Voting for a new Britain: `Assembly could be an awful failure'

Voters' Panel: Llandovery
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The Independent Online
David Butler, 35, Salesman.

Labour

"What are the Assembly's priorities? In rural Wales farming is top. I hope the Assembly can make a better job of handling the BSE crisis than the last two governments did."

Heather Harrison, 56, Tourist officer.

Undecided

"I'm not Welsh but everyone who lives in Wales should vote; I hope they will. I haven't made up my mind how to vote - I'll look at what's on offer."

Helen Worthington, 40, Craft-centre supervisor.

Plaid Cymru

"I expect to support whoever offers the best deal for the economy of rural areas like ours. In years gone by, most cash and attention has been directed to the big towns in South Wales and the industrial North-east."

Barrie Stone, 61,

Estate agent.

Conservative-leaning

"I'm all in favour of politicians who want to free up the markets and lift the burdens placed on business. In fact I'd like to see 90 per cent less government. But the Assembly looks like another tier."

Simon Sherrard, 59, Hotel owner.

Conservative

"It's jobs for the boys. Half the Welsh people didn't vote at all in the 1997 referendum. I voted `no' but even so I will vote next month. I think it's a bad thing to have the same party in office in London and Cardiff."

Roland Davies, 70, Retired teacher.

Undecided

"It could be very serious if there were moves to detach Wales from the rest of Britain. Separatism is not for us. The Assembly must commit itself to keeping Wales as part of the United Kingdom."

Cynthia Davies, 70, Wife of Roland Davies.

Undecided

"All the politicians say that they are anxious to foster the Welsh language and culture. That is a very important part of devolution and it must have priority."

Fr Nicholas Jenkins, 56, Priest.

Anything but Labour

"There is a paradox. The Assembly could be a very good thing for Wales, or it could turn out to be a dreadful failure. We don't want a repeat of all those old South Wales Labour Councils."

Janusz Norejko, 48, Farmer.

Will not vote

"There's not enough information coming out to tell people what the Assembly can do. The rural economy is in deep trouble. I think it [The Assembly] could be a waste of time."

Huw Lewis, 35, Builder.

Labour-leaning

"It seems like another world when you live in rural Wales, even though Cardiff isn't really that far away. If voters turn out strongly enough maybe the Assembly will pay attention to our problems."

Josephine Lewis, 34, Wife of Huw Lewis.

Labour-leaning

"I'm concerned that our sons get a good education. There's a split between English and Welsh language schools and ... children are divided up. That's one thing the Assembly should look at closely."

Billy Jones, 43, DIY shop owner.

Undecided

"I think we were better off before the Assembly came along. As far as I am concerned it doesn't seem to offer very much - judging by what little information there is about it. I dare say I'll vote."

Tony Heath

WITH JUST 15 days to polling day, enthusiasm has yet to break cover in Llandovery. The talk in this mid-Wales market town is more about rugby successes than the historic elections to the Welsh Assembly.

A close fight between Labour and Plaid Cymru is looming. A big Labour win would, paradoxically, undermine the chances of Alun Michael - Tony Blair's choice for First Minister - sliding in on the list from which 20 of the 60 Assembly members will be drawn.

A Plaid Cymru victory in the constituency would ensure his success from the "top-up" list, and because of this Mr Michael's opponents in the Labour Party have been out on the streets of Llandovery seeking to maximise the Labour vote.

The Independent interviewed voters, selected at random, and will return to Llandovery during the campaign.

Llandovery is one of the few towns in the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency. It is less than 90 minutes' drive from Cardiff, but has seen little of the government money that has been lavished on the M4 corridor and along the North Wales coast.

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