Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Randerson on Paddy, wine and Bond

Jenny Randerson
Jenny Randerson has been in the Welsh assembly since it was founded

Two candidates, Jenny Randerson and Kirsty Williams, are running for leadership of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

As both prepare for hustings across Wales, we ask them some of the questions they are likely to encounter on the road - and one or two they might not.

We start with Cardiff Central AM Ms Randerson, and later will publish the responses of her rival, the Brecon and Radnorshire AM.


What's your vision for Wales?

A fair and decent country, where the poverty gap and health inequalities are hugely reduced and where communities and people have a greater say about their lives within a strong, environmental economy with good jobs across the country.

What one change would you make to Wales if you were in power now?

I'd scrap the government's delivery programme and refocus it on core services. This is especially important during current economic hardship. I would also introduce robust auditing procedures for every penny of government spending. It's not the government's money, it's the people's. Government should have to explain every penny they spend.

Daniel Craig
Jenny enjoyed Daniel Craig's thrills and spills in Casino Royale

What difference does a woman leader make to a party?

I hope that it will encourage more women to get involved in politics and can sometimes lead to a calmer and more inclusive approach to leadership. But just being a woman is not enough, as Sarah Palin has demonstrated through her lack of experience and judgement.

Why has the party failed to get more than six AMs elected in three assembly elections in a row?

We must be bolder. Our last manifesto was too cautious. We just didn't get our message across. We are at our best when we are at our boldest and then seats will follow. We must also target constituency seats rather than list seats because it suits our campaigning style.

How would you define liberalism in 21st century Wales?

We are the only party arguing for less centralisation and more power for communities and individuals, as seen with NHS reconfiguration. We are the original community party. I regularly deliver leaflets and knock on doors. It's how you meet real people. Our party must stay connected to the people.

What is the biggest mistake you have made in your political career?

I should have lobbied harder for the rainbow coalition amongst the party executive. I spent so much time negotiating the deal that I had no time for phoning colleagues to boost support. There were several people who were undecided and I only needed to persuade one to change Welsh history.

JENNY RANDERSON
Jenny Randerson
Born: London
Age: 60
Previous occupation: teacher/lecturer
AM for: Cardiff Central
Supporters include: MPs Lembit Opik and Jenny Willott, Eleanor Burnham AM, Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman, Wrexham council leader Aled Roberts

How do voters see the Lib Dems and how can you change that?

Policy by policy, voters identify with us more than any other party, but we need to hone our message to make sure that becomes support for the party as a whole. We can do that by being bolder and making sure people realise we are on their side.

Do you and your family drive environmentally-friendly cars and have you ever felt irritated by the need to recycle?

My car is very fuel-efficient but we need to help everyone by encouraging production of cheaper, environmentally-friendly cars. I normally take the train for long journeys but that's not always possible in Wales. I've been recycling for over 25 years including home-composting. It's easy when you're a gardener.

Do you expect to ever become first minister?

I never expected to become deputy first minister, so now I set my sights high. I definitely expect to return to government, with more assembly members and more power to make a difference. I want to put Lib Dem policies into practice. You can only do that in government.

Which country could Wales learn most from and why?

Slovenia is a remarkable country. It has gone from Yugoslav communism to Western European standards of living in a short time. It's also comfortable with being a small country, working with others to strengthen its voice, what we need to do if we are to avoid the disaster of independence.

Who's the best prime minister we've never had?

Without doubt, Paddy Ashdown. Britain was at a turning point in 1997 and if Paddy, instead of Blair, had entered Downing Street then there would have been none of the bitter disappointment that many people feel now. He would have created a fair Britain in a safer world.

Do you have any private health plans or policies?

No.

Leadership campaigns cause inevitable rifts - how would you re-unite the assembly group?

Leadership thrives on uniting people. Serving nearly a year as the only Lib Dem in a Labour-dominated cabinet, I certainly learnt diplomacy. Listening to everyone is the key. Kirsty is a great talent and would unquestionably continue to play a huge part in our party if I become leader.

Ljubljana main square
Jenny Randerson says Wales has a thing or two to learn from Slovenia

What's been the toughest policy you've ever had to defend on the doorsteps?

Local income tax is hugely complex, but once it's explained people embrace it because it's fair. You have to argue passionately for your beliefs whether they're popular or not. We were abused over our opposition to the Iraq war for instance, but our position has been emphatically vindicated.

What's the worst job you've ever had?

I don't know about the worst but the hardest was as a domestic cleaner. It really taught me that many "unglamorous" jobs require great patience and skill and that the people who do them deserve more respect.

What's your favourite food and drink?

A curry and a glass of red wine enjoyed with friends. Simple pleasures.

What's your favourite non-news TV programme / film / books (fiction/non-fiction)?

Midsomer Murders is great. I really enjoyed Casino Royale, especially Daniel Craig! I am really looking forward to Quantum of Solace. Bill Bryson's books are all well written with great insight and humour.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Shoes and handbags! I love them and buy far more than I really need, although try to set myself strict limits.

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SEE ALSO
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07 Nov 08 |  Wales politics

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