Thursday, 31 March 2016

Democracy night review

Last night's event was an outstanding success. Credit must go to Matthew Tucker for the organisation and Kay Lewis-Thomas for her firm chairmanship, but also to the young farmers themselves for the splendid turn-out and sharp questions.

As usual with an enthusiastic audience and many candidates, the hustings ran out of time. The only criticism I have of the planning is that not enough time was allowed for candidates' summaries at the end of the evening. There were two opponents' assertions in particular I wanted to challenge but did not have time to do so.

Labour's Jeremy Miles claimed credit on behalf of Carwyn Jones's government for granting £88,600 to the YFC in Wales in the 2015/16 budget. However, as this report makes clear, this is less than allocated in previous years and indeed Labour originally intended to cut the grant altogether. It was only vigorous political action spearheaded by Kirsty Williams which won back funding for the YFC.

I agree with Peter Croker-Jakes (Conservative) that empty pubs are a blot on the Neath landscape. However, he did not acknowledge that these result from the failed business model of public house ownership initiated by the Thatcher/Major governments. Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland has fought over the last decade what often seemed like a one-man campaign against Conservatives and the establishment generally to achieve some reform of the system, and his fight goes on.

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