Cappuccino interviews

I've never drunk so much coffee in my life after speaking to all of the Welsh party leaders in a range of cafes in what I've called the "cappuccino" interviews for Wales Today.

Four down, two to go.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have been done and next week I'll be in Builth Wells and Newport for UKIP and the Greens.

So what did I learn?

In the glorious early morning sunshine over coffee in Bute Park in Cardiff, the Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb gave an insight into the look and feel of the election when he spoke about how health was dominating as a doorstep issue, despite it being devolved.


It's become increasingly clear that the NHS will become more high profile than it has ever been in a general election campaign in Wales since the start of devolution.

Stephen Crabb says in years gone by the candidates have tried to point out to voters that this isn't an election about the NHS because it's devolved but this time round he says people don't want to hear that kind of answer.

I suggested to him he was being disingenuous to use the NHS in this way but his response is that this is being led by voters and it's up to the candidates to follow their lead.

And it's a view shared by many of the other parties as well so for the next month the usual neat demarcation between devolved and non-devolved matters will disappear.

At the end of the campaign, I suspect the public will be left more confused than ever about devolution.


As our poll showed last year, after 15 years devolution there are still huge levels of confusion and a campaign like this is not going to help matters.

Kirsty Williams played a straight bat with me outside Merlins cafe in Ystradgynlais where she was taking a break while out campaigning with the Liberal Democrat Brecon and Radnorshire candidate Roger Williams.

I tried my best to get some sense of who she'd like to do a deal with but she wouldn't open the door even slightly on a preference, instead stressing the well-versed priorities of dealing with the deficit, taking people out of income tax and supporting the treatment of mental health.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I didn't get anything new out of the interview, other than a reminder of how the party won't relent in its efforts convincing people that the coalition with the Conservatives has been worth it.

I've already mentioned my interview with Labour's Owen Smith on Barry Island in a previous blog but here's a link to the full interview if anyone wants to see it.


Plaid Cymru is still buzzing after the leaders' debate.

Leanne Wood told me she's lost count of the number of interviews she's done. Mine with her yesterday was one of a number she did as she enjoys the kind of exposure previous Plaid leaders can only have dreamt of.

In the World of Boats cafe in Cardiff Bay, a group of lads from Birmingham came over and wished her the best for the election having seen her on the debate.

That, I was told, is typical of the many exchanges she's had since appearing on the platform next to Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon.

One of the big questions of the campaign is whether Plaid can take advantage of this profile and the surge in nationalism in Scotland and translate it into votes on the ground in their existing three seats and three target seats in Wales.

Any increase would give them crucial momentum heading into the Assembly elections but any reduction in seats would surely leave them with some big questions to face.