Over recent weeks Llanelli Online has been producing articles on the forthcoming local elections. We have been contacted by numerous candidates and we have interviewed some of them. We have also made an open attempt to gain access to all candidates from all parties. We have been sent items by some parties, some of which we have investigated. There has been an awful lot of mud slinging on social media however, quite often, this is unreliable material therefore we choose to continue to deal with a face to face approach as far as possible in order to verify claims.
We have attempted on numerous occasions to obtain comments from Plaid Cymru Llanelli’s campaign manager Sean Rees. We understand that he may be busy at this time. We have put several key questions to Sean giving ample opportunity for him to defend claims by Welsh Labour, which he says are biased reporting accusing Llanelli Online of running a one way politically biased news site.
We do not subscribe to this view and we object in the strongest terms to such claims. We have a track record of covering local and national elections and that clearly shows that we have given equitable coverage and equitable treatment to all parties. We have seen at first hand how some candidates make claims and accusations willy nilly including abuse towards other candidates and when exposed attempt to delete and cover their tracks. We spoke to three veteran political campaigners this weekend and they were also of the view that they had never witnessed such a ‘dirty’ election campaign in all of their years in standing for council.
We have asked Sean Rees repeatedly for his views and his reactions in relation to articles, which have been published here. He has he says decided to cease responding to our requests. What then followed was a number of posts to our social media page and website reiterating the claims of Sean Rees and then a number of reviews on our Facebook page rating it as 1 star. People are of course entitled to do that and we thank them for taking the effort.
What all political candidates and all political parties need to understand is that we live in a democracy and that we are all entitled to our views no matter how biased, how one sided and how political. We are all entitled to express indifference, an alternative, an opposition. These are the key elements, which set us apart from the blatant gerrymandering of the democratic process which we see in other countries. We are constantly reminded that men and women fought and fell in order to preserve our democracy and our right to vote.
Whilst Llanelli Online does not condone personal abusive attacks, we do believe that a robust and open exchange between candidates on local issues is something the people of Llanelli deserve. One only has to tune in to PM Questions to see how robust that debate can be. As a news site we too have to take criticism and we have to own up when we get things wrong. What is not helpful is when those who purport to be press officers take a very immature stance in refusing to respond to valid pertinent questions from the press. The doors at Llanelli Online are always open. It is hoped that common sense will prevail in relation to numerous points mentioned herein.