Advertisement

Adrian's Election Adventure: New series

Adrian sets off on his election adventure Photo: ITV News Cymru Wales

'Politics without politicians,' they said. And that's what we set out to achieve in this series of four programmes.

I've travelled all over Wales, mostly in a Mini, but at other times making use of train, plane and boat, trying to find out what matters most to people as they decide who to vote for on May 7th.

In that respect, it's been a valuable lesson: what voters think are the main election issues aren't always the same as those argued over by the political parties.

Each of the four programmes follows a similar format: two subject areas, starting off with a bit of history to launch us back into the present day.

DEMOCRACY

So when we wanted to consider questions about the vote itself and how our democracy works, where better to begin my travels than in my home town of Newport?

The statues in Westgate Square in Newport mark the spot where the 1839 Chartist rising came to a bloody end when soldiers opened fire on the protestors.

Westgate Square, Newport, South Wales Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Amongst other things, the Chartists were demanding that every man should have the vote and the right to vote in secret. Virtually all they called for, we now take for granted.

And that's something that worries a lot of people and raises questions about our electoral system.

Just 56% of people under 24 are registered to vote. From Newport, I went to Coleg Gwent in Pontypool to see how the student union there, under the leadership of President Mischa Ross, has joined forces with the campaigning organisation Bite The Ballot to try to persuade more young people to register.

Mischa Ross, President of Coleg Gwent Students' Union, talks to Adrian about young voters Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Politics does appear quite boring and people aren’t engaged as much as they could be, but through the workshops that we’ve been having a lot of young people and a lot of students here have been really engaged and have been having open discussions about matters that concern them.

– Mischa Ross, President of Coleg Gwent Students' Union

IMMIGRATION

If there's one issue that nearly everyone I spoke to for this series has a view on it's immigration, but it can sometimes be hard to pick apart the facts from the fictions.

This part of my journey took me from the oldest settled migrant community in Wales, Butetown in Cardiff, to another community which unwillingly became the focus of the immigration debate, Caia Park in Wrexham.

In 2003 intense tensions between asylum seekers and locals broke out into rioting. One man who remembers it well is Reverend James Aylward who gave sanctuary to fearful asylum seekers in his church hall. Twelve years on, he's seen significant progress.

I think what’s happened with asylum seekers and people who are obviously of different ethnic backgrounds, whether it’s the clothes they wear or the food they eat whatever it may be, this is actually far more welcome now; it’s exciting, it’s interesting. And schools in particular have begun to manage with people who come to them with backgrounds from all over the world. Yes there is more acceptance, more tolerance I think.

– Reverend James Aylward
Adrian meets with Reverend James Aylward in Wrexham, North Wales Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

And that's a view supported by Wanjiku Mbugua who's lived in Wrexham since 2006 and runs Bawso, a charity which offers support to black and minority ethnic women.

In every country, in every community including the community in the UK there are those people who cheat the system. There are cheats everywhere. But those people can’t be used to describe the general population, can they? And it’s the same thing with the migrants. There will be a few people that have had benefits that they should not have had but these people should not be used to describe the general population of the migrants. So for me I look at immigration as a positive notion in Wrexham. It’s brought better things. It’s improved the economy in the area. How comes nobody’s talking about that?

– Wanjiku Mbugua, Bawso

You can see the first of my election adventures tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales, or catch-up straight after at www.itv.com/walesprogrammes

More on this story