Lisa Jane Davies – Welsh Liberal Democrats – Vale of Clwyd
All views on this page are from the candidate unedited.
Can you first tell you a little about who you are, any political history, about your political leanings and what skills you have to be a top level politician in Wales?
I am Lisa Davies. I come from a very ordinary working class background. I raised my children in social housing. I know what it is like to live in a deprived area, with inadequate public transport, and with people that have been overlooked because they didn’t do well in school or made poor life choices early in their lives.
I have always been a passionate campaigner for many issues. At the age of 9, I wrote to the Queen, begging her to stop testing on animals. I am also the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge after writing to them about the plight of the rainforests. This tendency did not stop when I got older. I am still very forthright about issues that I care about.
I have always been opinionated about political matters but I did not consider myself to be political until fairly recently. It was Brexit that caused me to join the Liberal Democrats. I was firmly planted in the remain camp as I wanted my children to have the opportunity to study and work in Europe – an opportunity that I had had and wasted. Joining was my little protest in the noisy war between ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
So why would I be a good top level politician in Wales? Because I am not a career politician. I have never led a privileged life. There was no silver spoon for me when I was growing up. I represent the people that most politicians talk about in public but prefer to ignore when the cameras stop rolling
I will strive for a better world. I want to see a fairer benefits system, more work opportunities, a working health service, a healthy environment, and thriving high streets in every town. But, more than anything, I want to see people given the opportunity to improve their ‘lot’ – no matter their colour, class or creed.
I will never stop fighting for you, and that is why you should vote for me.
Lisa Davies, Vale of Clwyd
1 – Aside from Covid and Covid recovery, what do you feel is the top issue for this constituency in the forthcoming parliament term, and briefly explain how you would like to see your desired outcome achieved ?
Covid had such a huge impact on all our lives that are impossible to ignore. The effects of Covid are going to be felt for many years, and the damage to our daily lives is so deep that a superficial ‘band aid’ solution will not work.
Our slogan is ‘Putting Recovery first” and our manifesto has been designed to not only bring this nation back to our pre-covid status but to thrive
We will support our National Health Service by boosting pay for health professionals and carers, by clearing the backlog of treatments that were put on hold due to the pandemic, and improving mental health services by offering a 24 hour service.
Liberal Democrats plan to invest £500 million over five years to a Welsh Town Fund. Many towns in the Vale of Clwyd will benefit from this investment. It would mean more support for small businesses and reviving our high streets.
I’ve been listening to the people of the Vale of Clwyd and I have found that many feel that local people are overlooked in favour of tourists. In our drive to support business and get money flowing in the area again, I promise that I will work hard to redress the balance and ensure that the needs of local people are put first.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
Our Welsh Town Fund will be used to help our small businesses and high streets thrive, and that, in turn, should naturally propagate more work opportunities for local people. We also want to introduce a package of measures to support businesses. This package will include a ‘breathing space’ for businesses by freezing business rates for 5 years. This will give businesses a chance to find their feet again.
We are concentrating on improving mental health services and are proposing the creation of multi-disciplinary clinics for the assessment, testing, diagnosis and care of long-term COVID-19 patients. I want people to succeed in their goals and live happy lives, and I know that is extremely hard to do when you suffer with ill health.
3 – The pandemic has highlighted to many for the first time the powers that the Senedd have under devolution. How has the pandemic changed your views of devolution?
I think before the pandemic that many people saw the Welsh Government as an extra layer of unneeded bureaucracy. As covid spread through the country, we realised it has the power to protect people living in Wales.
It has reinforced my view that we need more devolution. Local authorities know what the people in their regions need and so should be trusted with more power to provide the services that are required.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
I am very proud that the Welsh Government was able to act independently from England. However, my personal opinion is that some of the restrictions imposed on us were more to do with showing that we have devolved powers rather than a systematic approach to the problem. We were more proactive than England but it was too little too late. Of course, it is very easy to say these things in hindsight. Very difficult decisions had to be made.
5 – Would you support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales? How would you vote in such a referendum and why?
Although I support more devolved powers from central government to local authorities, I do not support total independence for Wales.
Areas such as the Vale of Clwyd have very close links with North West England. Many people living in the area work across the border, and vice versa. Sick and injured children from North Wales often have to go to Alder Hey in Liverpool for treatment as there are no hospitals that can cater for their needs in our region. It makes no sense to have a hard border as it would only make life more complicated and possibly more expensive. I would definitely vote no.
6 – What actions would you take, or support, as a MS to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
I love the Welsh language. I am not a fluent speaker but I am a very proud learner. I would encourage the use of the Welsh Language by finding ways to subsidise Welsh language courses. I moved to North Wales 20 years ago and I always wanted to learn the language but found it was difficult to find an affordable course that I could fit into my life. During the pandemic, a lot of language learning courses became available online the first time. I was finally able to start learning Welsh. However, these courses are still unaffordable to many. I would like to change this.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
The phrase ‘climate emergency’ breaks my heart. I was a bit of a campaigner for the climate as a child. We knew that we were damaging the environment back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I can’t believe that more hasn’t been done sooner. It is an emergency, but it isn’t just the ‘man in the street’. Big businesses need to be accountable too. We need to overhaul our current business values and ensure that we work in the most energy efficient and environment friendly way possible.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are pledging an ambitious annual £1 billion investment to tackle climate change. This investment will mostly be used to provide sustainable and renewable energy sources, which has the added benefit of providing more jobs. All of this can be done without raising taxes.
8 – There can be a perception that politicians are too “South Wales focused” and can see a north south divide. Do you think this is the case, and realistically if elected which of your North Wales specific goals do you think you can deliver?
I have a good friend that comes from South Wales. He told me that he didn’t believe that there was a divide in Wales until he moved to North Wales. The vast difference in government spending shocked him. So yes, I do believe that there is a divide.
This is why I believe in devolving some of the powers in Cardiff to local authorities.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
I support the idea of an LGBTQ+ plan in Wales as I believe that every individual should be valued for the person they are.
10 – Children and young people have missed almost a full year of regular education – what are your plans to make sure that children who have missed out on academic and social experiences are not left at a disadvantage in the next few years?
We want to continue funding to give our poorest pupils the same opportunities as their peers, from helping to cover the cost of school uniforms and sports kits, to supporting trips and IT equipment. In addition, we will promote more inclusive school environments to ensure that all children can engage with their learning and receive appropriate support.
We will continue targeted financial investment to support our learners: we plan to extend provision of Free School Meals during the school holidays beyond the pandemic and to invest in programmes which tackle holiday hunger, isolation, and exclusion.
11 – Local services such as libraries, leisure centres and community centres have been badly affected in recent years due to lack of funding – how would you support local authorities?
As a councillor, I can see how much local authorities are struggling to allocate money to services such as libraries and community centres. The only solution I can see is the Welsh government giving a better funding package to local authorities. At the moment, the formula that decides how much government cash is given to each local authority is out of date. It unfairly penalises areas such as the Vale of Clwyd. I would really like to see the current system reformed or replaced.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to replace our large county boroughs with a number of smaller councils. These will provide local governance to their immediate communities and add more accountability and autonomy. I believe that local services should be controlled by local people.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
My own personal view is that the health boards are so big that they can’t possibly operate effectively. Our region forms part of the Betsi Cadwaladr health board.It covers the whole of North Wales and parts of Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire. It is simply not feasible that the leadership can have a good knowledge of the problems that their staff and patients face in every area. This lack of knowledge leads to ill informed decisions about funding and finance, and that ultimately results in a patchy health care service.
I’d like to see the management of Betsi Cadwaladr decentralised and replaced with a system where individual health centres are able to make key decisions about their finances and future.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
I don’t think there has been a worse time to look for a job. The pandemic has caused a lot of businesses to close or to take drastic measures such as staff cuts to get by. Meanwhile, job seekers on Universal Credit have been harassed by fortnightly phone calls from DWP staff threatening to reduce or stop their money if they cannot provide evidence that they have been searching for work.
Our Welsh Town Fund will provide £100 million every year towards the High Street and small businesses. This will create more jobs and work opportunities. Not only that, Welsh liberal democrats are also pledging £5 billion towards creating sources of renewable energy. I shall work hard to ensure that the Vale of Clwyd gets their fair share. Not only are we helping to save the planet but we will be providing employment and job security for local people.
14 Do you think business rates control should be devolved entirely to local authorities, or run fully from Cardiff or Westminster and why?
I think you will probably know the answer to this from my answers to the other questions! I believe that business rates should be devolved to local authorities. Local authorities know the business needs and the people in their areas, and are naturally better placed to make decisions about what is best for them.
I also think that people feel happier paying rates when they know where the money is going, and feel reassured that their hard earned money will be used to improve their surroundings.
15 How would universal basic income be paid for, and can you give an overview of the costing for roll out in Wales?
We believe that the current benefits system is a failure. I’ve seen the results of it first hand. I personally know families that have resorted to using food banks because they have been hit by sanctions on their Universal Credit.
At the moment, we are looking at working with the UK government to pilot a nation-wide Universal Basic Income. In the short term we’d create a coherent ‘Welsh Benefits System’ to bring together existing funds and devolved benefits.
We are not proposing that Welsh Government fund a Basic Income. We have a UK Social Security system and the UK Government has to wake up and realise that the status quo is not only not working, but it’s damaging people’s lives. Wales would be a pilot for roll out across the UK in the years ahead. There are opportunities in Wales however to create a Citizens’ Wealth Fund – through investment in renewables – which could fund a UBI in the long-term.
16 When Kirsty Williams joined the Welsh Labour led Cabinet she was accused of being ‘elastic in her principles’, is a vote for Welsh Liberal Democrats going to enable Welsh Labour again?
Kirsty Williams is quite simply the best education minister we’ve ever had. Politics is about the art of the possible, and by accepting a ministerial post, Kirsty was able to push through a large part of theLib Dem education manifesto.
This includes the new Welsh curriculum, which is being viewed as a model for how schools should be run by education experts all over the world. And in her last act as education minister she secured over £60M of funding so that Welsh students can continue to study abroad on the same terms that they could under the European ERASMUS scheme, which the Conservative UK government scrapped after Brexit.
If you vote for the Welsh Lib Dems, we will work with the party that helps us to get our party policies put into effect, without sacrificing our principles. Kirsty’s record over the last five years is proof of that.
17 What policy from your party’s manifesto are you most proud of?
I am proud of our manifesto as a whole. I love the fact that we, as Liberal Democrats, strive for equality and opportunities for everybody. I think our manifesto offers Wales a chance to shine after the chaos of Covid and Brexit.
18 – If you change political allegiance from what you are currently seeking election for (eg. resigning from, or joining another party or group) will you trigger a by-election? If not, why not?
This would never happen. I am very proud of my party. I am certainly not interested in switching sides for personal gain.
19 – At the time of writing where has the top three sources of funding for your campaign come from, and are there any funding sources you feel would be relevant to voters to know about?
All of my funding has come from the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are funded by the generosity of members and supporters. We aren’t in the pockets of any big donors!
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
I care about our local communities. I care about the “man on the street”. I am a very real person with a humble background. I have seen the problems that many face firsthand. I will listen to you and will fight for what is right for the Vale of Clwyd.