UK Election 2019: BBC Wales Live Debate

Although BBC Wales Live will be hosting two debates before polling day, I’ve decided to only cover this one. There are two more UK-wide debates I’ll be covering over the next week as well.

You can watch last night’s debate on iPlayer – here.

The main topics were the same as the ITV Wales debate: Brexit, helping struggling families, climate change and trust in politics.

As usual, the participants are listed they sat from left to right.

Jane Dodds (Lib Dem): Candidate, Brecon & Radnorshire

How do we know you can deliver what you promised on Brexit? – The Lib Dems haven’t moved from Remain and believe staying in the EU is best for Wales; they’ll stop Brexit. She wants Wales and the UK to be “part of a bigger team”. Brexit can’t be delivered overnight and will drag on for years and years.

What would you do to help struggling families? – The Lib Dems could’ve done more to stand up to the Conservatives when in coalition, but 9 years later the fifth largest economy shouldn’t find itself in this state. Universal credit was supposed to be the benefit system of the future but it isn’t and things like zero-hour contracts shouldn’t exist.

What are your plans for stopping climate change? – It’s the most important issue we face and it’s not about politics or one party. We have to listen to and work with farmers and landowners and consider divesting in fossil fuels, while the Conservatives are approving new coal mines in Cumbria (David Davies contested this, saying it was approved by a Lib Dem council).

What will you do to restore trust in politics? – She’s been ashamed of some of the behaviour she’s seen in Parliament; parties have to work together more and if parties say they want to do something they should do it.

Verdict: 6/10 – Passionate if a little rambling; dodged questions around the likes of Jo Swinson’s involvement with the Coalition and we didn’t hear enough policy.

David TC Davies (Con): Candidate, Monmouth

How do we know you can deliver what you promised on Brexit? – All Tory candidates are signed up to deliver Boris Johnson’s deal, taking the UK out of the EU by the end of January 2020. No Deal is still on the table as well. You can’t bring the country together by telling 17million+ people that their view doesn’t count.

What would you do to help struggling families? – The percentage of people living in poverty hasn’t moved much over the last 10-15 years and the best way out of poverty is employment; we have some of the highest employment rates in years. Help should be targeted at those who need it most and Labour’s tax and spending plans won’t help at all, resulting in massive tax increases.

What are your plans for stopping climate change? – Nobody can argue against the fact mankind is affecting the climate. The UK produces around 1% of global emissions and while there are plans for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050 it has to be done without resulting in a mass loss of jobs. Nuclear will play a part in that.

What will you do to restore trust in politics? – We have to trust the people’s judgement. Politicians have a responsibility to think about the language they use. He though the “Fact Check UK” rebranding on Twitter was a case of “over-enthusiasm”.

Verdict: 7/10 – Still doing the stern headmaster thing, but offered clear answers even when put under pressure.

Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid): Candidate, Dwyfor Meirionnydd

How do we know you can deliver what you promised on Brexit? – The deal is Theresa May’s deal “with some of the good bits taken out” and Boris Johnson will tell you what you want to hear. Jeremy Corbyn’s neutral stance is baffling and is an abdication of duty, trying to be all things to all people. It had to go back to the people for a final say.

What would you do to help struggling families? – Wales is bottom of too many of the wrong league tables, but the real tragedy is that under Welsh Labour – although welfare isn’t devolved – 1 in 3 children live in poverty; a top-up allowance of £35-a-week could help lift families out of poverty.

What are your plans for stopping climate change? – Plaid are proposing a Welsh Green Jobs Revolution and support projects like the Swansea tidal lagoon. There are some things only the UK Government can do, with Labour proposing £100billion of such spending in Scotland but nothing for Wales. Nuclear has to be on the table too, but at no new sites in Wales.

What will you do to restore trust in politics? – People are fed-up with the personality-driven slogan type politics. We have to do things like citizens’ assemblies and votes at 16 as politics is ultimately about how we live together.

Verdict: 8/10 – Perhaps the only pannelist who comprehensively answered all of the questions.

James Wells MEP (BXP): Candidate, Islwyn

How do we know you can deliver what you promised on Brexit? – Wales voted Leave and that decision has been frustrated by Parliament. He’s “not a career politician” and got into it because of what’s happened in Westminster. Boris Johnson has broken several promises already; do we trust him? Despite this, Brexit Party MPs will help get a deal through Parliament.

What would you do to help struggling families? – Universal credit has been a disaster and the Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves. Payment periods should be shorter and there needs to be a 12-month review of the system. He didn’t accept a No Deal Brexit would impact poverty, but accepted there would be an “economic adjustment” – though he didn’t have a figure.

What are your plans for stopping climate change? – Science proves there’s a problem and there are associated problems like ocean plastics. He believes in a man-made climate change, if other Brexit Party figures don’t. There has to be a global reforestation effort led by the UN.

What will you do to restore trust in politics? – There’ve been incidents which have damaged trust like the MP expenses scandal. He wants to see reform of the voting system and abolition of the House of Lords, as well as forcing MPs who cross the floor to join another party to face an election (Brexit Party AMs are exempt as it’s impossible to hold by-elections for regional list members in the Senedd).

Verdict: 6/10 – A bit bland and over-reliant on notes, contradicted himself on occasion too, but seems to have his head firmly screwed on unlike the likes of Nathan Gill.

Nia Griffith (Lab): Candidate, Llanelli

How do we know you can deliver what you promised on Brexit? – We must think carefully about it. The deal Boris Johnson negotiated is bad and he didn’t even want MPs to scrutinise it properly. Labour will renegotiate a better deal within 3 months and put it back to the public in a second referendum within 6 months – it doesn’t matter what Jeremy Corbyn’s position is if the people ultimately decide.

What would you do to help struggling families? – Society and wealth needs to be rebalanced, including a living wage of £10-per-hour from age 16, reform of universal credit to cut the delay to payments and boosting economic growth by improving chances for young people.

What are your plans for stopping climate change? – Labour has a “clear and bold” plan to tackle climate change after several negative Tory policies. We need to use what natural resources we have to generate renewable energy for industry, transport and domestic use.

What will you do to restore trust in politics? – Labour has delivered on all of its promises between 2011-2016 in the Senedd and is on track to deliver between 2016-2021 too. The Brexit Party, by comparison, has no track record in government. She agreed that Labour should apologise for antisemitism.

Verdict: 6/10 – More than a bit wooden, but got through it. Gets an extra point for being upfront on antisemitism.

Conclusions

We heard a bit more than the ITV Wales debate in terms of policy, perhaps because the manifestos are out, but it was all squeezed by comments from the audience – which were a mixed bag; some good, some a bit Question Time.

The audience were played to a bit too often for my liking and if it were kept to a minimum, we might’ve heard more from the candidates instead of them being forced to cram everything into as short a time as possible before Jason Mohammad moved to the next audience hot take.

While it was fairly even last time around, Liz Saville Roberts was clearly the best performer overall in my opinion. Will any of these debates make a difference? Probably not.

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