Tonight's TCC accountability meeting in Wrecsam was of a far higher standard than that in Clwyd South. All four candidates were capable speakers, although the probing questions revealed some serious differences between the parties.
Arfon Jones, Plaid's candidate, managed to provide by far the most relevant answers to the local problems being posed. While others waffled about climate change and the Living Wage, he provided concrete and specific examples of how Plaid was delivering on these matters. We learned, for example, how Plaid councillors' persistence coupled with the unions, had helped Wrecsam council deliver a first step towards a Living Wage. The Tory could only refer to Boris Johnson in London - perhaps reflecting how remote he is from local politics.
Questions from the floor on Trident, Afghanistan, MPs' sleaze and affordable housing showed that the 100-strong audience were progressively inclined.
Ian Lucas, the sitting MP, didn't like the accusation that he was a member of a war-mongering party (yes, he was his usual thin-skinned self) and rather desperately claimed that the £100bn Trident nuclear system was needed for "protection". From Iran and North Korea apparently.
The Lib Dem sat on the fence and the Tory was energetically pro-Trident. Only Arfon said it was financially and morally unaffordable. Arfon also stood out as he described Afghanistan as "our Vietnam" and said Plaid was the only party to oppose that war from the outset, calling for a phased withdrawal like the Dutch and Canadians in the coming year.
On sleaze, Lucas apologised for being part of a system that failed in Westminster over expenses, although denying he did anything wrong personally. You get the feeling he'd been made to say it. Many who see the profit he has and will make from his state-subsidised second home will disagree about his culpability.
There was a real anger amongst the audience about bankers' bonuses - Arfon said we should emulate Barack Obama's cap on bankers. Lucas countered that we couldn't because the USA is a continent. Doh!
Tom Rippeth, the perennial Lib Dem loser, started a groove that would recur: "I agree with Arfon". Mmm, is this just a Lib Dem thing?
On affordable housing, Arfon went for the jugular - why is Wrecsam paying £11.5m to subsidise London councils through an outdated housing subsidy and why has the present MP done nothing to stop this? The others waffled platitudes while Lucas had the cheek to defend developers who didn't want to pay their share of the council's additional burden (road improvements, schools and other services) that otherwise the taxpayer would pick up.
From attending both Clwyd S and Wrecsam TCC accountability meetings, it's apparent that the only people talking about local issues and championing the constituency's needs are the Plaid candidates. Without exception, the other London party candidates took their brief from central office and failed to engage with the very real anger in the area. TCC deserve a real pat on the back for organising a series of well-attended debates. More please!