Elizabeth Evans’ speech to Friday night Conference rally

Liz EvansWay back in 2011, Mark Cole wrote for this site about his wonderful local candidate for Ceredigion, Elizabeth Evans:

So she knows her stuff does our Elizabeth and she’s taking her passion for her home county out onto the doorsteps. Her concerns for our local health service are chiming with the fears and worries of local residents – it being the biggest concern the length and breath of the county. The packed public meeting held in Aberystwyth only last week regarding the future of healthcare provision in Bronglais Hospital proved testament to that. Elizabeth has a particular empathy with these concerns because as a past-chair of Mencap Ceredigion, she has an interest that is reflected in her current campaign to secure local facilities for elderly patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Last night, I met her for the first time when she spoke at the rally. She spoke with such clarity and passion and concern for her community. She’s smart, caring, strong and funny and she’d be a fab AM.

Here is her speech in full:

Fellow Liberal Democrats. I wish I knew then what I know now!

I’m going to take you back to 2011.

I was the candidate in Ceredigion and the Liberal Democrats were a year into the Westminster coalition. Yet it felt like a Westminster election – of course Plaid and Labour wanted it that way. They behaved as if they truly had the moral high ground, preaching the politics of betrayal and blame. The Liberal Democrats in coalition had let everyone down. Really? Well look at the government we have now!

In 2011 Plaid said they wouldn’t close schools, wouldn’t close libraries, and they certainly wouldn’t close residential homes. Well they’ve done all that running Ceredigion County Council!  Plaid made so many manifesto promises they knew they couldn’t keep and they’ve broken just about all of them. We broke one.

Yet the politics of blame and betrayal continues. Plaid do what they do best – they point the finger of blame wherever they can. Westminster gets the blame for everything even when it’s the Welsh Government who determine local government funding cuts. Plaid hypocracy! I didn’t say that by the way, a resident of Llandysul said it last weekend.

Friends, I wish I knew then what I know now!

During the last Assembly elections, the effects of the unwanted Labour/Plaid health board reorganisation were being realised,

And let me tell you: it didn’t look good for Ceredigion.

Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth is right on the outskirts of the Hywel Dda health board area,

And we could see the writing on the wall – our health services would be downgraded.

So we made a postcard with a picture of Bronglais Hospital, and written on are the words: “Going… Going… Gone?”

Let me tell you, that ruffled a few nationalist feathers!

That won’t happen, Plaid said. The Lib Dems are just scaremongering, they screamed – and they did scream!

And Plaid won the election.

And then… it started happening.

Our inpatient beds – axed.

Operations cancelled – hundreds.

Our mental health ward – closed.

Our maternity services – downgraded.

Our GP surgeries – disappearing.

Hundreds of patients forced to travel hours on end just for routine treatments.

Do you know, It’s almost as if we were right all along!

The constant erosion, the bit-by-bit dismantling of our local health service caused great harm and suffering to our residents and hurt our communities. Plaid’s accusation of “scaremongering” has certainly left them red-faced since the election.

Which is why the logic of their latest health policy baffles me.

Did you know that Plaid want to merge every local health board in Wales, and run every single hospital in Wales from Cardiff.

Every single one. From the Maelor in Wrexham to the Withybush in Haverfordwest. And yes, Bronglais in Aberystwyth too!

Don’t get me wrong, there were frustrating times when I wanted to “scrap them all” when the promise of a Health Centre for Aberaeron was broken or when they took the beds out of the plans for the new health facility in Cardigan. But it’s not the answer. We’ve had one reorganisation in 2007 when Plaid were in coalition with Labour. Now they want another one. There’s no getting away from it, Plaid have the same centralist agenda as the Labour Party!

Plaid want a complete reorganisation off health. It’s the last thing our residents want and they are  telling us this time and time again on the doorstep.

Friends, My New Years resolutions always start in February. I like to get my superficial January resolutions out of the way first, you know the type, losing a stone before spring; don’t buy as many shoes and stop watching absolutely every football programme on iplayer!

Predictably I haven’t lost weight; I bought new shoes less than two hours ago. And well, the football resolution is always the least achievable. A girl has to have some entertainment!

Hello February!

My resolution involves all of us.

I read an article which said when making resolutions we shouldn’t say “I’m going to win or We’re going to win”, in a resolution we should challenge ourselves. So the resolution should say, Can we win Ceredigion? Friends, yes WE can! And I need your help to do it. Last year we won in Ceredigion, and this year we’re going to win in Ceredigion, I feel it in my water! Mark and I would make a formidable team. And do you know, we’re going to win in lots of other places too! So, can WE win? Yes we can! I reckon Barak Obama was onto something here!

We need to return a strong team of Assembly Members supporting the amazing job Kirsty Williams is doing as our leader and she has some pretty formidable Assembly Members to help her already.  I want very much to be part of that team. There is too much at stake for the people of Wales for the Liberal Democrats not to continue to play a full role in welsh politics. The Liberal Democrats under Kirsty have proven that we can be effective in opposition but can rise to the challenge of negotiating with government where our policies can be delivered.

We’re already putting our heart and soul into May’s election. We need everyone out campaigning and that includes your grandmothers, aunts and uncles! I find my Corgi Iolo is a great vote winner!

We are already taking the fight to the doorstep, every doorstep. In Ceredigion we’re fighting hard to take this seat from Plaid, and I’d urge you all to pay a visit before May to lend us a hand.

If you do, you’ll find out soon enough that Cardis are well renowned for not giving much away.

(or if you want to find out sooner, just ask Mark Cole to buy you a pint tonight! His pockets will magically become too deep for his hands…)

Cardis always keep their cards close to their chest, especially when you’re canvassing them – as our IR Cymru members discovered during a recent Action Day!

But –  there is a way to tell which way they’re leaning.

Pan mae nhw’n gorffen y sgwrs ac yn dweud hwyl fawr, maen nhw wastad yn dweud dau beth.

Naill ai “pob lwc”, neu “pob lwc eniwe”.

When you’re ending conversation, they’ll either say “good luck”, or they’ll say “good luck anyway”.

Though my team keep telling me off, because there isn’t a column for that on Connect! There needs to be!!

And I’m pleased to report to you, that there’s a different mood in the air now than there was five years ago. I’m encountering far fewer “good luck anyways”, far more “good lucks” on the doorstep and a great deal of out and out support and offers of help.

And I think that is coming down to three simple words:

The N. H. S.

Education

Economy.

Three words which resonate in every community and particularly in rural Ceredigion.

You can see that Plaid are slowly but surely forgetting their rural roots.

You know, if you listened to Leanne Wood in those leaders’ debates, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Wales ended at the Valleys. Rhondda this, Valleys that.

They’ve ditched any pretence of standing up for rural communities, becoming an ultra left socialist party which, not surprisingly, does not resonate with the people of Ceredigion – the roots of socialism do not run deep in Ceredigion after all! Leanne Woods’s Plaid is far removed from the daily lives of the residents of Llandysul or Tregaron! That’s not what Ceredigion needs and it’s not what rural Wales needs.

 

I’ve always believed that in order to drive our communities forward,

local people should be in the driving seat whether it is in rural Wales or a city centre.

It’s one of the key things that makes me a Liberal Democrat:

That belief that our communities are better off when local people are given as much power as possible.

When the Plaid-led council quadrupled the charges for street closures for carnivals and shows I made sure that the representatives from all those groups came to the council chamber to make their case against such a short sighted tax on our communities. Thecouncil backed down. They thought they could get away with it. They didn’t. Strong, thriving communities are vital to our survival.

With the full backing of the business community I’ve been pushing our Plaid-led council to offer two hours free car parking in all council-owned car parks across our towns. Two hours. I did my research, my coatings. It’s achievable.

It would give our struggling high streets and independent shops a much-needed boost and the Plaid Cabinet just can’t see the benefit.

Plaid just don’t get the whole localism thing and any progressive suggestions to empower our communities just hits a roadblock. The truth is they have one eye on government and the other eye on copying the success of the Scottish Nationalists. Independence for Wales at any cost.

So let me rephrase what I said earlier:

Our communities are better off when local people are given as much power as possible,

and when they put Liberal Democrats in charge!

So, friends, that’s just what we’ll have to do.

Street by street, every town, every village,

We will fight day in, day out, to protect our local services and to win the Ceredigion Assembly seat.

Wrth gwrs, mae croeso mawr i chi yng Ngheredigion unrhyw bryd.

There will always be a warm welcome for you in Ceredigion, to help turn our county orange in May.

Thank you. Diolch!

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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2 Comments

  • Lynne Featherstone 6th Feb '16 - 3:59pm

    She was absolutely wonderful!

  • Harry Hayfield 6th Feb '16 - 10:50pm

    And let me tell you, Ceredigion may seem to most people as “that constituency with the sole Liberal Democrat MP in the far flung reaches of Wales that has never followed electoral rules since the 1980’s” but to me, as a local Liberal Democrat representative on our community council in the county, when Tim comes and visits the Liberal Democrat GAINS on May 6th in Wales, his first stop will be Cardiff Central but then he’ll come and visit Ceredigion and we will give him the biggest welcome possible in the form of the first Liberal Democrat constituency AM for the county!

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