Wales politics

Cardiff Central: Food for thought in the capital city

City Road, Cardiff
Image caption A walk down City Road shows how Cardiff Central is the most diverse constituency in Wales

Cardiff's City Road is so cosmopolitan it is apparently possible to sample food from 37 different countries along the way.

The road runs through Cardiff Central, which can also claim to be Wales' most diverse constituency. One fifth of voters here were born outside the UK.

Among them is Mohammed Sarul Islam, a former Plaid Cymru councillor, who is standing for UKIP and says he is the only true Brexit candidate.

Image caption Mohammed Sarul Islam denies any contradiction in being an immigrant UKIP candidate

Although an immigrant from Bangladesh, he defends UKIP's policy of seeking to end net migration through a "one-in, one out" policy.

He tells me: "What I believe is every nation has a right to defend their border, their boundary, but what UKIP's trying to do is an Australian type of points-based system which is working in other countries."

In last year's referendum, the city of Cardiff voted to remain in the European Union, and the Liberal Democrats hope to exploit that to win back a seat they lost to Labour only two years ago.

Image caption Eluned Parrott and the Lib Dems want to give people a say on the terms of leaving the EU

Candidate Eluned Parrott, a former AM, insists she accepts last year's vote to leave but says voters had not been offered a choice of Brexit options.

"We need to give people an opportunity to say we want to stay in the single market, we want to see the terms of the deal, we want to actually have a chance to say 'this deal is good enough' or 'no, that deal is not good enough'," she says.

Image caption Jo Stevens (left) marshals her Labour troops for another round of door-knocking

Labour's Jo Stevens, defending a majority of 4,981 votes, resigned from Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet to vote against the triggering of Article 50. She says this election is very different from past polls.

"It's a complex election this time," she says.

"It's very uncertain political times we're living in so people are voting, sometimes personality-based, sometimes single issue based, sometimes people who have voted are not going to vote, sometimes people who haven't voted are going to vote. It's very, very unpredictable."

Image copyright Ben Smith
Image caption Ben Smith is campaigning on traditional Green concerns about the environment

Plaid Cymru came fifth last time, behind UKIP and the Greens, who are fielding 19-year-old Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama student Ben Smith this time.

"The big issue for me will always be our planet and environment," he says.

"Climate change will be the biggest issue we face in our lifetimes and I want to make sure a proper solution is put in place for the future."

Image caption Ex-Lib Dem Mark Hooper says Plaid Cymru are the only party that can fight for Wales

The Plaid Cymru candidate is a former Lib Dem, Mark Hooper, who launched his campaign at an Indian tea shop in Roath.

"Elections are changing now," he said "and I think people are going to realise actually there's a party, one party, that focuses on Wales and the problems for Wales.

"We're perhaps going through what could be the worst Brexit for Wales and you need a party that's going to stand up for the country, and therefore for jobs, the economy and so on."

I caught up with the Conservative candidate, London councillor Greg Stafford, on a stroll through sunny Roath Park. As the locals sampled ice creams, he tried to sell them Theresa May as "the only choice" to negotiate the UK's departure from the European Union.

"Brexit dominates this election," he told me, "and I think my focus has been to explain why a Conservative government will be the best government for making sure that we get the best deal from Europe, that we increase trade with the rest of the world and secure our borders.

Image caption Conservative candidate Greg Stafford goes after the youth vote

"[Cardiff Central] did vote remain but I think the vast majority of people that I speak to on the doorstep now are saying 'yes, we voted remain but we accept we will be leaving and who do we want to be doing that negotiation?' And they say it's Theresa May, that's clearly the only choice."

Brexit may be an issue here but it is not the only one. One man told me he would be voting Conservative for the first time. Why? "Corbyn". But another praised the Labour leader and his policies.

Tory Greg Stafford was challenged by voters over plans to end free school meals for infant schoolchildren and to shake-up social care.

He patiently explained that neither policy would apply in Wales, where both issues are decided by the Welsh Government. But the nature of the challenge suggests the politicians - and the media - have a long way to go before Welsh voters understand how devolution works.

Food for thought as you sample the culinary delights of City Road.

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