Monday 1 February 2010

Question Time in Saundersfoot

Friday night in Saundersfoot was the first time that the four candidates for this constituency came together for a debate. The meeting was organised by the Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group, who did a good job of getting a large crowd together on a cold evening (and in a cold hall!) to discuss matters environmental and energy policy.

We had a great range of well-thought questions, many of them coming from young people in the audience, who were obviously concerned and engaged with the issues which we face. Andy Middleton was a good and fair independent chair for the evening, and gave all of us the opportunity to put our views across.

From my point of view, I thought that the session went well, and I enjoyed it.

There was one very detailed question on which I was clueless – what does the Marine Bill do for Pembrokeshire? I didn't know, and said so; it's difficult to be knowledgeable on everything. From the answer he gave, I don't think that Simon Hart, the Tory candidate, had much of a clue either; he just wasn't up to admitting it.

It turned out that the sitting Labour MP, Nick Ainger, knew exactly what it was all about, because he had been a member of the parliamentary committee scrutinising the Bill. Curiously, the question was asked by his next-door neighbour and former Labour AM, Christine Gwyther. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Apart from that, we had questions on climate change, nuclear energy, tidal power, population, transport policy, and farming methods. A very wide range of topics indeed. One thing that I particularly liked – and I think that the audience appreciated it too - was that there was no political point-scoring; all the answers stuck to attempting to answer the questions and set out the views of the four parties on the issues, rather then denigrating each other.

I hope that we'll have many more similar sessions.


Christine Gwyther said...

John - as a veteran of at least a million of these hustings you should know by now that questions usually reveal more about the questioner than the questioned! In the case of the marine and coastal access act I have been "banging on" about it for years, sharing platforms with environmentalists and industrialists who were keen to hurry it along. The Act is good news for joined up legislation and I think will provide a good measure of how well Labour and Plaid in government can cope with cross portfolio working. The Act covers marine planning (including integrated coastal zone management) in the hands of Jane Davidson and inshore fisheries - the remit of Elin Jones. And, getting all parochial, the simplification and streamlining of marine law may not fully insure us from future cockle wars in Ferryside and Llansteffan, but may limit the damage. Every little helps. Best wishes. Christine Gwyther

John Dixon said...


Not sure that I've actually hit the million yet; certainly hope that it doesn't feel like that to those who attend them!

Having looked up the Act since Friday, when I had to admit that I hadn't a clue, I agree that it's good news if implemented effectively. And Jane and Elin are certainly likely to want to do just that.