YOU get a sense of unfinished business when talking to Mark Williams.

The former Ceredigion Welsh Liberal Democrat MP lost his seat 12 months ago to the day – June 8, 2017 - to Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake in a tight General Election vote that went to two recounts.

Only 104 votes separated the two leading candidates on a night of high political drama as the count unfolded in Aberaeron.

After 12 years as the local MP, that could not have been an easy defeat to take.

“When you lose an election it is not the most pleasant experience but anyone who is elected to anything is fooling themselves if they think it will go on forever. That’s the nature of our democracy,” said Mark.

“And yes, to lose by such a narrow margin did hurt, I won’t pretend otherwise

“I had those discussions with my wife on a number of occasions and I have been very lucky. Very quickly I was given the chance to go back to what I did before in teaching and I have been appointed assistant head teacher at my school.

“I loved my job as an MP but equally, I love my job now but I am still very much involved in local issues. This is my home, I have no intention of going anywhere and it is important to me that I am still playing an active part in the community.

“Some of my former colleagues have gone through the experience of losing their seats and are still suffering now. Yes, it is fair to say that Westminster can be described as a bubble and that some say it is detached from the real world but I never felt that.

“The most important part of my job when I was an MP was engaging with people in the constituency.

“There was nothing better than stepping off that train on a Thursday night, feeling that blast of sea air and being back here.

“That work still goes on in a different way. Others find it hard to adapt to the real world. I used to take about the public sector and vote on issues - now I am back as a primary school teacher and whatever political opportunities arise in the future, I am learning from experience in the real world and that’s no bad thing.

“I stood in 2005 on the understanding it would be the last election I fought. To my surprise, I was elected and I have every understanding as to what it is like to be an MP.

“I went up to Westminster to clear my desk and the first person I bumped into was Ben and I wished him well as I knew what he was going through in those early stages.

“It is a shock and there is no job like it. You seem to lose control of your life – your diary is completely dictated to by the parliamentary whips and your constituents. You need a lot of stamina and energy – it’s remorseless.

“It is a hugely demanding job but also such a rewarding job and gives you a huge insight into people’s lives and the work that goes on here in Ceredigion.

“Regardless of party, I commend anyone who sticks their head up above the parapet. It is all about public service and this county has a tradition of electing MPs from different parties and they tend to put their constituents above party.

“I still care passionately. I thought I was more likely to win than lose the election but that said, you get a hunch during a campaign of what’s going on. The fact the election was called was a surprise and it came very quickly.

“There were great mistakes made in the Liberal Democrat campaign of which the leader at the time Tim Farron is fully aware. There were messages that I disagreed with that were naïve and wrong.

“I had a hunch it did not feel right and the campaign was different but could not put my finger on what was going on.

“The UKIP vote collapsed and people underestimated the role of Jeremy Corbyn and he articulated an honesty and straightforwardness associated historically with the Liberal Democrats.

“There were a lot of competing factors and to lose by 104 votes, I thought about that a lot.”

And while he may no longer be involved in the day-to-day cut and thrust of political life, Mark has certainly not taken a back seat.

“There is great hardship in West Wales. Is that entirely the fault of Westminster? It has to be part of it and the decisions made by all parties,” he said

“But we also have to look at the National Assembly and decisions made there have to be more responsive to the needs on the ground. We might be missing a trick.

“We do have rural deprivation and there is huge pressure on rural services.

“I campaigned hard to save Bodlondeb care home in Aberystwyth from closure as I believe provision of social care for the elderly is very important. We are an aging population in this area and there is a demographic time bomb that the third sector cannot cover. That means government has to respond but they are not listening in rural areas.

Ceredigion County Council has some tough decisions to make and I question some of their decisions.

“The direction being taken in the care of the elderly in their own homes denies the fact that huge numbers of people need residential care facilities for dementia and Alzheimers.

“We are lacking those facilities. These are hard decisions to make and it’s very worrying and mind-boggling.

“My wife runs a family centre in Borth and the needs in our community that have emerged are immense. The work of local charities is very, very important but do they have the continuing resources to do it?

“The news of the new health centre in Cardigan is timely but I believe there is that need for beds. The idea that this centre can become a ‘virtual ward’ where nurses flit from home to home visiting patients is a complete nonsense. It flies in the face of reality.

“We still lag behind in broadband provision and transport and nothing is changing and we are still having the same conversations, the same issues are still on-going. I was told by 2015 there would be a European standard for broadband – nowadays this is not an optional extra, it is a necessity.

“Reducing VAT on tourism in areas like this has been discussed but that has got lost in the whole Brexit argument. Indeed, the whole Brexit debate means we are obscuring other issues.

“I believe there are huge risks to our economy here. I voted in favour of the referendum to solve the issue once and for all but it has not done that.

“People still need to remember that we are net beneficiaries of funding from the European community. More money is paid into the economy than is paid out. Will that continue, especially in the farming industry?

“My concern is the economy locally and the people here as we are so far down the Brexit road and yet we are none the wiser as to what is going to happen.

“My 12 years dealing with Whitehall tells me that I do not trust the Welsh interest to be looked after. There is a deficit of knowledge. They have no idea what goes on in the hill farms and rural communities of West Wales.

“I do love my politics and I believe strongly in a public service ethic. That was engrained in me by my parents and that still motivates me a lot.

“I was having a wander round in Cardigan, staying at the castle and Cliff Hotel at Gwbert and people tell me I should stand again, I genuinely don’t know but we shall see. There are so many imponderables and I do believe things happen for a reason.

“I have had time to reflect and spend time with my wife and children, who are growing up all too fast.

“I am genuinely enjoying teaching but my commitment to Ceredigion and serving this county is massive. You simply can’t turn it off like a tap when you have been so involved and lived here for a long time.

“I have been a liberal candidate for 18 years and cannot just ignore that and may have future aspirations, but ultimately, Ceredigion Liberal Democrats will have their say as they choose the candidates.

“As a rule I was always told ‘don’t rule anything out and don’t rule anything in’.”

One again, that sense of unfinished business lingers. Watch this space ….