While I often disagreed with David Cameron and his government, one was at least able to argue with most of them rationally and get a straight answer a lot of the time.
Had I needed any more convincing that the Tory party has returned to its condescending and nasty days, Conservative candidate for Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr Havard Hughes certainly hammered that point home last night.
With amounts of venom and arrogance that make TM and Amber Rudd look almost charming he layed into this opponents at a Llandeilo hustings with as many personal attacks and false claims as the Murdoch press.
He foolishly repeated already discounted accusations from last Thursday’s hustings against current Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards, reading from his script “…Edwards mentioned the term agriculture only 11 times in his time in parliament.”
As was pointed out to him last week already, agriculture is a devolved issue and is decided for our constituency in the Welsh Assembly. Edwards was not present so it was up to Lesley Prosser, Lib Dem Candidate, to remind him of the answer he already had received then. But since this was a hustings involving farmers it was probably too good a piece of ammunition (although false) to throw at the audience, even though he already knew better. He was not rewarded for his hostility, though. People saw through the vacuous nature of his attacks and even applause from his party supporters was shy and reserved most of the time.
I’m proud of my LibDem colleague Lesley Prosser for keeping her calm under fire and responding with dignity and plenty of facts, a language that never will go out of fashion in my circles.
Mud slinging seemed to be the strongest suit of Hughes, who also thought it a good idea to discredit Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Woods on the sole grounds of not speaking Welsh. Lib Dem candidate Lesley Prosser took up the case for those Welsh borns – like Leanne – who were not raised bi-lingually. The audience then reminded Hughes that he was not even living in Wales and was hardly in a position to judge people’s Welshness on their language.
Hughes’ hostility and rightwing views on the EU earned him a space to the right of UKIP’s Neal Hamilton, who seemed moderate in comparison and who had at least the curtesy to stick to politeness and to rational argument (however wrong in content it might be).
A vocal audience had to remind Hughes also to answer the questions actually asked instead of drifting into repetitive and robotic spewing of party slogans and attacks on others in order to avoid his own weak points. Refusing to answer seems to be the Tory policy as we all know from noteworthy evasive robotic responses from TM.
“Whenever you are in a tough spot you simply move on,” Lesley Prosser pointed out to Hughes, in the hope of him coming out with facts instead of aggression and deflections.
When an audience member, an acclaimed expert on sheep farming, answered his rhetoric question on the different tariffs for lamb from New Zealand and Wales, he simply repeated his question as if it hadn’t been answered.
I cannot see those tactics going down well on the negotiation table in Brussels, or elsewhere. The Conservatives seem to have adapted the style of Donald Trump – a blatant insult on the intelligence of their audience and electorate.
Luckily on both hustings that I attended their “charms” didn’t work on those present.
I’m appaled by this pathetic style of campaigning. If this is all the Tories have got they deserve a disaster at the ballot box. Last week Hughes said when pushed on the matter why the Tory manifesto is not costed and contains no sums: “We’re in government, we don’t have to.”
With such a lack of reasonable arguing and actual facts and figures, any government other than such false, heartless and nasty people will do for me. Trying to discredit others with dirty tactics only shows you up and we don’t have to venture far to find the holes in the Tory manifesto and arguments.
Go back to Coventry, Havard and don’t come back. Wales is better than that. Much better!