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Tory candidate did not attend Palestine hustings because of ‘tension’ fears

General election candidates for Ceredigion Preseli are, from left: Jackie Jones (Welsh Labour); Mark Williams (Liberal Democrat); Aled Thomas (Conservative); Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru); Tomos Barlow (Green Party); Taghrid Al-Mawed (Workers Party of Britain); Karl Robert Pollard (reform UK)

THE CONSERVATIVE general election candidate for Ceredigion Preseli didn’t attend a Palestine support group-organised general elections hustings because he felt it would “only cause unnecessary tension”.

Ceredigion Palestine Solidarity Campaign, with Heddwch Ar Waith, had organised the June 25 hustings to take place at Cardigan Guildhall, but only four of Ceredigion Preseli’s seven candidates offered to attend, and just two were able to do so on the day, leading to it being cancelled.

The organisers had said: “This General Election has been called at a moment when Palestinians are confronting the darkest moment in their struggle for liberation. Climate concerns, war in Europe, and the more than 100 armed conflicts across the world further endanger global stability and our economy.

“These are core electoral concerns for many Ceredigion Preseli constituents.

“This hustings is an opportunity for you to put your questions on these core issues to our General Election candidates.”

With a July 4 date set for the general election, candidates for the new Ceredigion Preseli seat are: Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, Conservative Aled Thomas, Tomos Barlow for the Green Party, Karl Robert Pollard for Reform UK, and Taghrid Al-Mawed for the Workers Party of Britain.

The hustings, saw just four of the seven confirmed candidates agreeing to attend: Taghrid Al-Mawed, Ben Lake, Tomos Barlow, and Mark Williams.

On the eve of the meeting, this was reduced down to Mr Barlow and Mr Lake, with the other two candidates unable to attend, for work and health reasons, leading to it being cancelled at the eleventh hour.

Aled Thomas, Conservative candidate (Pic: Aled Thomas)

The Conservative candidate for Ceredigion Preseli, Aled Thomas, who is also a Pembrokeshire county councillor and a JP, said he had sent an email to the organisers stating why he wouldn’t attend the hustings.

“I had hoped to attend your hustings, however, after careful consideration and discussion I am afraid I will have to decline on this occasion.

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“I know that your hustings will have a Justice and Peace theme and, unfortunately, I will not be able to contribute to many parts of the evening due to myself being appointed a Justice of the Peace (Ynad Heddwch) by the Judicial office and the Monarchy and I am bound to not comment on issues which pertain to Justice.

“Additionally, I have had a torrent of abuse at other events when the Palestine/Israel conflict has been discussed and I feel my presence would only cause unnecessary tension and I do not want to retract from your event’s organisation.

“I am happy to provide a written statement for you to read out on the evening and/or meet with you personally during the remainder of the campaign.”

A spokesman for Labour candidate Jackie Jones said: “Jackie sent her apologies as was otherwise engaged, as did other candidates.”

Dinah Mulholland, chair of Ceredigion Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a former Labour general election candidate herself, has previously said: “The whole issue of Palestine has been completely wiped off the news during the election; nearly all the candidates are avoiding the issue,” adding: “Local democracy has been undermined over this.”

She added: “I really would’ve liked to have done something, even if it was recorded answers with the candidates.”