A decision by the First Minister that volunteer political leaflet delivery isn’t allowed under lockdown restrictions is “an attack on our democracy”, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have said.
Whilst supporting the many measures the Welsh Government have implemented to tackle and irradicate Covid-19, Welsh Liberal Democrats firmly believe that election leaflets are a vital part of allowing the electorate to make an informed decision and party volunteers should be able to deliver these.
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.
With just over 100 days to go until the scheduled Senedd elections, Welsh Lib Dems argue that the delivery of literature is a vital part of democracy. Any restrictions on volunteer delivery will adversely affect smaller parties and independent candidates, creating an unfair advantage to larger parties.
Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that election leaflets are vital to allow the electorate to make an informed decision, and not allowing easy distribution of them could bring the results of any election into question.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“This is an attack on our democracy and a clear, partisan attempt to prevent election campaigning. 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.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Political and Constitutional Reform and Ceredigion candidate, Cadan ap Tomos added:
“These elections need to be fair as well as safe. 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.”
Commenting on the latest set of unemployment figures, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“This slight increase in unemployment figures will come as a blow to many especially those recently made redundant who are looking to return to work.
“The UK Government’s furlough scheme is keeping many a float, but it is not a sustainable solution if this pandemic continues.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for an economic re-think including the creation of a Green Jobs Fund.
“This government backed project would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to both tackle potential mass unemployment, and reshape the economy on more environmental lines. The Green Jobs Fund would include a green jobs guarantee, giving people training in new, environmental industries such as renewable energy and insulating homes. Such jobs would include the productions and installation of home insulation products as well as and energy conservation and the creation and construction of new renewable energy projects.”
Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called for the creation of a Cross Party Economic Recovery Council for Wales to help Welsh businesses hit by the Covid pandemic move onto the next stage of their recovery.
Faced with yet more uncertainty many businesses admit they’re struggling and don’t know what do and say they need more than one off grants from the Welsh Government to survive the next few years.
The Cross Party Economic Recovery Panel would be chaired by the Economy Minister of the day and have representatives from all major parties as well as experts from businesses organisations as well as welsh academic experts.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“Covid has brought many Welsh businesses to their knees, especially small businesses and those across the hospitality sector.
“The Welsh and UK Governments have helped with one off grants and the furlough scheme, but for many businesses this has just kept them afloat. Many businesses are seeking ways to rebuild and renew themselves once it is safe to do so.
“I want the Welsh Government to listen to business, and to commit itself to action, so that business and Government can work together in the difficult times we face. I understand the constraints – especially financial - under which the Welsh Government operates, and I believe this should not be a matter of party politics. It is about listening to each other and working together to ensure that the Welsh Government’s resources are targeted in the most effective way.”
Sally Stephenson who runs a small business in Cowbridge and will contest the Senedd Vale of Glamorgan seat in May added:
“For most businesses life just won’t return to normal when the vaccine is rolled out, many have downsized, taken on extra debt or turned down significant orders. All this will take time to rebuild.
“Lots of businesses rely on seasonal trade either during the summer months, or in the run up to Christmas to see them through their quit periods. What businesses need is support and help over a sustained period in order to fully get back up and running and a guarantee that support will be there for several years to come.
“We need all parties to sit down with businesses and business leaders to discuss and a agree a sustainable and effective way forward.”
Jane's letter to Ken Skates can be read here.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have renewed their calls for the Six Nations tournament to remain available on terrestrial television.
Reports indicate that a deal between the Six Nations and CVC Capital partners has been agreed, and it is thought that the majority of games could move behind a paywall.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“The Six Nations and their predecessors have been a staple of Welsh life for generations.
“Any move to remove these games from free to view TV will come as a bitter blow to hundreds of thousands of loyal fans.
“The Six Nations have previously been classed as a ‘Group A’ sporting event, along with the Olympics and FIFA World Cup Finals meaning they need to be shown on free to air channels. I’m today calling on the UK Government to urgently confirm that no fans in Wales will be penalised by any deal.”
Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called for an upfront premium grant to small and micro-businesses in Wales, as well as to freelancers, to help them through the next few months in light of the latest lockdown measures.
Small and family-owned businesses are set to suffer significantly with the double whammy of Brexit and the new Covid lockdown, with experts are predicting closures could extend into the spring.
Many small and micro-businesses in Wales are either ineligible for Welsh Government support or are receiving so little it prevents them from becoming financially stable in these uncertain times.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“Each successive lockdown hits business harder, with few having recovered their resilience from the last lockdown. The effect is cumulative - recovery from each closure takes longer. Much of the support business receives has so far been in the form of loans, which will need to be repaid eventually.
"There is a big issue of long-term resilience for firms, many of which are generations old, as well as getting businesses through the immediate crisis. This is a huge threat to our local high streets. Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see thriving towns and villages; but there is a real danger that many communities across Wales will be hollowed out, as local shops, cafes and pubs have to close.
“Most of the support from the Welsh Government so far has been targeted at businesses with medium to high levels of staff and many small and micro-businesses are struggling. Many of whom aren’t getting the support they need as they pay small or no business rates or operate from home/small and mobile premises.
“Small businesses, micro-businesses and family-owned businesses are the lifeblood of Welsh communities and the Welsh economy. They employ people, ensure our vulnerable are looked after and are the beating hearts of our Welsh communities.
“The lockdown decisions are needed to save lives, but the Welsh Government needs to urgently put measures in place to save our communities. We want a premium payment upfront, in addition to the support already announced, for small and family-owned businesses.”
Our frontline workers are going above and beyond during the coronavirus crisis - we want to say thank you.
Our Frontline workers have put themselves on the line every day to keep us safe, fed, and looked after.
Our Doctors, Nurses, and Carers, as well as delivery drivers and shopkeepers, have done everything possible to look after our communities in a year when nothing is normal. Coronavirus has affected every part of our lives and is putting a huge strain on our services.
We want to say thank you. Thank you to all those who have worked tirelessly on our behalf. Thank you to the healthcare workers who have saved lives and loved ones, thank you to the postal workers and delivery drivers who have got us what we need, and thank you to the service workers who have kept our shops stocked and our bellies full.
The best thing we can do over the next few months, including the Christmas period, is to follow the official advice. This means maintaining distance when you are out and about, wearing a mask, and quarantining yourself when you're showing symptoms. We are now so close to the distribution of a vaccine, it would be an insult to throw away all their hard work.
We are also circulating a letter of appreciation to frontline staff, to show our thanks to them for putting themselves at risk to keep us all safe.
If you'd like to add your thanks, you can do so by signing the card:
Following today’s announcement from the Welsh Government about the new ‘Alert Level 4’ lockdown starting on 28 December Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Whilst many will view these measures as sensible given the recent spike in Covid cases, many people who work in the hospitality sector or run a small business will be devastated after a year when they have struggled to survive.
Yesterday (Mon 14th Dec) in The House of Lords, The Labour Party failed to stand up for Wales and devolution when the abstained in a key vote regarding the State Aid in the Internal Market Bill.The key amendment which had the support of the Welsh and Scottish Governments was defeated by 99 votes - after 170 of Labour’s 177 peers, including all Welsh Labour Peers failed to vote
In response to today’s unemployment figures the Welsh Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Andrew Parkhurst said:
With just 16 days until the end of the transition period the UK Government has admitted it has failed to secure land at Holyhead to carry out the extra checks on vehicles entering the country leading to fears of gridlock in the area.