How Mark Williams intends to revitalise the Welsh Liberal Democrats

In his first interview as Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, for Wales Online, Mark Williams talked about how the party would rebuild following the shattering defeat in the Assembly elections.

He seemed to cast doubt on the wisdom of concentrating campaigning in 4 constituency seats, saying the party needed to reach out to liberals across Wales:

He said: “There are huge swathes of Wales where we did not campaign at all, and that’s what we need to change.

“There are groups of Liberal activists around the country that need to be supported [to] build strength on the ground.”

Mr Williams said election efforts had been concentrated in Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Ceredigion, Montgomeryshire – only the first of which was won.

Adamant there are many potential supporters in Wales, he said: “There’s a lot of people out there, maybe who were disaffected by the coalition experience, who we need to draw back into our party.

“Whatever the percentage was on Thursday, there are far more Liberals, people of Liberal thinking, out there.”

He looked to history to show that the party would recover:

Lib Dems face the challenge of keeping a high profile with a sole AM in the Senedd but Mr Williams wants this to be a “temporary aberration”.

He points to times when the party has only had one MP, saying: “We were in this position in 1992.

“I remember going to the meeting with Alex Carlile in Newtown and we’d just lost the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency and we’d just lost the Ceredigion constituency; Alex was appointed our leader and we moved forward.”

And what about possible electoral pacts?

Mr Williams said: “I do think, given the challenges, affecting the progressive forces – to put it as loosely as that – we do need to talk to each other and we do need to work together where possible.

“But that hasn’t had a broad airing in the party and I think we can confidently expect that the airing will take place in due course.

“Would it have had an impact? Well, it may well of in all honesty…

“But I think the problem with what was suggested – what, three months before an election? – none of the parties involved had the opportunity to reflect and digest on those things.”

 

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4 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 14th May '16 - 5:22pm

    Nigel Farage is still disagreeing with Neil Hamilton, after the elections.

  • Gwyn Williams 14th May '16 - 9:22pm

    I was Chair of the Welsh Party in 1992 when we met in Newtown. Every Liberal or Liberal Democrat MP elected in Wales from the foundation of the Welsh Party in the 60s until and including 1997 became Leader. It was an occupational hazard rather than an honour. We have spent the last 6 years in a battle for survival. Very soon we will declare that battle won and move on to areas new outside the core.

  • Gwyn “Very soon we will declare that battle won and move on to areas new outside the core.” I’m sure that those responsible for the mess we are in wish they could declare the battle won now. However the battle to turn away from oblivion is still no nearer won than it was a year ago, and pretending it will soon be won just encourages those who don’t want to own up to our decline and puts our survival yet more at risk.

  • I imagine a lot of people were voting for Kirsty Williams rather than the Lib Dems so Mark Williams’ first job will be to show that he can be as strong a leader as her. If he can do that and invigorate the party then Wales is ready to be a base from which you can show off the strength of your ideas to other parts of the country at general election time.

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