I haven't managed to cover everything I've been up to on the campaign trail properly in the video blogs, so I thought it would be worth writing a few of them up quickly.
First of all, the Gwerin y Coed hustings in Machynlleth on Wednesday night. It had been organised by a group of young people between 13 and 18 years old, and I was seriously impressed by them. It was well organised - a red light flashed if we went over time and there were yellow cards ready to be waved in the air if the audience thought we were unlcear in our answers (maybe an idea for the next parliament?!) - and the questions were tough and thought provoking. The two chairs were brilliant and had no problem telling any of the politicians to stop speaking! Whilst listening to the audience giving their views on a range of issues, I couldn't help but think how unfair it is that you can't vote until you're 18. Surely, the time has now come to change the voting age to 16.
On Thursday night, we had the Churches of Newtown hustings. Another well organised event, with approximately a 120 people in attendance. It's the hustings I've been most nervous about because it was my first time meeting and hearing the National Front candidate here. I feel extremely saddened by the fact that such a party with such views contiunes to exist. No one should preach hatred of others, and I'm afraid the NF do just that. Never the less, I can understand the churches decision to invite him and at least people were able to judge for themselves what they thought of what he had to say.
The questions were tough. Euthanasia, the right of Christians who run bed and breakfasts to refuse to let homosexuals stay, stay at home/working mothers, debt and how we'd tackle it, our plan for the next 6 months if we became MP's next week and so on. It would be easy to be a crowd pleaser and just say what they wanted to hear, but I decided just to be honest instead. Personally, I do feel that Christians are unfairly persecuted these days and I would do everything in my ability to allow Christians the freedom to express their beliefs. But it would have been hypercritical of me to say that I would always uphold Christian principles in the way I would vote in parliament. For example, I am not completely against euthanasia. And neither do I think gay people should be turned away from a Bed and Breakfast. As I said in my closing speech, I hope those there can see that though I may not share the same beliefs on some issues, I would stand up for all my constituents and be there for them and the christian community at all times. During his answers and speeches, the current MP, Lembit Opik quoted the bible time and time again and we heard about his spiritual journey. I was tempted to throw in a biblical quote in my speech to show that he wasn't the only one who could do so, before realising that I only know them in Welsh! Since most of the audience were non Welsh speakers I decided against it - plus I think people would have thought I was playing to the crowd, rather than answering from the heart. Bruce Lawson encouraged people to vote for the best man for the job, before I jumped in saying or woman!
Yesterday was the FUW hustings on a farm outside Llanfair Caereinion. A great turnout, and very apt setting for the discussion. We had a wide range of questions, from Glastir, to reform of CAP, sheep tagging and the future of agriculture. Plenty of food for thought. I was disappointed by a lot of what Lembit had to say. I still don't think he 'gets' farming even after being the MP for Montgomeryshire for 13 years. Interesting to note that there were no biblical quotes today either but he did mention his keep the pint campaign! Glyn knew what he was talking about of course, so I felt he and I could discuss things far more thoroughly with the farmers and with one another. One person even heckled suggesting Glyn might vote for me if I spoke for any longer about my hope for the future of farming! Glyn was kind of enough to say a few nice words about me, before adding that he hoped my career in politics wont' start quite yet!
Today, we are hitting Newtown and tonight, I have a pint and politics night in Machynlleth, kicking off at 7pm in the White Lion. All are welcome so hopefully will see some of you later!