We’re looking forward to a lively campaign in the run up to the Council elections in May. We‘ve just had an invasion over the weekend by campaigners from outside Caerleon. Both the Lib Dems and the Tories think that our seats are ripe for the picking, and Lib Dems are already using underhand tactics such as fake questionnaires which are designed to look like Labour’s and dodgy Facebook tricks. Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems will be relying on money and support from outside Caerleon.
No party has the right to rule, but it’s worth pointing out that our local Labour councillors and members have had an unsurpassed record of service in our community over the years. OK we’re losing two of our hugely respected veterans, but that wasn’t because of vote rigging or left wing coups. We are a broad church party representing many strands of opinion, and all the applicants in our selection process were very strong local candidates, with deep roots in the community. It was a very difficult choice and we live in an age when elections (and selections) are becoming increasingly unpredictable.
The Tories have always had a problem finding strong local candidates and they often have to lure them from other parties or other parts of Newport. They have even been trying it on with us. Their latest candidate in Caerleon, who defected from the Lib Dems, fits both descriptions. The Lib Dems – to be fair – have now chosen three local candidates, and we respect that. What we don’t respect is Lib Dem and Tory outsiders coming in and telling everybody what a bad job Newport City Council is doing, and how awful Caerleon is under Labour.
The Caerleon Campus is still a big issue Many of our members were genuinely gutted when it closed, because so many of them have either worked there, studied there or had strong associations with USW. The fact is that the council and even the Welsh Government have very little say if a University wants to close a Campus, and some our opponents have quietly acknowledged that. In the meantime our councillors have been working closely with the community to minimise the effect on Caerleon
Over the years many non-Labour, non-local candidates have stood in Caerleon , backed up by money from outside. We raise virtually all our funding ourselves. Most of our opponents who come into Caerleon in search of votes have never actually done anything for the town except encourage criticism. By contrast, many of our members and supporters are deeply involved in voluntary work in the town, helping to launch and organise events and projects in Caerleon, working with local charities, sitting on school governors and so on. They have been doing so for years. That’s the sort of people they are.