Focus on Lesley Prosser, our candidate for Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr:
Lesley shines at Llandeilo hustings
This was a lively and well attended event. Since campaigning was suspended twice, several hustings in the Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr constituency had to be cancelled, leaving this as the main opportunity to see the candidates live.
The opening statements showed how Brexit is still a prominent theme in this election. Lesley received a warm applause for her pro-EU stance and her understanding of the issue. After all, she had coordinated the In-campaign only last year.
In stark contrast to this the conservative candidate Havard Hughes got booed and even laughed at when he claimed that the EU was out to divide the UK with its politics.
Since 70 % of Llandeilo voted to remain, I would have advised him to do his homework before rushing in with such a bold statement. You need to know your audience and constituency. It showed that the man was not a local resident.
His sub-sequent provocative and aggressive tone towards the other parties and candidates showed perfectly how his party is the one dividing the country, and not the EU.
As often in Wales, one of the first questions was about the local connection the candidates had with Carmarthenshire and their contributions to the area. Lesley had no problem answering that after living here all of her life and having been involved in plenty of local projects.
Again, Havard Hughes did not do well on this one by opening with a clearly rehearsed sentence in Welsh to prove his lineage and then trying to convince the audience that his achievements in Coventry had relevance to Wales and Carmarthenshire especially. In fact, the audience started to become short and shouted critical follow-up questions.
You wouldn't have known that Lesley only recently became a politician. She was at ease with public speaking, familiar with the party's politics and found it easy to answer all kinds of questions. Especially since the Lib Dem manifesto answers all pressing points, from mental health and NHS funding to triple lock and dementia tax.
Plaid and Labour often agreed with Lesley in her opinions and takes on certain issues. For example they also supported a voting system that allowed 16 year olds to vote, as Lesley so passionately demanded. The conservative candidate was the only to disagree with such a change, probably, as the Labour candidate put it, “because the young people do not vote for your party.”
The discussion with Plaid and Labour certainly was fruitful and interesting. “I like some of your policies,” Lesley said to both of them, “but as Lib Dem I'm an Internationalist. I want a Federal Wales and I want to keep our access to the single market, whereas Corbyn wants only the benefits of it.”
Lesley also came up trumps with our fully costed manifesto, while the other parties couldn't quite claim the same, particularly Havard Hughes again. When pushed why the Conservative Manifesto wasn't costed he replied: “Because we're in government and don't have to.”
To me this showed just how arrogant the Tories are, and how far to the right they have drifted. Havard dodged many questions with evasive statements, to which the audience frequently responded by shouting “Answer our question!”
Lesley simply was a star with her clear answers, her congenital spirit and warm nature. She didn't have to blame Blairites for the banking crisis, nor attack any of the other parties. For me she was by far the best candidate and the perfect person to represent our constituency.
On June 8th - vote for Lesley Prosser and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Vote to change Wales's future. Your future!
Understanding one of Wales' finest seats
I love nothing better than a walk through the Brecon Beacons. I've always thought of Brecon and Radnorshire as LibDem heartland and my heart bled when we lost the parliamentary seat in the last election.
It's a good job that we elected Kirsty Williams as assembly member for Brecon and subsequently even as the Education Secretary in the Welsh government. Thanks to her good work voters in the constituency never could quite forget the caring aspects of our party.
Good news is though that things might be about to change back to the good old ways. Speaking to people in Ystraglanais on the door step, people seem to be missing the times of the friendly and caring Libdem governance. People couldn't even name the current Conservative MP, but they all knew about Kirsty and the good things she has done for Education in Wales.
And even better news that the LibDem candidate is James Gibson-Watt. He used be a member of the Development Board for Rural Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, so someone who understands about one of our most treasured nature reserves. Listening to the campaigners in the office in Brecon, people are responding well to him.
The papers say that the LibDem's polling results are patchy in places but Brecon is one of the really good patches, where it only takes a small swing back to bring back the caring and conscientious LibDem hand to the constituency. People trust his warm and open nature and subscribe to his values. I know who I'd rather entrust the NHS and my pension to. So watch this space, but you just might be in for a surprise result here on June 8th.
To say I enjoyed yesterday's election debate would be a lie. The Tory arrogance and incompetence sometimes simply was too much to bear.
Like her party leader Theresa May, Amber Rudd evaded far too many questions and threw half-truths and empty phrases at us instead.
Admittedly, she came across as less robotic than Theresa May usually does in her controlled and staged appearances, but sadly, Amber seemed just as heart- and charmless as her absent PM.
However, there were some very entertaining moments:
I rejoyced in the audience laughter when Amber Rudd said the Conservatives had "made a clear decision to protect the poorest in our society."
"Have you been to a food bank? Have you seen people sleeping around our stations?"
"Have you seen the levels of poverty that exist because of your government's conscious decisions on benefits?" she was asked when the laughter had subsided. A point which our Llanelli candidate Rory Daniels made in a poignant video.
Theresa May's absence was criticised by all.
Tim Farron pointed out: "How dare you call a general election and run away from a debate"
Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the "first rule of leadership is to show up,
"You don't say it's the most important election of our lifetime and not be bothered to show up."
The frequent fact checking posts that appeared on screen showed some blatant lies being told and some excellent points being made about false accusations and truth twisting.
Tim was simply brilliant in bringing across our key manifesto policies about the NHS and social care - which stands in sharp contrast to the uncosted and vague Tory offerings.
There was nothing vague or evasive about his statements.
"I will stand up to the Tories over the dementia tax."
"Unlike the Tories the LibDems will guarantee 'triple lock' on pensions"
"If you want the final say on Brexit Lib Dems will stand up for you"
"1p on in come tax to fund the NHS"
If only the Conservative Manifesto could decide at least on the figure for the alleged dementia tax cap. Getting a concrete answer seemed sometimes harder than getting blood out of a stone.
Ed Fordham, campaign coordinator for Mid and West Wales, and his notes on the eve of the local elections, some weeks ago now. In light of the upcoming General Election a timely reminder of the importance of liberal values in a volatile world.
The calm before the storm... perhaps an over-used phrase, but I'm sitting here in the Liberal Democrat HQ in Aberystwyth and it is very quiet. The light is dropping fast, the shops are closing and even students are drifting homewards - the pub will wait until the weekend.
But tomorrow the people of Wales will go to the polls in the local elections. In many respects, and in the views of lots of people, local government doesn't matter - but tomorrow could not be more important. Who wins and who loses will set up and frame the result of the General Election on Thursday 8th June 2017. Let me put it more clearly - the local elections are being used, even abused, as a means of accentuating the scale of Labour failure and bolstering the result of the Conservative Party. Theresa May, advised by Lynton Crosby, has sidelined the debate on local services and local government in the interests of securing a larger mandate in her vision of elected dictatorship.
Now in my book this would be bad enough, but she is now stoking it up with language attacking our friends and allies in and across Europe. A dislike of Europe and a hatred or fear of foreigners is being developed into a narrative that makes UKIP look like Tory-lite. Well, NOT IN MY NAME.
Tomorrow the people of Wales have the chance to vote and as the newest (and as a temporary) member of the Welsh Liberal Democrats I hope you vote for candidates who stand for tolerance, for inclusive and for equality. There are across Wales 70 Liberal Democrat councillors who are fighting to defend their seats - I hope, I pray and I am frankly desperate that they hold and we gain more. I hope that in this beautiful nation the message of narrow feral politics that Theresa May is whipping up is rejected and the March of Liberalism can start again. We need a strong nerve, we need to set a steady pace and we need to hold our heads high.
"I am a Liberal and I am against this sort of thing" - said Clarence Willcock in the face of ID cards in the 1950s. Now the same is true. Tomorrow I shall vote Liberal Democrat and hold my head high. Proud of Britain and hopeful for the future, nervous and worried, but hopeful."
Good luck Wales, good luck Liberal Democrats. Go get yourselves elected on June 8th!
Will pensioners decide the vote?
After the Conservatives boldly showed their welfare-cuts-hungry hands and put the dementia tax out into the open their rating in the polls dropped dramatically. And rightfully so.
As some people chillingly stated: You need to die quickly now if you want to leave a legacy for your children. Pensioners and their families alike are outraged by this callous cut-throat measure.
In their new manifesto the Tories are no longer bound to leave National Insurance contributions as they are. Instead of using the existing welfare system and making improvements to it, we probably will get the worst of both worlds in the end.
It got me wondering: The referendum was decided by the older generation, and maybe this election now will also be decided by them?
The choices Theresa May is making now will bring grave social injustices, taking us back to the times when illnesses were something you simply couldn't 'afford' to have – quite literally.
The once guaranteed Triple lock on pensions seems no longer safe in her hands and with the Tory's reluctance to put extra funds into the NHS our elderly will be hit even harder.
With so much ingratitude for the people who raised our generation it should be no surprise if May's rating tumbles even further.
Pensioners will feel the effects in their bank balance and in the quality of and their access to health services. It would not surprise me if their vote will decide whether parts of this institution will be sold off or privatised, ignored and run into the grounds – or whether there will be a solid funding from a 1p Income Tax increase to save this valuable service from its current crisis.
In Wales, nurses currently have to care for more patients per member of staff than anywhere else in the UK. Earlier this year, The Welsh Lib Dems made a first step to changing that. The Assembly passed a Welsh Lib Dem law making Wales the first part of Europe with a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels.
Now we want to go further - extending this ground-breaking law to maternity wards, mental health services and community care teams to create an NHS that puts patients first.
Their vote will also determine whether children can enjoy a future free from pollution with much larger portions of our electricity coming from green sources or whether short term opportunism will lead to more premature deaths from the environmental damage.
A vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats can change Wales's future – your future.
The last week has been emotional for all of us. Shared grief and disbelief have united our otherwise divided nation, at least temporarily. Banners came down, political campaigning ceased and we all took a moment to stand still and take these dreadful news in.
Words will never be enough to capture the feeling of numbness and pain and I guess it will be a long time before we can come to terms with any of it.
For a few days we forgot about the ins and outs of politics and focused on what makes us human and what brings us together: In this case grief, but also love and compassion. Our hearts went out to the victims and their families, regardless of where we come from.
It is sad that something so dreadful was the cause for this moment of unity but it gets to show that we all can pull together.
And pulling together we must in the times ahead.
Let us take keep this sense of togetherness and compassion and work on solutions for our other shared problems.
As a party we had to resume the campaign (however wrong this now feels) so that we can help solving those shared problems together.
But while we're doing this, let us hold on to our compassion and extend it to all people in need.
Let us oppose those who try to divide us and make sure Wales remains open and united.
This is Welsh Lib Dem leader Mark Williams’ statement on the Manchester attack.
I am deeply shocked and saddened by the events that took place in Manchester last night, which took the lives of at least 22 people and has injured 59 more.
This attack is an act of utter barbarity that was aimed directly at thousands of our children and young people.”
I praise the brave action of our emergency services, who acted quickly to tend to those at the Manchester Arena.
As a parent myself, I can only imagine the anguish that many are feeling, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected.
“When I was asked by the Torfaen and Monmouthshire party to stand for election I knew that I would want to dedicate as much of my time as possible but I also had the reality of being committed to a fulltime job as headteacher of two schools. The past few weeks though have been some of the most enjoyable and diverse that I have experienced. In the last week this has involved hosting visitors from Tanzania, conducting interviews, meeting parents, observing lessons and supporting at discos. A typical start for me is at 6.30 in the morning and a return home for after 7pm.
The internet has become a key resource for me, with daily updates on Twitter and Facebook on the campaign and the events that are taking place. With help from local Torfaen members my team and I have used social media to get our message out. The evenings are good to prepare campaign literature and materials for distribution with the team. On one evening I went to a local supermarket to pick up empty crisp boxes so that campaign literature could be boxed up and sent to the Post Office in Cardiff. The weekends though are my key time to get leaflets out and meet people on doorstep in Torfaen.
So what are people talking about on the doorstep in Torfaen?The people of Torfaen I have met are wanting to talk about the issues that matter to them. Whether they agree with my political stand point or not I want to listen to how they feel and try to make a difference for them. The campaign has also cost me a pair of shoes. After campaigning for 3 hours one Saturday morning in the Henllys area, I stepped in the car and the sole of my shoe fell off!” I estimate that I have covered over 20 miles since starting the campaign and I lost half a stone. Of the issues that people are talking about most on the doorstep, health and social care are the most talked about, followed by Brexit. A lot of people are concerned that Theresa May is focused on Hard Brexit rather than looking at fairer funding for health and social care. There is a sense that she is out of touch with many ordinary people in Wales.
How much does it all cost? Andy Street spent nearly one million pounds on his campaign to become the Tory mayor for the West Midlands. We have spent a fraction of that on my entire campaign in Torfaen. A lot of time is spent by local people helping out and supporting with their own time.
Andrew Best is the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Torfaen
Ed Fordham, campaign coordinator for Mid and West Wales, on his time in Wales
After 24 hours at home (as I type this I realise it was in fact 19 hours) and I'm back on the train dashing back to Cambria - Wales, Ceredigion, Aberystwyth.
And as I leap on the train - mid conversation to the team my husband gesticulates furiously drawing me to the doors. "The seat you have grabbed," he whispers, "its next to Quentin Letts." Mercifully and timely the countryside of Cheshire intervenes to cut off my conversation and I return to my seat more aware and more guarded now.
We swap notes, Quentin and I, about the General Election, he's been to the Tory Manifesto launch in Halifax and was at the Lib Dem Nightclub in East London previously, and we mildly gossip about Ceredigion electing Mark Williams and the Liberal traditional battle in the marches and borders of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Powys. And then back to our work.
But it reminds me of the reality about elections of the number of participants - there is an assumption and an oft heard assertion that journalists are all London based, metropolitan elite, when in fact many of them are out about and more listening to what is said and hearing what people think and say.
Indeed oft unknown to the public is the extent to which journalists dig under the surface of elections - they see and hear the unguarded moments, they meet and speak to voters, they see behind the scenes. In fact as well as the parties, the campaigns, the leaflets, the manifestos and pledges, the voters, the candidates there are also the journalists. Have a little thought for them as they try and grasp, distill and report what is going on. One last tip: be careful. You never know they might be sitting next to you as you vent your frustration at someone.
note to self: check the Quentin Letts column tomorrow and see if he heard me on the phone.