Monthly Archives: Mai 2012

St. Augustine’s 2012

So this is the ward where my predictions started to falter. I got 1/2 for St. Augustine’s with Lis Burnett turning up trumps for Labour. So congratulations to Lis, and to her party colleague Gwyn Roberts for proving me wrong.

Here are the results for all to see. We’re starting to get a picture of trends throughout Penarth and Sully, although I’ll wait until I’ve analysed them all before commenting on the overall picture.

The Conservative vote in St. Augustine’s fell by 29%, mirroring the reduction in Plymouth ward. At the same time,  the Labour vote increased by 20%, which was a bigger surge than in Cornerswell where the seats also changed hands to Labour. Plaid had a disastrous result, down 43% on 2008. One way of looking at this would conceivably be to argue that the Green candidate’s 280 votes, if added to the Plaid candidates, would have meant a relatively even keel. But look at what happened to the Plaid vote in Plymouth and you’ll see that it’s entirely consistent with the St. Augustine’s result. This gives me cause to think my judgement was correct in the previous posts where only one candidate had previously stood. This, plus the consistency in results across wards for Conservative and Labour, also indicates that although 261 fewer votes were cast in 2012 than in 2008, the Green votes were additional to those cast for other parties and didn’t subtract from the other parties’ popularity.

Cornerswell and St. Augustine’s are going to be merged with Llandough to form the super-ward of Penarth North in the next elections in 2017. I’ll be analysing the chances of the various candidates and parties closer to the time.

Turnout in St. Augustine’s was 38%, in the middle of the range of the five Penarth/Sully seats.

So Labour’s duo of Lis Burnett and Gwyn Roberts received the support of 47% and 42% respectively. The margin in favour of support for Lis was quite substantial, and echoes the result in Cornerswell where the female Labour candidate came well ahead of the male. Is there something in this? Are the female candidates pulling in more voters? Do they both just happen to be stronger candidates or were they better at campaigning? Or is it simply the alphabet effect?!

Certainly the male Conservative candidate did better than the female one, with Paul Church getting the backing of 33% of voters. But the margin was wafer-thin – just 7 votes in it – so Sophie Williams also got support from 33%. This is the crux of my failure to predict St. Augustine’s. Firstly I didn’t foresee the scale of the Labour swing that propelled Gwyn into second spot. But I was also persuaded that Sophie’s local activity would have been enough to push her ahead of Paul in the pecking order. Evidently having been around town for a long time is more of a factor – at least between candidates from the same party – than I’d expected. I’m a little surprised. Of all the sitting councillors, Sophie seemed to be the most active locally. Of course, there’s a large element of communication in there – some incumbents might have been doing an awful lot but just not publicising it. But it shows that I was persuaded by the communication to the effect that I placed her above Paul in my prediction.

And there’s a second aspect. Like many people in Penarth, I get a growing proportion of my information online. My respect for the Penarth Times has eroded as time has gone by because it seems to be little more than a vehicle for printing press releases. I’m convinced that in five years’ time the councillors without an online presence will be in a minority, and those that haven’t will suffer electorally as a result. So perhaps Sophie was ahead of the online game but paid the price of an audience that was just too small in May 2012. Time will tell.

Anthony Slaughter was supported by 15% of voters. That sounds like a creditable result, particularly when put in the context of what the Greens will need in 2016’s National Assembly elections to get representation in South Wales Central. As ever, the trick will be in convincing the electorate that a Green vote ‘isn’t a wasted vote’. For my part, there’s no such thing as a wasted vote – except a vote that hasn’t been cast. And we’ll come to that in a minute.

Niclas ap Glyn got the backing of 12% of voters while his Plaid counterpart David Wilton persuaded 10% to support him. Plaid’s showing in Penarth – Cornerswell aside – seems to have been pretty dire.

So let’s see how many non-voters there were. Subtracting the magic 10% from an electorate of 4,906 gives us 4,415 potential voters. Subtracting the 1,871 who voted leaves 2,544. So once again, our independent candidate needs to persuade just 35% of the non-voting public in St. Augustine’s to leap to the top of the list. When you think about it in these terms, it’s these non-voters who are the holy grail. Why do people bother trying to convince people who are already voting to vote for a different party when the massive gains can clearly be made with the refuseniks? Of course, I’m joking. I imagine the effort expended on trying to persuade someone to vote in a local election at all must be substantial, let alone getting them to vote for a particular candidate or party. But there may just be a lesson for us all in Sully, which we’ll be investigating in a few posts’ time.

4 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Plymouth 2012

You must be thinking I’m avoiding the wards where my predictions fell very wide of the mark. Fear not, everything in good time. For now, I can feel pretty pleased with myself because I get 2/2 for my prediction for Plymouth ward. Not that it’s a truly insightful prediction – I said at the time that “Plymouth will keep its Conservative councillors for ever”. Congratulations, then, to Conservative incumbents Maureen Kelly-Owen and Clive Williams.

And here are the results in their historical context.

Fascinating! The Conservative vote in Plymouth only dropped by 29%. Compared with the total collapse in Cornerswell, something significant appears to have affected the fate of the candidates in the two wards. Readers of this blog will know that I have a particularly low opinion of Dorothy Turner and John Fraser – could it be that publicity surrounding their unconscionable negligence had the effect of depressing their vote further? We’ll have to wait and see what happened to the Conservative vote elsewhere in Penarth before coming to any conclusions.

There was a 23% increase in the Labour vote, substantially higher than that registered by the Labour candidates in Cornerswell but still a wide margin short of victory.

And for Plaid, I’m going to look at it in the same way as I did in Cornerswell, which is that their vote reduced by 46%, rather than increased by 8%. This is a substantially worse result than the Cornerswell candidates achieved. Again, I’ll need to examine results in other Penarth wards before coming to any conclusions.

For both Labour and Plaid, their energies appear to be best expended elsewhere rather than in this unassailably blue ward. But of course Plymouth and Stanwell are going to be combined in time for the next election, so that really shakes things up. I’ll discuss what that means for our hopefuls in about four and a half years’ time. But I’ll be returning to the proposed new boundaries much sooner than that because there are important points of democratic principle at stake.

And for interest, the Lib Dem candidate polled just 28% of the 2004 candidate. That might indicate the perils of not standing candidates on a regular basis, or it may just be a reflection of the chronically poor UK poll ratings being enjoyed by the Lib Dems recently. I know where my money’s sitting.

Only Sully registered a higher turnout than Plymouth. Who said turnout was related to social status?! A total of 1,868 people voted from the total permissible of 4,570. That’s a 41% turnout. And it’s not going to take much maths to sort out most of the candidates here because Maureen Kelly Owen and Clive Williams were neck-and-neck, receiving the blessing of slap bang 50% of voters apiece. So even in a good election for Labour, the Conservatives would still have taken this seat under just about any voting system you care to mention. Now I’m feeling statistically supported in my confidence of the safety of this ward to the Conservatives.

Labour’s Tracey Alexander got the nod from 32% of voters, which means that the party’s Philip Rapier (29%) leaked votes to the Lib Dem candidate David Ellis who himself picked up just 8%. He’ll be buying Philip a pint next time they’re in the Labour Club I expect. Those leaky votes don’t appear to have ended up with either of the Plaid candidates Sandra Clubb and Marc Jones who, like the Conservatives, were inseparable – each with the support of 11% of voters.

This brings me to a point of passing interest. I mentioned the ‘alphabet effect’ in a previous post. Well, Plymouth is the only ward where people with surnames earlier in the alphabet didn’t get a voting bonus as a result, with this being the case for both the Conservatives and Plaid. Could it be that every person voting Plaid and Conservative voted for both candidates from the chosen party? While I’m willing to consider this for Plaid, with 202 voters, it’s much less likely with 939 voters because the likelihood of deviations in voting patterns increases as the number of voters increases. It’s difficult to explain in any other terms because the numbers are so neat. But then there’s no reason that random chance shouldn’t result in an identical tally for these parties’ candidates. Given the results from 2008, I’m going to suggest that these results are coincidental and that the Conservatives and Plaid haven’t yet found a way of getting every voter to vote exclusively for their party.

On to turnout. I’m going to make the same assumptions about non-voters for Plymouth as I did for Cornerswell. So we’re knocking 10% off the electoral roll to give 4,113 potential voters. Subtracting the 1,868 who bothered to vote gives 2,245 electors who found other things to trouble them than the 5 minutes it takes to put a few crosses in boxes to determine the future of local services in the Vale until 2017.

So in order to top the poll in Plymouth our independent candidate would need to garner just 42% of the non-voters. Again, that’s assuming that not one current voter would be persuaded from the other parties and into the arms of the alternative. This is important to bear in mind, because of course each vote coming from the incumbents counts as double for any other candidate – one more for them and one less to beat the incumbent.

This issue of a higher turnout in wealthier wards is one that’s exercising my mind a fair bit. I had assumed that turnout would be higher in more competitive wards but – as we’ll see with St. Augustine’s in the next post – that hasn’t been borne out by the facts. I must confess that’s slightly disappointing. I’d wanted the evidence to help support my preconception that a good level of competition between candidates and parties is healthy for democracy. After all, that was supposed to be one of the reasons in favour of the single transferable vote they use in Scottish council elections. Could it be that that’s not necessarily the case – at least, in local authority terms here in Penarth? Unfortunately we’re not going to find out turnout figures in Scotland until September to be able to test them against Wales’ figures. But then, I haven’t been able to find figures for all-Wales turnout anywhere online. Perhaps I’ll have to have a go myself!

Let’s have a look at turnout throughout the Vale. Just two wards reported turnout of greater than 50%. And while Dinas Powys has some areas that are slightly less than exclusive, Peterston-super-Ely could hardly be described as struggling. Coming in higher than 45% were Cowbridge and Llandow/Ewenny. At the other end of the scale, five wards had a very low turnout – less than 35%: Buttrills, Court, Gibbonsdown, Stanwell and finally Cadoc, which only just scraped above 30%. Gibbonsdown and Court comprise a Communities First area, Buttrills is Barry town centre, Cadoc is largely Cadoxton, and Stanwell, well, I need to have a closer look to see if it’s Penarth’s poorest ward, but on first glimpse this is an outlier. The rest of the results though seem consistent with people in higher social classes being more likely to vote than those in lower social classes. This has further implications for the local boundary shake-up – as if there wasn’t enough in the mix already.

As far as I can tell, there’s no ward-based income or well-being measurement that can usefully tell us which are definitively the poorest wards in the Vale. Please point me in the right direction if I’m mistaken: penartharbyd[a]gmail.com. I’ve come across this website which gives some idea of ward-level crime, which in itself is an indicator of deprivation. Unfortunately, it seems to think that Plymouth ward, Penarth, is the same ward as Plymouth ward, Merthyr Tudful, so it’s not terribly helpful. And the results are month-by-month and therefore much more subject to statistical vagaries than if they did a helpful annual summary. They do give 12 months’ worth of figures so theoretically you could compile a year’s results to make it more statistically robust but believe it or not I’ve got better things to do with my time.

Like starting work on “St. Augustine’s 2012”.

8 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Vale of Glamorgan Council

How Influential Was Penarth A’r Byd?

Several people have expressed an interest in the hits received by this blog in the run-up to the election on 3 May. Here’s the graph of hits received (click on the graph for a larger version).

So just how influential was Penarth A’r Byd in this election?

I think it’s fair to say that the influence was probably not that great. You can see on the graphic that the site got 176 hits on election day itself (it peaked on 4 May with 237 hits for those who are interested). Some of the people viewing this site would be candidates themselves, or people who have a very firm idea of their voting preference and therefore not swayed by the content.

But it’s also fair to assume that some hits came from people who wouldn’t necessarily have decided their voting preference before the day. People accessing this site are highly likely to be politically engaged, and therefore almost certain to vote. If nothing else, that should be reason enough for candidates to want to share their electoral material by emailing penartharbyd[a]gmail.com or, as the enterprising Cornerswell Plaid candidates did, via a link to a social media page. And it’s not inconceivable that some of the articles might have influenced some people’s votes. Not that they would have been pointed in any particular direction. I hope most candidates would agree that this blog has maintained a politically neutral, objective viewpoint. That’s my intention at any rate.

Now let’s have a look at the election results to see who came closest to getting elected to truth-check my analysis. It looks like the closest failing candidate was the Conservatives’ Paul Church, who would have needed a whopping 160 additional votes to overtake Labour’s Gwyn Roberts in St. Augustine’s. So there we have it. If every single person viewing this site resided in St. Augustine’s and was in a two-way toss-up between Paul and Gwyn it’s conceivable this blog could have made a difference.

But in reality?

Nope.

So does that spell the end for Penarth A’r Byd?

Fat chance.

3 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cornerswell 2012

This post has been updated to incorporate turnout figures: with thanks to Osian Lewis for pointing out the link.

Here’s the first of my analyses of the wards of interest to Penarth. The others will follow in good time.

I’ll award myself 2/2 for Cornerswell. I predicted Labour would take both seats and so it proved. Congratulations to Rhiannon Birch and Peter King.

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, I’m not going to offer commiserations to the outgoing councillors John Fraser and Dorothy Turner, for the reasons stated in this post. They neglected their constituents and thoroughly deserved to go.

So what happened in this election? We have the bald results here.

The most compelling feature of these results is the complete collapse in the Conservative vote to just 47% of the 2008 level. In fact, judging by the 2004 result, this means that Cornerswell is looking safe for Labour for the following term, 2017-2021. Or at least, it would be if Cornerswell existed in 2017. It won’t, but that’s a story I’m going to return to at another time.

The Labour vote increased by 15%, which is a respectable but not excellent result. Look around Wales today and you see a tidal wave of Labour across most of the country. A 15% increase in those terms is relatively modest and suggests that the Labour vote in Cornerswell is going to be resistant to increases above today’s level. I would call it a high water mark, but in fact any such statement is irrelevant because of the reorganisation of ward boundaries in Penarth.

There are two ways of assessing the Plaid vote this time round because there were two candidates instead of one. Either you take the total vote as a huge 45% increase on the vote last election, or you see it as a 27% reduction. I’m taking the second approach because in a multi-member ward I don’t consider votes for two candidates as additional to votes for one in a previous election. On the plus side, both candidates were within 100 votes of both the previous councillors, although that reflects more on the Conservative vote collapse than a Plaid surge.

The Lib Dem candidate was the only one in Penarth to spectacularly fail to breach triple figures.

Turnout in Cornerswell was 1,491 out of 3,948 registered electors, giving 38%. This is the second-lowest turnout figure of the Penarth/Sully wards.

More than half of those who voted (53%) placed an X against Rhiannon Birch’s name.  She has a very strong mandate to represent Cornerswell. Perhaps only she can explain her substantially better showing than Labour colleague Peter King, who nonetheless gained votes from 47% of those who voted. Or is it the well-known ‘alphabet effect‘? The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that throughout Penarth, every single candidate with a surname earlier in the alphabet received equal or higher votes than the candidate from the same party but with the later surname. Perhaps we’ll see a renaissance in the use of ‘ap’ surnames amongst the Welsh political classes that has worked so well for Niclas ap Glyn!

John Fraser and Dorothy Turner of the Conservatives managed to inveigle 25% and 23% of voters to mark their cards, while Plaid’s Luke James and Osian Lewis got the nod from 21% and 19%. Meanwhile, just 4% of voters could bring themselves to vote for the Lib Dem candidate Damian Chick – overall, the Lib Dems captured votes cast by less than than 3% of the Penarth/Sully electorate.

Perhaps the most intriguing element of this is the non-voters. Now let’s be clear from the outset: not everyone who’s registered to vote is eligible to vote. Between registering and election day, some people die, some go to prison (yes, even in Penarth!), and some will become incapacitated and unable to vote (although the advent of postal and proxy voting alleviate this latter issue). And then you have people who are registered in more than one ward or local authority, mostly perfectly legally. They may choose which to vote in and may have chosen to vote elsewhere than Penarth. For the sake of argument, I’m going to suggest that these factors knock 10% off the total registered voters. If anyone can come up with a more accurate alternative I’m all ears.

So in Cornerswell we’re down to 3,553 voters, and our practicable identifiable turnout is now a (slightly) more respectable 42%. Subtract the 1,491 who voted and you’re left with 2,062 non-voters who could have cast their vote on 3 May.

Now for the politicians out there, you’ll be left drooling. An independent candidate with no history of activity in the ward only has to persuade 39% of the non-voters to support them to come top of the list in Cornerswell. That’s assuming that in the meantime you won’t take a single vote from any other candidate.

And what makes non-voters vote? Well, you’re the aspiring politicians. But here’s a starter for ten. Don’t take your electorate for granted. Find out ways to solve problems they have (believe me, being outside the system is sometimes a better way of achieving this than being an existing councillor). Have a smile for them every time a door closes in your face.  If something is more properly dealt with by another level of authority – MP, AM or MEP – put the constituent in touch with the relevant person without it looking like you’re passing the buck. And communicate, communicate, communicate. Tell people what’s going on and, if you can’t achieve what you set out to, tell them what prevented you.

Good luck over the next 5 years!

15 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Vale of Glamorgan Council

The Count

No, not this one.

Cornerswell

  • Rhiannon Birch – Labour – 796 – ELECTED
  • Peter King – Labour – 698 – ELECTED
  • John Fraser – Conservative – 376
  • Dorothy Turner – Conservative – 350
  • Luke James – Plaid – 308
  • Osian Lewis – Plaid – 282
  • Damian Chick – Lib Dem – 64

Plymouth

  • Maureen Kelly Owen – Conservative – 939 – ELECTED
  • Clive Williams – Conservative – 939 – ELECTED
  • Tracey Alexander – Labour – 598
  • Philip Rapier – Labour – 547
  • Sandra Clubb – Plaid – 202
  • Marc Jones – Plaid – 202
  • David Ellis – Lib Dem – 153

St. Augustine’s

  • Lis Burnett – Labour – 887 – ELECTED
  • Gwyn Roberts – Labour – 781 – ELECTED
  • Paul Church – Conservative – 622
  • Sophie Williams – Conservative – 615
  • Anthony Slaughter – Green – 280
  • Niclas ap Glyn – Plaid – 217
  • David Wilton – Plaid – 193
Stanwell
  • Janice Birch – Labour – 666 – ELECTED
  • Mark Wilson – Labour – 651 – ELECTED
  • Ken Lloyd – Conservative – 309
  • Christopher Williams – Conservative – 294
  • Adrian Roper – Plaid – 152
Sully
  • Bob Penrose – Independent – 876 – ELECTED
  • Kevin Mahoney – UKIP – 633 – ELECTED
  • Sarah Sharpe – Conservative – 464
  • Anthony Ernest – Conservative – 342
  • Paula Hardy – Labour – 330
  • Carolyn Mirza-Davies – Plaid – 148

Total roll-call of councillors:

Labour – 6

Conservative – 2

Independent – 1

UKIP – 1

 

also

Llandough

  • Kate Edmunds – Labour – 374 – ELECTED
  • Ben Gray – Conservative – 178
  • Steven Thomas – Plaid – 74

7 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Use Your Vote

The elections to determine which individuals and political parties will represent Penarth at the local authority level (as well as town councils) for the next five years are tomorrow. Use your vote.

Voter turnout at local elections in Wales runs at 44%. That means that 56% of people are happy to have no voice in decisions that affect social services, education, waste, local transport, planning, housing, libraries, parks and gardens… Use your vote.

We know that older people are much more likely to vote than younger people – twice as likely, by some counts. Does this mean that younger people trust older people to make decisions on their behalf? Look at the mess Wales is in today and ask yourself: have older people done a great job on my behalf? Young people, use your vote.

Older people know that other older people are most likely to exert political influence, and because they aren’t happy with other older people running their lives, that makes them more likely to vote. Older people, your peers are much more likely to vote than younger people. Do you really want your peers to be exerting more political influence than any other portion of society? Use your vote!

We know that poorer people are less likely to vote than richer people. Poorer people, do you really want richer people to be exerting more political influence than you do? That’s one of the reasons that they’re rich and you’re not – because the political system protects its own. Use your vote.

Women are less likely to vote than men. Think about all the men exerting political power in the world. Do you have faith in them? After all, they only gave you the right to vote (if you were over 21 years of age) in 1928. Women, use  your vote.

People from ethnic minorities are less likely to vote than white people. Is everything so hunky-dory for people of different skin colour that you can leave it to the white people? Use your vote.

Even if you spoil your ballot paper, you’re making a statement. But better than that, look into what the various candidates have to offer. I’ve given you a head start in this blog – there’s more than enough information here to help you come to a decision.

Use your vote.

3 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Penarth Town Council, Vale of Glamorgan Council