Stealth visit PM panned for failing to face local press in Clwyd South

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A decision not to inform local media of Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to North Wales has been branded typical of the Conservative Party’s election campaign.

Mrs May, who has come under fire over the course of the campaign for strict controls on access for regional press, visited Royton Farm, Royton, but the Leader and other regional media organisations in north Wales were not informed.

Representatives of the national media, including the BBC, Sky News and the Press Association, were invited.

The Prime Minister appeared alongside prospective Clwyd South Conservative MP Simon Baynes for a brief visit before moving onto another marginal constituency.

Mrs May visited North Wales, the South West and the South East over the course of the day.

Last month she visited Gresford to launch the party’s Welsh Manifesto, although her visit was overshadowed as she was grilled on a U-turn over plans for a so-called ‘dementia tax’.

Clwyd South Labour candidate Susan Elan Jones said: “This snubbing of our local media is symptomatic of the way the Tories have conducted their campaign – they’ve completely failed to engage locally.

”I suppose that’s what can happen when you don’t choose a local candidate. Their whole narrative has been ‘vote for Theresa May’ as opposed to ‘vote for a strong local voice who will stand up for you and our communities in Parliament’.

“Over the past couple of weeks we have seen the Tories’ national campaign go into meltdown – the wheels have completely come off.

”Flying a floundering Prime Minister in for a token last-ditch visit 48 hours before polling day won’t fool anyone.”

Chris Allen, Plaid Cymru candidate for Clwyd South, said Mrs May had proved repeatedly she was unwilling to engage in a debate on local issues.

He said: “I think it is typical of the campaign. We know all the main figures in the Conservative Party have been under strict instructions not to engage with local press because the local press know the local issues.

”She doesn’t want to be challenged – it’s almost like propaganda and everything is micro-managed down to the very last detail.

”It was the same with Philip Hammond – he didn’t want to be challenged on issues either.”

”When you’re in a constituency, you need to engage with local issues.”

Simon Baynes, Conservative Party candidate for Clwyd South, declined to comment on the lack of invitations to the Leader and other regional media outlets.

But of the visit, he added: “I would say that this is engaging with a key part of the local community.”

During her visit the PM said a review had been launched after the Manchester bombing and she expected the same process to be launched following Saturday's rampage in London, when seven innocent victims were killed.

She told Sky News political editor Faisal Islam: "MI5 and the police have already said they would be reviewing how they dealt with Manchester and I would expect them to do exactly the same in relation to London Bridge.

"What government needs to do is, and what the Government that comes in after Thursday's election needs to be willing to do, is to give more powers to the police and security service when they need them, needs to deal with this issue of terrorism and extremism online and also needs to be able to call out extremism here in the United Kingdom."

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