Ben Lake is the Plaid Cymru candidate for Ceredigion in the upcoming election on June 8th. He went to school in Lampeter, and has since graduated from Oxford University. Previous elections suggest he is the most likely candidate to be able to unseat Mark Williams, so it’s important to understand Ben Lake’s motives and beliefs.
Edit: Ben Lake was elected on June the 8th – he is therefore Ceredigion’s MP.
What inspired you to get into politics?
I have always had an interest in politics, but I decided to stand for election for two reasons. The first is that I have become increasingly disappointed at the way UK politics has developed over the past few years. There no longer seems to be any desire for reasoned discussion, or to find ways of actually improving the day-to-day lives of people – instead we have petty political point scoring and a gradual but angry deterioration to the extremes. The second reason somewhat follows on from the first – that the needs of rural-areas like Ceredigion are forgotten in the midst of all the point scoring. When we consider how important the next few years will be for the future of Ceredigion, I want to make sure that we have a strong and energetic voice so that we are no longer ignored.
What 3 labels would you give to describe your political stances?
Patriot, Social Democrat, Pragmatist.
What is your vision for Ceredigion?
My long-term vision for Ceredigion is that of a flourishing and open society, with high-quality public services and opportunities for both young and old to build a prosperous life here. In order to realise this vision we need to make sure that we have a thriving rural economy as a foundation, and so ensuring that investment in infrastructure – including broadband and mobile – is distributed fairly across the country, and not concentrated solely in urban areas, will be crucial. We desperately need to pursue ways of developing the rural economy so that there are more opportunities, especially for young people, to live and work here if they so wish; to help existing businesses grow and to attract new ones to Ceredigion. If elected I will hold regular public meetings with different groups and ‘street surgeries’, in addition to conventional surgeries.
What are the 3 most important issues facing us?
One of the most pressing issues facing Ceredigion and the country is the outcome of forthcoming Brexit negotiations. Ceredigion, along with other rural areas of the country, cannot be forgotten during these negotiations, and a ‘Hard-Brexit’ would be particularly harmful for our rural economy and higher education sector. It’s crucial that Ceredigion is not forgotten during negotiations – any agreement must not mean Ceredigion losing out at the expense of other parts of the UK.
It will also be important, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations, to relentlessly challenge the continuation of a failed austerity experiment, and of unending Conservative cuts to public funding. Such austerity is failing to achieve the economic aims set by previous Conservative governments – something the outgoing Conservative government all but admitted as they changed the goalposts with regard to reducing the deficit and the national debt. As they tinker with their targets, our NHS, schools and infrastructure suffer from reduced funding. I would challenge the logic behind further cuts to public services, and make the case for much needed investment.
Another important issue that we currently face is a geographic imbalance in the levels of public expenditure – whether it is investment in health and education, or infrastructure. This has been a long-standing problem, so I would like to help implement a policy that sees public investment distributed fairly across the land to ensure that funding for public services and infrastructure is allocated in a way that minimises discrepancy in quality. At the end of the day everybody, whether they live in urban or rural areas, are expected to pay taxes, and so it isn’t right that the provision of public service should vary significantly in quality according to your postcode.
Why should people vote for you over Mark Williams?
We should not underestimate how important the next few years will be for Ceredigion, and how crucial it is that the Westminster Government is not given the chance to strike a Brexit deal that is contrary to our interests. To an extent this year’s general election is different from previous ones in that we are asked to elect an individual that will guarantee that we do not lose out as Brexit negotiations unfold. Having been born and raised in Ceredigion, I am aware of what’s at stake for our communities, and I have the energy and passion needed to make sure Ceredigion’s needs are not ignored at Westminster. I will work tirelessly as your MP to prevent our communities and economy being sacrificed by a bad Brexit deal, and to lay the foundations for a more prosperous economy that offers greater opportunities for our young people to live and work in Ceredigion.