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.”