Friday, 15 November 2019

Eight candidates in Neath

So what happened? you may well ask, bearing in mind my earlier standing aside for a single Remain candidate, and your being confronted with a whole pack of would-be MPs in the notice posted on the local council web-site. First of all, I admit to jumping the gun in publicising my withdrawal. I was led to believe that an announcement about the Unite To Remain (UTR) constituencies would be made that evening and that Neath would be one of them. As I had a meeting to attend, I felt I had better get my public statement out of the way before it was upstaged by a media release.

Little did we local Liberal Democrats know that there were some last-minute hitches in the UTR negotiations in Westminster and that Neath was one of the sticking-points. There are mutterings from Plaid and the Greens locally each blaming the other for the breakdown which led to Neath being taken off the list. There will have to be a fuller investigation into each party's handling of the talks (I feel that our HQ could have been more flexible in general) but that must wait until after the election. We shall just have to get on with a contest which has reverted to traditional party lines.

The Conservative camp is much worse off. They had a good local candidate in 2017 in the form of solicitor Orla Lowe. In normal times, she would be the obvious choice this time round, but perhaps she does not fit with the hard anti-Europe, pro-Trump line of the present Tory leader. Not only have they had to fall back on a Gloucestershire-based member, their pro-Brexit ground is challenged by one of Nigel Farage's Brexit subscribers.

What might have been achieved if the UTR deal had come off is shown by Plaid Cymru's excellent result in Rhos yesterday where, it may be recalled, we made a unilateral decision to stand aside. Labour's crash from first to third place mirrors by-election results in England.

I have not got away scot-free. My arm has been twisted to act as agent for our excellent candidate Adrian Kingston-Jones, who has already been more active than I ever was. With so many Labour (and Remainer Conservative) votes up for grabs, he is clearly on track to regain the position we had in 2010, if not the top spot.

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