Candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections are taking part in meetings all over Wales at the moment, they are meeting with different groups and organisations to put forward their views and to try to engage with local people about the issues that matter to them. As a candidate in the Delyn constituency I have had a very pleasant experience at these local events and have appreciated listening to the views of local people on a variety of different topics. Although I regularly disagree with many of the views put forward by representatives from the London based parties, generally speaking, apart from the odd dig we are all usually pretty civil to each other.
In my experience, the most interesting hustings usually take place with students at schools and colleges who always ask very challenging and interesting questions. These events tend to have a less formal approach and as politicians we are aware of the important role we have to play in terms of engaging with young people and trying to create an interest in both government and the democratic process. I was therefore very disappointed that I was unable to attend today's meeting with students at Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold due to the time of the event being changed. Luckily, our Regional candidate Heledd Fychan volunteered to attend on behalf of Plaid Cymru instead and to speak to the students. Unfortunately, Heledd didn't quite have the positive experience she was expecting.
Although all the teachers and students were models of good behaviour, the other candidates, namely Lib Dem candidate Michelle Jones, Conservative candidate Antoinette Sandbatch and Labour candidate Sandy Mewies, decided to use the event to decend into a shouting and slanging match in front of the students that lasted for more than half the meeting. The first two ladies being much more vicious in tearing chunks off each other than Labours Mrs Mewies, who unfortunately also ended up joining in by the end. The event was described by Plaid's Heledd Fychan as 'The worst hustings I've ever been to' (and she's been to quite a few). Heledd describes today's events in her own words in a video blog that can be seen here:
What a shame that both students and teachers were subjected to such a vicious display of the worst kind of politics. Even more disappointing in my view that this disgraceful behaviour came from experienced female politicians, who should instead have been creating a good impression and acting as role models for our next generation. It was left to Heledd as the youngest member of the panel to set an example by refusing to engage with the school yard behaviour of the other candidates, much to the delight of the students present who openly expressed their disapproval of the farce unfolding before them.