I underwent a fair bit of soul searching before writing this blog, because whenever I’ve heard the term “I’m not a racist but…” I’ve known that 90% of the time the viewpoint will turn out to be of various degrees of racism.
Before the election, I had noticed when reading the online biographies of Liberal Democrat candidates for Welsh Constituencies in the General Election that a large number seemed to have born outside Wales.
On his blog Miserable Old Fart Alwyn ap Huw makes further comment on this in relation to piece by Cynog Dafis and the reaction from subordinate central. Freedom as they call it.
It is with regret that I must agree with Alwyn because although I have no objection to birthplace of any candidate. Indeed Plaid Cymru often has candidate whose origins are not Welsh (Janet Ryder for Instance). The fact as (Alwyn reports) that well over half of the Liberal Democrat Candidates was born outside of Wales and only 1 out of 40 was fluent in Welsh is worrying.
It is worrying because it could lead to the Liberal Democrats being seen as an English Party.
It is worrying that it can give the impression that there are no suitable “Welsh” candidate and that we are somehow inferior.
It is worrying that it could (on both sides) be seen as a form of racism.
It is worrying because they would never put up candidates in a similar fashion in Scotland.
The Lib Dems are of course are often the first to point that any candidate from outside the constituency is not a Local candidate. The difficulty when pointing their position however it is that they can call any critic’s of Lib Dem selection policy Anti-English racist as they have on subordinate central.
But pointing out the actual facts is not racist, and I would strongly argue that any claim that those born outside Wales should somehow be excluded from office is abhorrent.
A number of MP’s who came from outside Wales have served their adopted nation well and even have given more support to devolution and the Welsh Language than their Welsh Colleagues..
A prime example was Stuart Rendel who was born in Plymouth and MP for Montgomery (1880-94) and who was a major benefactor of Aberystwyth University and the National Library.
And indeed if criticism of Welsh and bilingual policy ever comes from Lib Dem voices it’s more likely from their home grown "talents"such as Pontypridd’s Mike Powell.
The actual reason for the large number of the Lib Dems candidates from outside Wales seems to be due to the fact that they came here as Students and channelled their resources into local government. This somewhat explains their “Stronghold” of Cardiff Central” Have they pushed out local candidates in favour of their politically opportunist University clique?
Indeed this, rather than by National origin may be a factor in the preponderance of candidates born outside Wales, and points to a greater problem which (all parties must address) of the growing professionalism within our candidates at all levels, and how this is seen a career move, rather than any real political commitment. The Lib Dems in Wales who are following this path may be sticking out because of their origins.