.

Ceredigion would have no better champion in the Welsh Assembly than Liz Evans and I hope she will be taking her seat next May. It is a consolation to know that, although I was not successful, I was beaten by a candidate of such high calibre. A by-election shortly after confirmed a large swing to the Lib Dems from Plaid Cymru, so, although the polls may say otherwise, I think with an effective campaign to add to a good candidate, there may well be a surprise in the Welsh Assembly election of Ceredigion.

That evening, I consoled myself in some old Aber pub favourites while watching Wales play the All Blacks and strolled around the old town on a bitterly cold evening recalling many happy years living in the town. The next morning, an early start to get to the station, and I left Aberystwyth once more. But anyone who has lived, worked or studied there can vouch for the fact that ‘Aber’ never leaves you.

Even though I was not successful, the whole experience of returning to Wales and applying for the nomination was enjoyable - and hopefully it will provide useful experience for when I try to find a seat to run for the next general election.

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