Shadow Secretary of State, Cheryl Gillan was in Montgomeryshire today. We were meeting representatives of several local town and community councils to discuss wind farms - specifically the implications for transport in the area. This is an issue in which I've taken an interest over many years. Its easy to assume that others share the interest, and knowledge about where responsibility for decisions lie. Truth is that very few people do understand where decisions are taken. Its why I've said consistently that liaising between Westminster and Cardiff Bay would be my main role as an MP. were I to be elected. There's so much liaising to do.
Another issue where devolution has been badly misunderstood, is the current public furore about secondary schools reorganisation in Powys. Now we run the Conservative Office as a 'team' of councillors and prospective candidates at all levels - so when the infamous 'leaked report' was discussed, it was a consensus decision that I would go public with it (after giving the Council three days notice)- in part because I knew the issue so well. The 'team' then decided to arrange local discussion meetings for me, while I was away on a three day break - and I was utterly astonished that so many people came along. After a huge public meeting (of 400 people) in Llanidloes, I began telling everyone concerned that they should be concentrating their attention and efforts on Councillors and Assembly Members - because MPs and wannabe MPs have no influence whatsoever, except through other tiers of Government. I. myself went to Cardiff last week to discuss the issue with Conservative AM, Nick Bourne, and asked him to table a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly to raise awareness of the issue - where it mattered. And it was Conservative Councillors, uninfluenced by me who have taken the issue forwards within the Council since. All of which brings me to something both odd and ridiculous.
Montgomeryshire's MP tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue at Westminster. No problem - even if the issue has nothing whatsoever to do with Westminster. But the content was interesting. It was exactly the same as the motion put forward by the Conservatives at the recent Emergency Meeting of Powys Council - which every single Lib Dem Councillor opposed!! Not only opposed, but were openly hostile to - and as far as I know remain openly hostile to. So the MP is trying to persuade other MPs, who have absolutely no say on the matter, while doing nothing to persuade Lib Dem councillors in his own constituency, who do, to back him. You can choose your own word to describe this weird behaviour.
And by the way, the Lib Dems in Montgomeryshire have chosen Mr Wyn Williams as their next Assembly election candidate. I know Wyn rather well, and unfortunately cannot think of a single negative thing to say against him. Like me, he's a man of Welsh hill farming stock, and with roots planted into the same wonderful part of Montgomeryshire. He's employed or was (or owns? or did) a meat company called Dunbia in Llanybydder, and for the last few years bought most of the fat lambs that my farm produced. How about that for coincidence. Daresay I'll find something critical to say about Wyn by the time the Assembly election comes around in 2011!!