Wednesday just gone was my political birthday - 29 years ago to the day, on 24th May 1988, I joined the political party that I still champion today - my receipt slip for the Stamford and Spalding constituency records me as a member of the Liberal Party, but I was clear I was joining the merged Social and Liberal Democrats.

It is a decision from 1988 that I still have no regrets over today.

Then I was living in Spalding, Lincolnshire and right now I'm sitting in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. The journey I realise is literally coast to coast with very many places in between. Then I was angry about fair votes, about civil liberties, angry at Labours failure, scared by Conservative dictator and inspired by The SDP/Liberal Alliance.

But right now my battle and my ambitions are more focussed - I want to get Mark Williams the outstanding MP for Ceredigion re-elected, I want to see the Conservative MPs for Brecon and Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire defeated by James Gibson-Watt and Jane Dodds and Eluned Parrott elected to represent Cardiff Central and back into a legislative chamber.

So why am I writing? basically I believe that we are fighting the election of our lives. In the tone and tenor of this campaign I smell the outcomes of the 1983 and 1992 election. In 1992 I realise Geraint Howells was defeated in a shock result - we, and I mean we, need to make sure that doesn't happen this time.

I urge you, beg you, advise you, ask you, plead with you to help with these campaigns - we need foot soldiers, deliverers, canvassers, donations and more. I am based in the Aberystwyth Liberal Association Offices and am asking you to come, contact and help: Ed Fordham, c/o 32 North Parade, Aberystwyth, SY23 2NF.

And thank you, I know we all have elections - but right now, this is about the future of liberalism in Wales and I am calling in all favours and asking you to ensure that we have a good, strong and celebratory night on Thursday 8th June.

See you soon I hope,

Ed Fordham
Liberal Democrat Election Co-ordinator for Mid, North and West Wales.

 

So 24 hours at home (in fact as I type this I realise it was in fact 19 hours) and I'm back on the train dashing back to Cambria - Wales, Ceredigion, Aberystwyth.

And as I leap on the train - mid conversation to the team my husband gesticulates furiously drawing me to the doors.  "The seat you have grabbed," he whispers, "its next to Quentin Letts."  Mercifully and timely the countryside of Cheshire intervenes to cut off my conversation and I return to my seat more aware and more guarded now.

The calm before the storm... perhaps an over-used phrase, but I'm sitting here in the Liberal Democrat HQ in Aberystwyth and it is very quiet.  The light is dropping fast, the shops are closing and even students are drifting homewards - the pub will wait until the weekend.

But tomorrow the people of Wales will go to the polls in the local elections.  In many respects, and in the views of lots of people, local government doesn't matter - but tomorrow could not be more important.  Who wins and who loses will set up and frame the result of the General Election on Thursday 8th June 2017.  Let me put it more clearly - the local elections are being used, even abused, as a means of accentuating the scale of Labour failure and bolstering the result of the Conservative Party.  Theresa May, advised by Lynton Crosby, has sidelined the debate on local services and local government in the interests of securing a larger mandate in her vision of elected dictatorship.

So what happened - the day after the night before the four weeks ahead - what really happened?  It's Friday May 5th 2017.  Yesterday was local election polling day.

Labour have slumped into the ground - they can still win elections, but they risk becoming a faction, but their meltdown, that was talked of, did not happen.  Thy lost but will and can over a long period of time, recover.  The swathe of 100+ UKIP councillors have been wiped out, but their vote has been assimilated, collected, harvested, vacuumed up by the Tories who emerged as the biggest winners in the night.

So here I am in the Ceredigion Liberal Democrat offices - working above the shop, as it were, in one of the UK's nicest seaside towns: Aberystwyth. This is a place that has all the benefits of a seaside holiday resort without actually feeling like it. You have the crashing waves, the rolling surf, a medieval castle, strong soaring cliffs and small narrow busy streets. There are shops, cafe and restaurants galore and due to the University there is a youth, an optimism, a bustle that is genuine, sincere and doesn't feel cruelly seasonal or weather dependent.

And as you look around you also know that there is a rich seam of liberalism. Now when it comes to elections I'm not soft and try not to get carried away with optimism - I know that what has been hard won can be swept away - but here in Aberystwyth there is a determination and pride.