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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
More 'listening' needed, says AM
Peter Black AM
Peter Black believes Lib Dem politicians should get out more
A Liberal Democrat AM has urged his party to make it clearer to people in Wales what the party stands for.

The Lib Dems failed to increase their number of AMs at the Welsh assembly election and party splits prevented them entering a coalition government.

In a pamphlet on the website Liberal Democrat Voice, Peter Black said AMs and MPs needed to campaign and listen more to improve election performance.

A party leadership spokesperson said it was happy to encourage debate.

Mr Black was one of the first to argue against joining a coalition after the election and called for party assembly group leader Mike German to be replaced.

Our elected parliamentarians and assembly members should be taking a lead, getting onto the streets
Peter Black AM

In the pamphlet, Mr Black offers his analysis of the shortcomings of the party's election campaign.

He said the Welsh Lib Dems had a "failure to connect with voters", "failed to make it clear to them what it means to be a Lib Dem" and did not present policies "clearly or effectively".

Accusing the party of "mistaking our activity in the hallowed corners of the assembly for campaigning", Mr Black said the Lib Dems could "learn a lot" from Plaid Cymru.

"Our elected parliamentarians and assembly members should be taking a lead, getting onto the streets with other activists to talk and listen to people about their concerns and ideas."

Mr Black, who speaks for the party on social justice, said weaknesses in the One Wales document, which forms the basis of the Labour-Plaid assembly government, presented opportunities for Lib Dems.

'Healthy'

He accused the new Cardiff Bay coalition of relying on "gimmicks" such as free laptop computers for children and dodging important issues such nuclear power for "political expediency".

Mr Black suggested that, with six out of the 19 opposition AMs, the Lib Dems had far more opportunities to scrutinise and set the agenda in both the assembly and in the media.

The party should "refine a distinctive, dynamic and radical message" to have a wide appeal.

Mr Black, a South Wales West AM, has prepared a detailed policy prescription for the party's future.

High on his list are education and training, public transport and more emphasis on technologies such as tidal lagoons and micro-generation to protect the environment.

He said "a more open, transparent and accountable form a government" was needed to take sometimes "difficult decisions" on the future of key local services such as hospitals, schools and post offices.

Mr Black suggested the agenda be promoted in local government, with the party working to hang onto power in Bridgend, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham councils in elections next year.

A leadership spokesperson said it was happy to encourage debate about the party's future "because it is healthy".




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