The Welsh Government must allow candidates to deliver leaflets during lockdown or the Senedd election in fewer than 100 days won’t be fair, a Liberal Democrat candidate has said.
Cadan ap Tomos, who is standing for his party in Ceredigion, has started a petition calling for a change to the lockdown rules.
“Banning political leafleting would hand an unfair advantage to the biggest parties with more money and influence,” he said.
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that volunteer political leaflet delivery isn’t allowed under lockdown restrictions, a statement branded “an attack on our democracy” by Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds.
“This is a clear, partisan attempt to prevent election campaigning,” she said. “Only last week the Welsh Government and the Electoral Commission said it was safe to hold elections, yet now Mark Drakeford is telling candidates not to deliver leaflets.
“Mark Drakeford should be following the science and not party politics. If it is safe for individuals to be paid to deliver leaflets, then it’s safe for volunteers to do the same. Stopping volunteer delivery means that only large parties and rich candidates will be able to campaign on any great scale.
“Previously any changes to the way elections have been run have been discussed by political parties and other stakeholders – this hasn’t happened in this case.
“I honestly thought Labour were better than this.”
Mark Drakeford has stated in response to a Senedd Written Question that he doesn’t believe that political parties should be using volunteers to deliver leaflets and has suggested that parties should use paid delivery options instead.
Whilst supporting the many measures the Welsh Government have implemented to tackle and irradicate Covid-19, Welsh Liberal Democrats said that election leaflets were a vital of allowing the electorate to make an informed decision and party volunteers should be able to deliver these.
“These elections need to be fair as well as safe,” Cadan ap Toomos said. “If candidates can’t deliver leaflets and communicate with voters, then they simply won’t be fair.
“For Mark Drakeford to say that leaflets can be delivered by post but not by volunteers is utterly inconsistent.
“The time when only the rich could stand for election should be well and truly behind us. Does he honestly think that a democracy where other parties can’t hold Labour to account is the type of Wales he wants to live in? Does he think that an election under these conditions on 6 May will be free and fair?
“This is a blatant attempt to shut out smaller parties and many well-meaning independent candidates out of the democratic process.”