Jason Edwards selected for Aberconwy with a cracking speech

Jason Edwards with Aberconwy Liberal Democrats
News of a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) being selected in north Wales: Jason Edwards in Aberconwy. And what a selection speech he gave. It’s one of the best I’ve come across.

First a little bit of background. As he told members during the selection:

After working for 14 years at Bangor University, my career path has presented me with countless opportunities to serve the communities in which we live, but also to serve other communities that do not necessarily have the ability to fight for themselves. Over the past 12 years, I have served as

  • a development officer for both CVSC (Community & Voluntary Support Conwy) and Community Transport Association Wales
  • a chief officer of a community transport charity
  • an IT educator for people with complex needs
  • a trustee of two local registered charities
  • a consultant to Welsh Government on charitable trading and social enterprise

Currently, I am a self-employed photographer, working throughout the UK, and I also run photography workshops and training. I am also subcontracted to deliver
specialised IT training on behalf of the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions). I am a regular volunteer for three charities in the locality and am also a director of a local community interest company that offers training and employment opportunities in the digital media sector.

Without a doubt, the EU referendum was my political awakening. I have always held defined political views throughout my life (sometimes radical but always liberal) but had never considered joining a political party. So a month prior to the referendum, I became a proud member of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Here’s part of what he had to say in that brilliant selection speech:

I never wanted to be a politician. The fact is, I shouldn’t have to be in this position now. Everything should just work. But it doesn’t…

The fact of the matter is, I’m sick of being pushed about. I’m sick of the liars, the cheats, the hate, the divisiveness, the intolerance, I’m sick of it all. I’m sick of career politicians who are only in it for the money and the glory. I’m sick of the fact that nobody stands up to these bullies and says “no more”. I’m sick of the fact that, as always, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. My wife and I, as I suspect quite a few of you are, are only three pay packets away from living on the streets. I’ll put money of the fact that I’ll never be three pay packets away from being a millionaire.

As your candidate, know one thing about me – I was born for the fight. I refuse to let anybody push me around, and nor will I allow anybody else to be pushed about either. Our communities are fractured; our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours fearful of each other. The political narrative of this country only serves to divide us even more – you’re either on the left or the right, there can be no other option.

By default, the vast majority of us are politically moderate but are made to feel more and more politically homeless as May and Corbyn play political football with our very futures. They only serve their own personal agendas, not the very communities they were entrusted to help, to fix, to support, to cure, to bring equality to. It’s difficult being a moderate, a liberal. We see the poverty and the injustice in our communities but we also recognise that we cannot also penalise those that drag themselves up and make something of their lives. We all have to shoulder the responsibility of righting the wrongs we see every day but I know it’s difficult, and for most of us, we just don’t know where to start; let’s be honest, it’s an overwhelming proposition.

The fact that you’re all here means that, for me, I know I’m not alone and that I’m on the right path. As Welsh Liberal Democrats, we have a very proud and longstanding presence within our communities; indeed, we’re Wales’ oldest political party. We fight for unity where others plot society’s division, we
fight for equality where others feast on unfairness, we fight for tolerance where others sow seeds of prejudice at every opportunity. But we fight.

I’ve used the word “fight” a few times so far, and there’s a very good reason for that. As a party here in Wales, we have no MPs and only one Assembly Member. This must be rectified. We need to introduce more balance into the political system and to do that, we need to fight; nobody is going to do this for us. We need to stand up and be counted, we need to shout “We’re here and we’re not going away”, we need people to turn around and realise that there is a party that will push back against the insidiousness of our current two-party political system…

When I first gave consideration as to whether I wanted to put my name forward as Aberconwy’s prospective parliamentary candidate, I had some reservations. After all, who the hell do I think I am with these delusions of grandeur? I’m just a normal bloke, living an average life. On the other hand, I’ve also led a life, I’ve had fun, I’ve picked up a few scars along the way. After all, isn’t the political game strictly for the holier-than-thou? That’s definitely not me. I’m human. I’m normal. Nobody will want to listen to what I’ve got to say. But then, if I don’t stick my head above the parapet, am I not betraying everything I believe in?

If I’m going to be completely honest with you, even though I have received support from many members within the Aberconwy, and indeed the Welsh party, my primary motive for wanting to step up and give this amazing opportunity a go is sat there – my son. When I’m an old man in my rocking chair, I want to be able to say I gave it my all. I want to say that I fought for the right for my lad to live out his birthright as a citizen of Europe. I want to say that I had, however small, a part to play in reversing the environmental disaster we’re lurching towards. I want to say that I never sent anybody’s child to fight a war for oil. And what I want most of all is not to let him down. Or your kids and grandkids.

For me, there is no glamour in becoming your PPC, only a truck-load of hard work, sleepless nights and kissing babies.

They say that you can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if you have waited in the darkness. Ladies and gentlemen, I am not the sunrise. You are.

Diolch yn fawr.

There’s a full list of Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate selections so far here, and some starter advice for the newly selected here.

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