Once again Plaid fielded candidates in every ward. Their capacity to fill all the potential slots available appears to be increasing, with Stanwell and Sully the only wards with one candidate (as opposed to Cornerswell, Plymouth and Stanwell in 2008). Plaid’s inability to field the full slate of candidates in every ward means there’s an element of guesswork in determining performance.
As far as I can tell there are no estimates of the national share of the vote that Plaid, the Conservatives or Labour took in Wales. That may be a measure of multi-member wards, which makes it more difficult to attribute a share of the vote to particular parties (this is not an argument against multi-member wards – there are much stronger fundamental democratic reasons to oppose them). One way of more effectively measuring support in local elections where multi-member wards exist is to use the Single Transferable Vote, which enables an analysis of first preference votes. But why do they have it in Scotland and Northern Ireland but we don’t in Wales? After all, totting up the share of the vote is one of the least compelling reasons for moving to the STV system – here are some much more powerful arguments. And it’s the system of election recommended by the Sunderland Commission for Wales. The reason – as for many democratic deficiencies in Wales – is the result of internal party politics in the Labour Party, with former Assembly Member Peter Law forecasting “corridors running with blood” if the change were approved. And until the next Labour electoral disaster there’ll be no pressure from our lords and masters for a healthier democracy.
Back to Plaid. We can summarise the party’s performance thus:
- Cornerswell – 27% down
- Plymouth – 46% down
- St. Augustine’s – 43% down
- Stanwell – 20% down
- Sully – 12% down
For the reasons stated in the posts, I don’t think that the results in Sully and Stanwell and strictly comparable with the others. And as I’ve noted above, these are the only wards where the party had just one candidate. So I’m going to use the three wards where we have directly comparable results in my analysis.
Plaid had a fairly disastrous set of elections in Penarth. They will refer to the London bias of the mediaand the lack of a mature national press in Wales as partly responsible. And although this is a story I will return to, the Secretary of State for Wales in consideration of establishment of the Assembly conceded:
There is obviously a strong case for broadcasting to be included in the assembly’s responsibilities. Broadcasting is important in Wales and there is a distinctive broadcasting agenda
But all parties have to operate in the current circumstances.
So what went on locally? Performance was comparable in Plymouth and St. Augustine’s, down about 45% on the 2008 results. But Cornerswell registered a fall of just 27%, so nearly 20% better than elsewhere in Penarth.
I’ve referred earlier to the dearth of election material for Plaid in Penarth – an absence that was rapidly eliminated in Cornerswell courtesy of Osian Lewis and Luke James. Since no other Plaid material came my way, I’m making the bold assumption that there wasn’t any.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if actually campaigning in a local election and delivering leaflets to your constituents made an impact in terms of your share of the vote? Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could find evidence somewhere that a combination of enthusiastic candidates and electoral material could boost your vote by 20%?
And is there a lesson for all parties here, and not just Plaid?