We can do better than this

Speech delivered at the declaration of the Llanelli constituency on May 6th 2016

I was born and raised in this constituency, and I cannot tell you how proud I am to have been chosen by the people of my community to represent them in our National Assembly. I promise to do my very best, and to be true to myself.

I’ve had some incredibly frustrating conversations over the last six months on the doorsteps of this constituency. Too many people have given up. Too many people want to talk about what we’ve lost in the last 30 years, and not enough want to set their minds to what we can do about it in the next 30 years. That’s what I want to try and change.

I don’t have a magic wand. But I do have an intolerance for mediocrity. We can do better. But only if we demand more of ourselves. And only if we work together.

I know there is genius in this constituency, and there is passion. Let’s harness it. Lets come together and focus on what we can agree on, not on what we disagree on.

I must thank the returning officer, and all the people who have made today and tonight possible - including, of course,the police. We, rightly, take democracy for granted, but it is an extraordinary thing. And it relies on people standing up to be counted. I’d like to pay tribute to my fellow candidates. Standing for election is tough. But we have all given the people of Llanelli a choice. And we can be proud of that.

I’d like to pay particular tribute to Helen Mary Jones. She had represented the Llanelli constituency over many years. I said at the start of the campaign I like and respect her and I'm pleased to say at the end of the campaign I can say the same and I look forward to joining her in the campaign to keep Wales within the European Union.

I thought long and hard before standing. I only did it because I believe that unless people who feel that Wales can be better, stand up and be counted, we’ll never do better.

But I hesitated because I’m conscious of the impact that this all consuming mission has on those around you. My family is more important to me than politics. I have kept them away from the campaign but I am only able to stand here because of their support. Behind the scenes my 7 year old daugher has stuffed envelopes; my 11 year old son has encouraged me, and my mother has been my most energetic campaigner from the beginning.

My greatest support though has come from my wife. She has supported me throughout, and has given me the strength to keep going. She loves me and wants me to do my bit. And my greatest thanks tonight go to her.

I owe enormous thanks to the volunteers of the Llanelli Labour Party. We have run an energetic, passionate campaign, which has demonstrated beyond doubt that it can never be said again that Labour takes Llanelli for granted.

There are too many volunteers to mention - but every one of them has my heartfelt gratitude. My particular thanks must go to my agent, Chris Beer, and to Nia Griffith. Llanelli has an incredibly hard working,and dedicated MP and I’ve been lucky to have her by my side over the last six months.

I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Keith Davies who has been a dedicated AM for Llanelli over the last 5 years. And I’d like to thank him for his personal support. And to our other former AM Cathryn Thomas who has been a frequent campaigning companion, and source of much wisdom and encouragement.

The next 5 years will be vital ones for Wales. And, I hope, the beginning of a better era for Llanelli.

Whatever the results from the rest of our country in the next few hours, it is clear that all members of our National Assembly must co-operate for the good of the people we have been elected tonight to represent.

Let us embrace that challenge with enthusiasm, not reluctance. There is more that unites us than divides us, so let us find a unity of purpose. And work, Together for Wales.


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