2009 has not been a good year for politics. We’ve had scandal after scandal, and despite the Speaker’s resignation yesterday, I doubt things will change for a while. People have lost all faith in politicians, and to be honest, who can blame them? As I’ve said plenty of times before, being elected to represent a constituency is a huge honour and politicians would do well to remember that. Integrity and credibility are of paramount importance within a democracy and if people lose sight of that, well they deserve to be humiliated by the press and they undoubtedly deserve to lose their seats at the next General Election. Where there has been intentional fraud, I would also go as far as to say that some also deserve to be prosecuted.
The constituents I’ve been speaking to in Montgomeryshire are totally disillusioned with Westminster and are keen for the opportunity to cast their vote for a new MP as soon as is possible. People are genuinely asking why I’d ever want to get embroiled in such a world when I’m out canvassing and even expressing some concern that ‘a young girl’ like me should find myself involved in the dirty world that is politics. There’s a real sense that politics has become a dishonourable occupation and I think it shocked a few of them to see a youngish female going around canvassing. They’re so used to seeing middle aged men in suits go round spinning the same lines – it was nice in that sense to be able to surprise them!
Though expenses dominated much of my conversations with potential voters, we did go on to other topics as well, the most notable being TB and the culling of badgers, sheep tagging, street lighting, the closure of Woolworths, wind farms, local hospitals and transport in rural areas. These are all issues of huge importance in Montgomeryshire – many of which have had an impact on my own family living in the area. Elin Jones, the Rural Affairs Minister, is highly regarded by all I spoke to and the farmers in particular appreciate having a minister who understands the issues and problems they are facing and that they can trust to implement effective policies. Many were keen to hear and challenge my views on agricultural issues, and were glad to hear that I spent many a school holiday on farms in Montgomeryshire, helping out especially during lambing season. Indeed, I think they were pleasantly surprised that I could identify the different types of sheep and cattle at the farmers market from my days going round all the agricultural shows long before deciding I’d ever run for parliament. The response was fantastic and really positive – much better than I anticipated even – and I’m feeling encouraged. Personal donations have been pledged for the campaign by people who’ve never voted Plaid before, and there’s a sense of momentum building.
As I said yesterday, the events over the past few weeks means that anything is possible in the world of politics by now. It’s a truly historical time that we’re living in – democracy seems to be making a comeback – and no political party can take anything for granted. The challenge for politicians is to respond in a considered and appropriate manner and implement effective and long term changes rather than simply being reactive. More than ever before, manifestos will be of huge importance in the next General Election and every pledge will be scrutinised, and rightly so. My pledge is a simple one if I’m elected as Montgomeryshire’s next MP: to put Montgomeryshire first and represent the constituency to the very best of my ability, in a totally honest, open and transparent manner. Something tells me I won't be the only one campaigning on such a basis!