Occasionally, I'm asked a question which really makes me sit up. It happened last night. I met Llangynog Community Council to discuss issues of significance in their area. The main issue of contention was the absence of a mobile signal - an issue that has the capacity to split communities. But the question in question was more a personal one.
"If we elected you to be our Member of Parliament, would you be your own man, or would you be more interested in just doing what your party wants, and not what we might want."
Tough question. I thought about it before answering, and answered honestly. In fact, I've already discussed this with the Conservative Party's Chief Whip. My answer went something like this. During the 8 years that I served as an Assembly Member, I did not once vote against the party 'whip'. In part this was because there were not many votes in the Assembly which really made a difference - but it was also because I know that ignoring the 'whip' creates instability and even chaos. But what I won't do is lie about what I believe. If I disagree with my party, I would want the right to argue my case within the party, and I would let my constituents know that I disagreed. And most importantly, I would not say one thing to my constituents and another at Westminster. Nothing brings politics so quickly into public contempt.
This is why I feel so disappointed by the behavior of many Labour MPs who voted against the Conservative Motion in the House of Commons today to suspend the post office closure programme. Its not the decision by Labour MPs to vote in favour of the Labour Government's closure programme that shocks me. Its that many of them have been campaigning to save post offices from closure in their own constituencies - and travelling up to Westminster and voting in favour of closure - or at least for not suspending the closure programme. This is hypocrisy of a high order. I heard one Labour MP trying to justify herself on the radio today. She just sounded unbelievable. And we wonder why young people are so disengaged with politics!