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Lib Dems reject Plaid Cymru election pact offer

31 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Jane Dodds. Photo Welsh Liberal Democrats. Picture by Huw John

Martin Shipton

The Liberal Democrats have rejected a suggestion from Plaid Cymru that the two parties should have an electoral pact in the two Westminster seats covering Powys, we can reveal.

Elwyn Vaughan, a Plaid county councillor, has confirmed that he mooted an arrangement under which his party wouldn’t field a candidate at the general election expected next year in the new constituency of Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe in return for the Lib Dems standing down in the new seat of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr.

We have been told that the suggestion was vetoed by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds without putting it formally to her party.

Cllr Vaughan, who has been selected as Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, said he was disappointed with the rejection of his proposal.

“In the expanded Brecon and Radnor seat, a large part of the Swansea valley comes in,” he told us. ”It’s a Labour and Plaid area with a number of Plaid councillors.

“In the expanded Montgomeryshire seat, a number of villages south of Wrexham are coming in. Again it’s a traditional Labour area with some Plaid support. Both the new parts of the seats are very weak for the Lib Dems.

“To further confuse matters, Plaid in Montgomeryshire stood down for the Lib Dems at the last general election as part of a wider pact about Brexit. Should something similar happen again as a way of getting rid of both incumbent Tory MPs?

“That is why, after being approached by a number of individuals and leading figures in Montgomeryshire, I suggested recently to Jane Dodds and others that the Libs should stand down in Montgomeryshire and Plaid stand down in Brecon and Radnor.

“I think and many others think too that this would be a practical way of getting a Tory free Wales. However I can tell you that the Libs have refused to stand down in Monty for my benefit – although they expected me to do it for them last time.”

Soundings

A senior Welsh Liberal Democrat source told us: “There was never anything formal, but soundings were taken in conversations at the Royal Welsh Show in July.

“The idea of the Lib Dems standing down in Montgomeryshire would be hard to take. For 100 years, except for one brief period, it was a safe Liberal seat.

“It’s true that things hit a low point in 2021, when our candidate came third at the Senedd election behind the Conservatives and Plaid, but we did better in the council election last year, taking seats from the Tories.

“We have a very good candidate, David Chadwick, who will be standing in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe at the general election, and we have high hopes of regaining the seat from the Conservatives.”

Support for the Liberal Democrats in Brecon and Radnor dropped following negative publicity relating to the late Assembly Member Mick Bates and the seat’s former MP Lembit Opik.

In 2010 Mr Bates was ordered to pay more than £5,000 after being convicted of assaulting two paramedics and a staff nurse following a drunken night out in Cardiff.

Many locals were unimpressed by a succession of tabloid stories about Mr Opik, who at one time was in a relationship with a member of the Romanian singing duo the Cheeky Girls.

The Lib Dem source said: “The Tories seem entrenched in Montgomeryshire now, but there is no appetite for us to stand down in favour of Plaid.”

Publicity

Meanwhile news outlets have noticed the lack of proactive publicity from the Welsh Liberal Democrats centrally since the departure for another job in May of their previous communications officer Harry Robson, who was considered efficient in getting stories out.

This seems extraordinary given that the Lib Dems have been touted as junior members of a post-election coalition government should Labour fail to win an overall majority.

The party’s website still names Mr Robson as its communications officer, indicating that a successor is still not in post. Attempts to clarify the position with party officials were unsuccessful.

In Ceredigion, former MP Mark Williams, who lost his seat to Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake in 2017, continues to get publicity for attending events in the constituency like agricultural shows, but his chances of winning at the next election are not rated highly, given that he came third in 2019 behind Plaid and the Conservatives.

Cllr Vaughan said: “I think the Lib Dems should forget about Montgomeryshire and Ceredigion and concentrate on picking up support in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.”


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Rob Pountney
Rob Pountney
5 months ago

My understanding was that it was both of the ‘Cheeky Girls’…

Geraint
Geraint
5 months ago

Mick Bates and Lembit Opik represented Montgomeryshire not Brecon & Radnor.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 months ago

Jane Dodds. The ONLY Lib Dem EVER (unless anyone can tell me otherwise) to publicly denounce the actions of Nick Clegg in signing her party up to facilitating majority Tory government in 2010 during the TV debates ahead of the 2021 Senedd elections. It took 11 years for anybody in her wishy washy convictionless party to do so but way too late. Her party does not have a Welsh wing and is entirely pro UK. A party so desperate for friends should not thumb its’ nose at any offer from any party which is stronger than theirs. It is a… Read more »

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

The Lib/ Lib Dems have played an important role in our nations journey and indeed have some remaining role as a centre for ideas and thought.

This however is not the 19ty centuary and as with most things the agenda and needs of Wales have moved on.

Their place currently will be for x Torys of a more moderate and pro European interest to move to.

Llewz
Llewz
5 months ago

Plaid shouldn’t be standing down for any yoons.

Glwyo
Glwyo
5 months ago

Wow the Tory-lite party don’t want to stop a Tory from getting a seat, shocking news.

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