Apologies for the delay in releasing this profile. I have been travelling up and down the country in recent days and just haven’t found the time. Thanks for your patience, and here it is…
Mark Williams is the current Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion. He was elected with a slim majority of around 200 votes in 2005, taking the seat from the then Plaid Cymru MP, Simon Thomas. In 2010 following the so called “Clegg Mania” he won with an increased majority.
According to the Lib Dems website, Mark Williams was born in Hertford before coming to Aberystwyth University. After working for the party for a while both in Ceredigion and the House of Lords he became a primary school teacher, then moving on to become Ceredigion’s MP.
As a Lib Dem MP he became part of the Tory led coalition government in 2010 and has since had to defend his voting record in parliament. Unlike the majority of his colleagues in the party, Mr Williams voted against the rise in Tuition Fees. Something that many at the time argued that he had little choice in doing, since of course Ceredigion is home to two university campuses. At recent election hustings, Mr Williams has proudly declared himself a rebel, citing the tuition fees vote as a proud achievement. I decided to look into his voting record in more detail after seeing leaflets from other parties claiming that he was not in fact as rebellious as he was making out.
Though he did rebel on the tuition fees vote, Mr Williams actually voted with the government 97% of the time, meaning that he supported the Conservative party’s policies more than any other party over the last 5 years. (publicwhip.org.uk). It strikes me as a bit worrying that Ceredigion has never elected a Conservative MP to represent our views in parliament yet has had an MP over the last 10 years who has voted almost exclusively in favour of the Tories. In fairness to him, he was part of a coalition and will likely have been whipped into voting whichever way Nick Clegg told him. That is unfortunately how coalitions operate. But it is nonetheless important to note that the fact that the Lib Dems were very relaxed about agreeing with the Tories is probably the main reason why they have lost 75% of their support in Wales since 2010.
Moving on to his pledges for the next five years, Mark Williams has promised to reopen the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen rail link. Something that many parties seem to like talking about around election time. As much as we would all love to see that line be reopened it concerns me that this promise has been in every Lib Dem leaflet in living memory, yet with 10 years of a Lib Dem MP we have seen zero progress towards hitting that goal.
Mr Williams’ campaign manager, Cllr Elizabeth Evans, caused a stir recently when she endorsed the views of Peter Hain MP on twitter following the lies of the Cambrian News surrounding another candidate. She retweeted a post from Mr Hain calling on that candidate to resign and caused controversy when she refused to apologise for the tweet despite even the Cambrian News completely disowning the original story.
Like with every candidate profile, here is a list of the Lib Dem’s key pledges for the next 5 years. (Whether or not you trust them after the last 5 years is up to you).
- An extra £2.5 billion for England’s education budget
- Raising the personal allowance to £12,000
- Cutting the deficit by 2018
- Making renewable energy responsible for 33% of Britain’s electricity by 2020
- An extra £8 billion for England’s NHS
You can find the entire Lib Dem manifesto here.