Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adios Jacqui Gasson (For now)

Logo of the Social and Liberal Democrats
Logo of the Social and Liberal Democrats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don't think that anyone would think in the recent local elections, that veteran Caerau councillor Jacqui Gasson would be chucked out of office they the way she was, except apparently for herself (as she herself said at count) , she mentioned that the”unpopularity of the coalition had done her in”.

I have known her on and off since 1985 when I had joined the Welsh Liberal party and she was active in the Cardiff West SDP which consisted of a lot of Radyr labour people including Marian Drake and her husband Geoff. she lived in Caerau and was known in the community as a hard working social activist. There were a group of us in Caerau who formed the nuleus of the SDP/Liberal alliance.

Jacqui had started a Focus style leaflet (Community politics a la Tony Greaves) which she called “Contact”, which dealt with local issues and neglect by the then Labour councillors Bill Carling (Bill was local a postman and at least was visible he had been councillor for 30 years had been a Lord Mayor and chairman of the housing committee) his partner was Llandaff lawyer David Seligman who was quite invisible and was hoping to be Cardiff West’s MP succeeding George Thomas (the former Speaker of the Commons), his political career came to a crash when a strong SDP challenge by Jeffrey Thomas let the Tory Stefan Telezki in. The Contact team consisted of myself, Roger Burley, Jane Williams (Labour again) Wyn James, Pat and Keith Gemson (sic)

Her first campaign was for Cardiff City council elections in 1987 which saw the Alliance grow from 3 to 12 seats turning Cardiff into a NOP authority for the first time in its history, the Tories did a deal with Labour and made sure that they held all the committee chairs. Unfortunately we just could not crack the Labour control until Bill died the following year and Jacqui won the  seat.I was a leaflet coordinator and delivered contact at least once a month, there was a lot of canvasser. I suspect that after I left in 1990 the organization was not their and there was not so much leafleting. She was still highly regarded (not really popular she had a rather obnoxious personality) however the people trusted her especially with her campaigns for Caerau Infants and Trelai Primary schools. She also  forced an inquiry into the state of Cardiff Social services and how badly they were run.
I saw her in 2004 when she asked me to stand in Ely which I did and garnered a decent number of votes, at the time I thought it was not a good idea, and if the Liberal Democrats had not stood then I think that Russell Goodway would not be office today.

She was soundly thrashed by Peter Bradbury and Elenor Simmons in Caerau, how  will they perform. I wish them well and hope they realize that you will not be able to take the people for granted, as For Jacqui, I wish her and Tony a happy retirement.
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