It’s always good to be thinking ahead. And the next local authority elections are just round the corner, in 2017!
So what better way to prepare than to start the groundwork right now. Here is the start of a series of tips for the parties that contested the elections this year (and I’ve included the Independents too).
First off: the Green Party. The Green Party really needs to shake itself up in the Vale. As I reported here, there were just two Green candidates throughout the Vale, one of whom stood in Penarth. So what baffles me is why so few people are willing to stand in the name of the Greens when just next door in Cardiff there was a candidate in every ward. Even in Bridgend – not hitherto renowned as a hotbed of environmental activism – there were seven candidates.
The priority for the Greens is to increase representation substantially throughout the Vale, but especially in the urban wards where they stand more chance of getting a decent vote than in the rural wards that have a long tradition of Conservative Members.
Of course, making a repeat stand in St. Augustine’s is a must, but this should be extended with at least one candidate per ward right throughout Penarth. That way there’ll be more exposure in the press, online and on the street. So the challenge for the Greens: can they find four more people willing to stand in 2017? Or more likely, can they find two more (proposed boundary changes mean we’re going to be down to three multi-member wards in Penarth/Sully in 2017).
And their chances of electoral success? Close to nil. The only things that could increase their chance are
- Concerted campaigning and constituency work for the next 4 years. Clearly with their limited resources they’ll be best off focusing on the ward that shows most promise. That ward could be St. Augustine’s, where Anthony Slaughter reaped votes from 15% of voters in May, but it could equally be another ward. Happily there is a simple way to determine this in 2012 courtesy of the count for the Penarth and Cardiff South by-election. You will know in advance the numbers allocated to the ballot boxes for the different wards in Penarth. When those boxes are opened and the votes are totted up you allocate which party they’re voting for out of the first 100. That gives you a reasonable idea of the level of support for Greens (and all other parties) in general, on a percentage basis. Plus because it’s a relatively unimportant election(!) you’ll also get ‘soft Green’ votes who in a general election (Wales or UK) would be more likely to vote for one of the big four. Hey presto! The ward with the highest support for Greens in this election is the one you prioritise over the next 4 years.
- Election of a Green Assembly Member in 2016. In 2011 the Greens came in 6th place in the regional list vote with 3.4%, slightly less than in 2007 and in 2003. This rather dismal track record suggests they are making no progress across Wales. However in the south Wales central region they came 5th in 2011 with 5.2% of the vote – a marked increase on their 6th place 2007 result of 3.8% and 6th place in 2003 with 3.3%. If it’s going to happen anywhere, this region is the place, and the way they do it is to overtake the Lib Dems to come 4th. In 2011 the Lib Dems only secured 7.9% of the vote, but this was at a particularly bad political time for the Liberal Democrats. So I’m placing this in the ‘rather unlikely’ bracket.
- Environmental catastrophe. Considerably more likely than electing a Green AM in 2016 is that that election will be preceded by environmental catastrophe. A glimpse at the level of Arctic sea ice should be enough to convince you of the reality of rapid climate change. And if not, have a read of Bill McKibben’s stunning and terrifying Rolling Stone article. Meanwhile governments worldwide stand around idle. And performance in Wales? In the last year for which data is available, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 8%. We can all hope it’s not going to happen. But if you’re not just about to croak, environmental disaster is coming in all of our lifetimes.