David James has written an article for today's Wales on Sunday titled "Politicians say the silliest things". Now, he may be right in principle, but in the real world of politics, he's talking ********. His proposition seems to be that anyone standing for election to one tier of Government, should not express opinions, or campaign on matters that are the responsibility of other tiers. My guess is that since the National Assembly for Wales was established in 1999, no Welsh candidate, at any level, has stuck to this principle. That's because those of us who face actual voters know that 'all politics is local'.
The two politicians David singled out are Maria Caulfield, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Caerphilly, and Nick Smith, who is standing for Labour in Blaenau Gwent. I met Maria at our recent conference in Llandudno, where she spoke in a health debate - and I was much impressed. Very confident and articulate, without a note in sight. I don't know Nick. But what I do know is that the voters of Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent would be seriously unimpressed if either of them did not speak about health and transport issues - and local government, and environment, and education, and..... Very few people have a clear knowledge of where the various responsibilities lie - and they don't care. Perhaps the answer that would lose Maria, Nick or me most votes would be "Sorry, can't answer that - because its devolved".
Most of the issues on which the Montgomeryshire election will be decided are devolved issues. Secondary school reorganisation, Newtown By-pass, access to health and other public services. The Lib Dems realised years ago that pavement politics wins elections - at all levels. And we are sick of losing in Montgomeryshire. When I became the Parliamentary candidate almost three years ago, we established a 'team' approach, involving Conservative candidates across all tiers of Government. Our six Montgomeryshire councillors, Nick Bourne AM and myself discuss issues, and try to find an approach that we can all agree on. Our aim is that we can all respond positively to constituents on all issues. And we'll carry on doing that - which is my advice to Maria Caulfield and Nick Smith.