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Friday, April 22, 2005

Fading candidate lashes out

The Labour campaign to hold onto Cardiff Central is fading away with its candidate, Jon Owen Jones, effectively being left to his own devices by headquarters the Western Mail reports today. They state that Labour insiders privately admit that they have all but written off Mr Owen Jones' chances of hanging on, and he is largely running his own campaign, which would not be happening if the party thought he had a realistic chance of holding the seat.

That does not seem to deter Mr. Owen Jones, who has come out fighting this morning with a stream of consciousness rant filled with largely inaccurate invective. He claims that the Liberal Democrats voted against Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. He is wrong. The Liberal Democrats in fact voted for the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. He also joins the far right wing parties in criticising the Liberal Democrats for allegedly wanting to pay benefits to failed asylum seekers.

What our manifesto actually says is that "we will work within the EU to develop common standards so that all EU countries take their fair share of refugees. We will also end asylum-seekers' dependence on benefits, allowing them to work so they can pay their own way and use their skills to benefit everyone." The benefits we are trying to protect are for the children of failed asylum seekers awaiting deportation. Taking these benefits away will mean many young children are separated from their parents and put into care, adding massively to the cost to the state. Would Mr. Owen Jones would rather see these children begging on the streets?

Finally, he criticises our opposition to ID cards by claiming that they will ensure that state benefits will only go to people who are entitled to them. There is no evidence of course that ID cards will even be effective in achieving this, but if Mr. Owen Jones is insisting that they act as a passport for people to access public services then he is more off-the-wall than I had suspected. Such a policy will rapidly lead to a situation whereby the card is voluntary for most of the articulate middle classes and compulsory for those who use public services and/or cannot argue and resist the need for the card. If Mr. Owen Jones is prepared to advocate such social injustice then the sooner he is an ex-MP the better.
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