Monday, 21 December 2015

A time for reflection

This column was published in the Llanelli Herald on 18 December 

Christmas is a time for reflection. And for me, a much needed time to try and switch off and enjoy time with my family.

The last few months have been relentless. As well as doing a full time (and full-on job) I’ve run for selection as Labour’s candidate for next May’s Assembly election, and since late September have thrown myself into campaigning.

Although I’ve been involved in politics at a number of levels over many years I’ve never been a candidate before. Having worked for a Cabinet Minister, and then covered politics as a Political Correspondent for ITV Wales, there’s not much about political life that surprises me. But being a candidate is different.

It is weird seeing your face on leaflets, not to mention knocking on the doors of strangers on Saturday morning’s - interrupting the flow of their lives, unconnected with party politics - to ask them for their support. I’m adjusting to it all pretty quickly, but it’s not how I’m used to spending Saturday mornings.

It also takes a level of self-belief and confidence that doesn’t come naturally. Who can honestly claim to have answers to all the bewildering range of complex problems that Llanelli faces? It’s those that do claim to know it all that worry me the most!

I have huge respect for people who put themselves forward for election. It is not for the faint-hearted, and of course, there is no guarantee of success.

In fact no Llanelli AM has yet to succeed in being elected - at each Assembly election the seat has swung back and fore between Labour and Plaid. And the opinion polls are again predicting a close contest.

For someone with a family, and a career, this is pretty unsettling prospect. I have to try and plan ahead for success and failure at the same time.  The only reason to put my family through it all is the belief that I’ll be able to make a contribution to the communities I grew up in. I’m sure all candidates feel the same.

Wales can do better. That’s my simple motivation for getting into politics.

I’ve had a series of jobs where I’ve been able to witness the Assembly up close. And although I am a passionate supporter of devolution, and I played a leading role in the last referendum as Vice-Chair of the cross-party Yes for Wales campaign, I believe we can do better.

After a rest over Christmas I’ll be re-energised to hit the campaign trail because I passionately believe we can use devolution to improve our communities and our country. But it won’t be easy and each of us have a responsibility to do our bit.

Lee Waters is the Welsh Labour Assembly candidate for Llanelli

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