Politics and People

First published Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There have been two relatively notable events in Pembrokeshire today, at least by local standards. First up, the local weekly newspaper, The Western Telegraph, has led with a series of reports on the County Council meeting that took place last Friday – a meeting that has already become something of discussion point amongst various sectors of the local community. The story continues to escalate with Welsh Assembly Members for the area beginning to comment publicly on the current situation, as noted on the BBC Wales News website. No doubt there will be more revelations, disclosures and comment in the coming weeks.

The second headline for the county today has been the visit of David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, as part of his tour of flood hit Britain. It would seem that there was very little pre-publicity of this visit, as had there been an opportunity to influence the agenda for the day, I suspect there would have been calls for him to visit not just Newgale and and the City of St Davids, but also Amroth in the south of the county. There are of course a significant number of businesses in Pembrokeshire who have been badly affected by the recent spate of bad weather, and whilst there are many workers ‘on the ground’ doing all they can to assist businesses in their recovery, there remain a number of unanswered questions about the direction being given in certain areas, and how long repair works are likely to take, particularly where temporary repairs were left without any kind of sea defence last weekend, resulting in the further collapse of the road through Amroth village.

What stands out in both situations, in my opinion at least, is an apparent remoteness or distance from the ordinary folk on the ground. Whilst the lead story in the Western Telegraph involves a person not elected by the voters of Pembrokeshire, the people involved outside of that individual are in the main elected representatives of the population. David Cameron, again an elected representative is making a whistle stop tour around Britain, dropping in on those affected by a combination of extreme weather, and to an extent a lack of funding in adequate flood defences.

I am not discussing a preference for any particular party here, nor my personal views on those involved in these headlines today. There will never be a ‘one size fits all’ solution or complete agreement, and rightly so – good decisions are made when issues are able to be discussed openly, differences of opinion aired and debated. What has to happen however is that the voice of the people is heard, acknowledged and taken in to consideration. It would appear that increasingly this is not happening, people are beginning to feel increasingly isolated from those in power, in positions of responsibility, in ‘charge’. The rise in popularity of political parties such as UKIP suggests that voters are not happy with the more established parties, feeling somewhat disenchanted by them.

Politicians, and the political discussions and decisions surely should be about serving the people – delivering on promises to provide improvements to the overall economic landscape of the nation, the health and welfare of the residents, the education of their children. Recent revelations at all levels of government seem to indicate that at times, these things feature somewhat further down the priority list than perhaps they should.

The future is yet to be determined, and certainly here in Wales there will be a host of changes in coming years following the publication of the Williams Commission Report in January 2014. There is a reduced tolerance of political manoeuvring and posturing as the effect of budget cuts really start to bite – the tax payer is tiring of wasted cash and opportunities, and definitely fed up of excuses and broken promises. As elections begin to creep up on the horizon, no doubt there will be a whole host of promises made, statements on policy plans issued. This time round, perhaps the politicians, chosen by the people, need to pay just a little more attention?

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