One of the myths of modern politics is that ‘personality’ doesn’t matter. The argument goes that the only thing that is important is the policies a person stands for. Policies are of course important but the ‘personality’ of a person standing for elected office is also vital.
This is true whether we are thinking of a Councillor, a Member of Parliament or indeed an Assembly Member. As the MP for Caerphilly for the past ten years, I have had literally thousands of people either attending my advice surgeries or contacting my Constituency Office seeking assistance. For a person to approach their elected representative, that person must have confidence in the discretion, integrity and honesty of their representative.
In the forthcoming Assembly election in Caerphilly, the ‘personality’ of the candidates will be an issue. Most people believe that the contest in Caerphilly is between Ron Davies, the Plaid candidate, and Jeff Cuthbert for Labour. I know both individuals very well. As an MP, and indeed before I was an MP, I worked with both Ron and Jeff and I have absolutely no doubt that Jeff Cuthbert has an abundance of the personal qualities which a good representative needs.
Some might say that I am being hard on Ron. But just take a glance at his election address. In it he claims to be personally responsible for, amongst other things, achieving European Funding for Wales, the new hospital in Ystrad Mynach and the on-going regeneration of Bargoed.
Take European Funding. It was not Ron Davies who succeeded in obtaining Objective One funding for West Wales and the Valleys, it was Tony Blair.
I was a Member of the European Parliament at the time and I saw firsthand how the British Prime Minister won this funding. Ron, as Welsh Secretary was, at best, a minor player.
Then there is Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr. Ron may have been an Assembly Member at the time the hospital was agreed but he was not a Member of the Welsh Assembly Government which made the decision, nor was he even an ‘Independent’ Councillor when the then Labour-led Caerphilly Council decided to make available the land at Ystrad Fawr.
Importantly, it was the people of the Caerphilly Borough who campaigned for this hospital for over 30 years and it is they who deserve the credit for it being built.
Similarly, in his election address, Ron claims credit for the Bargoed by-pass and the town’s regeneration. Yet it was when Caerphilly Council was led by Labour, with councillors from Bargoed playing an important role, that the work was agreed and begun in earnest.
I believe the people of the Caerphilly Constituency are already making up their minds. They will vote for the candidate who has consistently displayed discretion, integrity and honesty – Jeff Cuthbert.
Labour MP for Caerphilly