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Get to know your candidates – a look at Cardiff West

IN six months the people of Cardiff West will be voting for the person to represent them in the Assembly for the next four years.

2011 Cardiff Wests election results

2011 Cardiff Wests election results

Three candidates have been named so far, the Conservatives and Greens haven’t chosen theirs yet.We quizzed the trio to help you get to know them. As other candidates come forward we will add their views too.

Cardiff West has been a safe Labour seat for the past 25 years with incumbent Mark Drakeford winning 47% of the vote in 2011. However at a time when 100-1 outsiders can become Labour leader anything is possible.

If you were a bookie what odds would you give yourself in an Assembly election?

Mark Drakeford: I took half the votes at the last election. If you look at history you will see the contest in Cardiff West has always between the Tories and Labour. Plaid think they can win. Plaid always do better in regional elections but our contest is with the Tories. I would think, without been complacent, we are the most likely party to win. But the election will be a proper contest and we have to convince people and not let them feel like we are taking them for granted.

Neil McEvoy: I’m actually looking for a price. If you hear of a bookie offering one, let me know because I quite fancy my chances.

Cadan ap Thomos: I think “plucky outsider 50/1”. You can approach a campaign and know it will be hard to win but still be honest, open and raise the issues other people are not willing to say.

What is your greatest achievement in politics to date?

MD: Opponents of the Assembly argued that it would not be up to the job. The organ donation legislation absolutely belies the criticism. I believe is a groundbreaking piece of legislation.

NM: I have not done enough yet. I’m proud of several things. One  is overturning such a large Labour majority in Fairwater and winning close on 50% of the vote, where Labour historically used to get 70%.

CaT: As a party what we are close to achieving is the More Nurses Bill. That will be a great change in healthcare that is designed to ensure there are adequate numbers of nurses on wards.

What do you see as the challenges as Cardiff West AM?

MD: Individually housing is by far the biggest issue that dominates my surgeries. If you put housing in one pile and everything else in another. Housing would still be bigger.

The collective issue are immigration and asylum.  We have a very large Bangladeshi and Pakistani community in South Riverside. We have a fantastic community there and the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities are huge contributors to life in Cardiff West. But when something goes wrong and gets into the headlines it can cause huge anxiety in those communities.

NM: We are pretty poorly served at the minute. I would like to really engage with people, by making a pledge to knock on every door over an Assembly term.

CaT: Cardiff West is a mix. Representing an area with a mixed demographic is quite a challenge. There are huge issues with regards to affordable housing and service provision. Also far-off areas like Radyr feel left out. There has been potholes on roads up there for years.

Who are your political heroes?

MD: Barbara Castle. She was a prominent figure when I was first interested in politics in my teens. A woman very much in a man’s world and her politics are my kind of politics. I still use the ideas she developed when she was Minister for Health such as a social wage. 

NM: I have several. One is Michael Collins. He was given a poisoned chalice and he signed his own death warrant in the interest of his country. He did what needed doing and helped free Ireland.

CaT: Charles Kennedy. He was leader when I was young. He always sounded like he was not just talking sense but he was talking human.

If you could have done something different during your time in politics what would it be?

MD: When I look back at the post-devolution era I think we could have been bolder in some of the things we have done. Sometimes we have run behind public opinion. Politicians thought they were breaking new ground but the public had got there first. Like smoking in public places.

NM: Left the Labour Party earlier.

CaT: I stood in the General Election and it was the first time I put my head above the parapet. It is easy to just type up a press release but harder to stand up and say it. It is important not to always be in attack mode in politics and if I was going to do anything differently I would have realised that earlier.

If you could be professional in any sport what would it be?

MD: I would be a cricketer. I’m a batsman who can bowl leg breaks.

NM: Football.

CaT: My favorite sport is Formula One but I don’t think I would want to drive the cars. I would be a cyclist. I did a bit or road racing when I was younger. Without all the drugs obviously.  

What would be your dream holiday if money was no object?

MD: If I knew that the weather would be good I would go to Pembrokeshire. It’s where I normally go and I genuinely wouldn’t go anywhere else. However the weather is not guaranteed in Pembrokeshire so I would go to Greece.

NM: The moon.

CaT: I’m afraid of flying so I wouldn’t go very far. But if I didn’t have to fly I would go to Canada. They have just elected a Liberal government with a gender equal government. So apart from been a beautiful country it sounds like a liberal paradise.

If you had to give the people of Cardiff West one reason to vote for you what would it be?

MD: My one reason would always be because of the party I represent. Because I would be the Labour candidate. Because of the awful level of cuts we are going face in the next five years people in my constituency need the protection of a Labour government.

NM: My personal record to now.

CaT: I can offer something different. I am a young person who knows what it’s like to live and work in this city. I may be young but I have lots of experience. I have been self-employed and been a school governor.  

Is there an area of policy you are particularly interested in?

MD: As the Health Minister I would have say health.

NM: Economic development, education and the family area.

CaT: Education is something that is important to me. Education is the great mover.

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