Stanwell comes in as one of the least interesting wards. Given that the result in 2008 was so close, if the Conservatives at the UK level hadn’t been polling so poorly then their local candidates could conceivably have been in with a chance. But given the popularity of their party running up to 3 May, there was little prospect of excitement at the count, and my prediction that the two incumbents would retain their chains of office was uncontroversial. So congratulations to Labour’s Janice Birch and Mark Wilson, and 2/2 for me.
The results themselves are here.
The Conservative vote in Stanwell fell by 33%, slightly more than in Plymouth or St. Augustine’s but in line with the trend. But the most interesting statistic here is the Labour surge – up 36% on 2008. This is looking like a big result for Labour because it’s much more impressive than the increases elsewhere in town. Plaid Cymru’s drop of 20% looks pretty good judging by their results elsewhere, although it’s as well to note that it’s not a strictly comparable result: this was the only ward in Penarth where just one candidate was put up (Sully also had just one).
How did we go for turnout in Stanwell? 1,102 people hauled themselves out of bed to put a cross in a box out of an electorate of 3,245. At 34% this isn’t just the lowest in Penarth, it’s among the bottom wards in the whole Vale of Glamorgan. We’ll see later in this post if there’s a relationship between relative deprivation and turnout.
So Janice Birch got the support of a whopping 60% of voters. With just Sully left to analyse, I’m willing to venture that Janice is the most popular politician in Penarth/Sully. She pipped Mark Wilson, who himself got a 59% approval rating. A stunning victory for Labour in this ward.
The Conservatives’ Ken Lloyd and Christopher Williams got votes from 28% and 27% of the voters, which is only slightly better than the Cornerswell Conservative candidates managed. Adrian Roper for Plaid persuaded 14% of voters of his merits.
The non-voters are potentially hugely significant in this ward with its very low turnout. So let’s remove our 10% from the electorate of 3,245 for a maximum potential roll-call of 2,921. Now subtracting the 1,102 voters leaves 1,819 non-voters, of whom a staggeringly low 37% would need to vote for our independent candidate in order for her to come top of the heap in Stanwell. After all the good news for Labour in this ward, this has got to be cause for some discomfort. After all, if someone really wanted to take this ward (and Stanwell isn’t the only one to fall into this category), they could theoretically do it with a decent bit of constituency campaigning in the year or two running up to 2017. Hopefully Janice and Mark don’t need to be reminded of this in order to be good constituency councillors.
I’ve been intrigued by the link between turnout and relative deprivation, and it turns out there is somewhere that we can explore the link: the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. This index goes deeper than our electoral wards, each of which is sub-set into three or four constituent parts by the WIMD (not to be confused with WMD). So we can go about it by the statistically unsatisfactory way of ‘averaging’ the WIMD rankings for wards as a whole. And this is what we come up with (in order of most deprived first). Note that a ‘higher’ number means that that ward is relatively less deprived:
- Stanwell – 1,177 (turnout 34%)
- St. Augustine’s – 1416 (turnout 38%)
- Cornerswell – 1,420 (turnout 38%)
- Sully – 1,624 (turnout 44%)
- Plymouth – 1,722 (turnout 41%)
Well that looks pretty convincing to me. It would be relatively easy to do this for the whole of the Vale, and I’d be very surprised if the statistical link were not very strong indeed.
Of course, that’s also slightly depressing. Does it mean that there’s essentially no hope for us to buck the trend in Penarth? That we’ll never get decent turnouts regardless of the commitment and enthusiasm of the candidates?