Monthly Archives: Awst 2013

Penarth and Cardiff South: Labour

For those of you puzzled by my approach to this series of posts, it’s in alphabetical order. I’m putting the Communists with Socialist Labour and the Greens in ‘Other Parties’ at the end. Apologies to those whose sensibilities are grossly offended.

Labour will have felt pretty happy with themselves. My prediction was for Labour to get 48% and their actual result was 47.3%. Result!

This was clearly a seat that they were never going to lose. Even vindictive Labour bully Desmond Hughes would have been a shoe-in here. So let’s have a quick look at previous results and see how Stephen Doughty’s result and majority compare with others since the seat’s formation.

The margin of victory – 27.4% – ranks 3rd out of 8, which is pretty good going since James Callaghan only managed a 5.5% margin in his final election. Although some might find it amazing that Stephen wasn’t able to eclipse all of Alun Michael’s results, given:

I know of die-hard Labour supporters who either abstain or vote Labour with a peg on their nose and with gritted teeth because of Alun Michael.

And you’d hardly expect his majority of 5,334 to rank among the stunning majorities because – unsurprisingly for this wholly predictable solid Labour constituency – a pathetically small proportion of people (25.7%) could be bothered to drag themselves out of bed to vote. Mind you, we already know that voting for Westminster is meaningless in almost every election, so perhaps it’s the 25.7% who are the mugs. However Stephen did manage to get a bigger majority than Alun Michael in 2010 and 1987, and James Callaghan back in ’83.

So there’s not really an awful lot for us to learn from Labour’s result. A steady, not stellar performance in one of their safest seats.

Rho sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Westminster

Penarth and Cardiff South: Conservatives

Back in May I said that the series of posts on “Targets Seats in Wales” was relevant to Penarth. For those of you who’ve been hanging on waiting for the relevance, your patience is about to be rewarded. Here’s a series of posts examining the performance of the parties that contested the November by-election. So the Conservatives reaped a whopping 19.9% of the vote, coming in second place. I’d predicted they would get 24%, and explained the difference thus:

The Conservatives fared worse than envisaged by 4%. We can combine this with the surprisingly good performance of UKIP (2% better than foreseen) to suggest that UKIP captured more disaffected Conservative voters than I’d thought likely.

Still, the Conservative result was their worst ever in this seat since its creation in 1983. Let’s remember that in that election, the Conservatives were within 5.4% of taking the seat. And now that distance is 27.4%. How did the Conservative candidate respond? Craig Williams was “happy to get a strong second place”. Following that stunning piece of hyperbole, it would appear that he’s looking for more promising pastures, having been selected as their candidate for Cardiff North. Not that he’ll be the MP for that constituency come 2015 either, despite it being the number one target seat for the Conservatives:

Jonathan Evans has taken the coward’s way out having already seen the writing on the wall in Cardiff North

Where does Penarth and Cardiff South sit in the ranking of Target Seats in Wales: Conservatives? It wouldn’t surprise most people to discover that it’s not in the top 10. But it’s not far off, actually, at number 12. Since the Conservatives have 34 target seats in total, that makes it a seat that they need to win if they’re serious about becoming a major power in Wales.

Clearly the Conservatives are a long way from being a major power in Wales. But things are looking a whole lot worse for them all of a sudden. Because how the political landscape has changed! The Conservatives of Penarth and Cardiff South must be thanking their lucky stars the election was held a while before UKIP’s sudden burst of popularity cannibalising the right wing Conservative vote. It’s difficult to imagine following the Ynys Môn result that UKIP will be hovering around the deposit-losing stage in the next election.

So where do the Conservatives go from here? The answer is ‘nowhere’. And they know it – in the eight elections since the seat’s formation, they’ve had eight different candidates. Hardly a recipe for success from a consistently second-placed party. Their only real hope is for this constituency to be carved up should the bonfire of the constituencies be dragged back from the hole it was dumped into by their coalition friends.

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Westminster

Seizing Power in Cardiff Bay: Conservatives

It’s the holy grail of political parties to enjoy power. If you can do it alone, so much the better; the unpalatable compromise is to enter a coalition. In this series of posts I’ll be examining the scale of the challenge for each of the main political parties in seizing power in Wales.

Not just any old power. Full, complete majority power in the National Assembly for Wales. Easier for some than for others.

First let’s just recoup. The proportional element of our National Assembly elections was incorporated partially to make the electoral system more reflective of people’s voting patterns. But it was also there to make it impossible for any one party to wield majority control in Wales. But we’ve already seen from Scotland’s experience that the best-laid plans can fall apart.

What do the Conservatives have to do to win 31 seats in Cardiff Bay? This list is in order of the most likely to be held/fall first (see this post for the reasoning of the target seats). I’m going to make the assumption that they’ll need to do it in the absence of any regional/list seats – and you’ll see why from the complexion of the seats they need to win. The Conservatives’ worst-performing electoral region is South Wales West, but they still need to pick up three seats here in order to get a majority. It’s inconceivable that they’ll get list seats in this or any other region under those circumstances.

  1. Monmouth – held with 20.4% majority
  2. Clwyd West – held with 16.9% majority
  3. Montgomeryshire – held with 10.1% majority
  4. Preseli Pembrokeshire – held with 8.0% majority
  5. Aberconwy – held with 7.7% majority
  6. Carmarthenshire West & South Pembrokeshire – held with 5.3% majority
  7. Cardiff North – 5.2% behind 1st place
  8. Vale of Glamorgan – 11.4% behind
  9. Brecon & Radnorshire – 9.7% behind
  10. Delyn – 12.4% behind
  11. Vale of Clwyd – 17.4% behind
  12. Ynys Mon – 12.2% behind
  13. Newport West – 18.3% behind
  14. Clwyd South – 13.2% behind
  15. Gower – 18.2% behind
  16. Wrexham – 17.9% behind
  17. Cardiff West – 21.3% behind
  18. Penarth & Cardiff South – 22.8% behind
  19. Alyn & Deeside – 24.5% behind
  20. Swansea West – 21.3% behind
  21. Bridgend – 28.2% behind
  22. Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – 22.7% behind
  23. Dwyfor Meirionnydd – 26.2% behind
  24. Newport East – 27.7% behind
  25. Cardiff Central – 22.8% behind
  26. Torfaen – 31.4% behind
  27. Pontypridd – 35.1% behind
  28. Arfon – 44.2% behind
  29. Islwyn – 46.0% behind
  30. Swansea East – 43.8% behind
  31. Llanelli – 28.7% behind

So to get a full, working majority in the National Assembly the Conservatives will need to make a clean sweep of all constituency seats in the north Wales electoral region, along with capturing the seats of Labour former First Secretary Alun Michael (Penarth & Cardiff South), First Minister Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff West), current First Minister Carwyn Jones (Bridgend), and valleys seats such as Pontypridd, Torfaen and Islwyn, along with seats where they are as much as 44% behind the incumbent in terms of share of the vote.

It’ll need a seismic shift in the politics of Wales for this to happen. There are two possible scenarios which could see it happen.

First off, public opinion and politics in Wales could shift dramatically to the right of where it is in England. I don’t see that as being likely any time in the coming decades.

The other possible scenario is for the Conservative party in Wales to move much further to the left. The Conservative’s placement on the political spectrum (some way to the left of their friends in England) is partially responsible for the comparative electoral success they’ve enjoyed in Wales in recent elections. But to continue to move left the Conservatives would have to do several things:

  • Find an Assembly group leader other than Andrew RT Davies
  • Probably split from the UK party – or find some other means of reconciling the political ideologies
  • Play a very careful wicket in holding on to existing right-wing supporters in the light of new right-wing vote absorber UKIP

I find this a distinctly more plausible scenario than the political make-up of Wales veering wildly to the right. But to say that a split from the UK Conservatives is ‘more plausible’ than any other scenario indicates just how implausible an absolute majority is for the Conservatives.

Unless they become unlikely coalition partners, the Conservatives’ fate in Wales is permanent opposition.

Rho sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections

Ynys Môn

Pure and simple – here is where Ynys Môn ranks in each of the parties’ hit list (UKIP and the Socialist Labour Party excepted because they didn’t have a full slate of candidates in the last Welsh plebiscite):

So it would have been a massive disappointment for Plaid not to have taken this seat, given that it is their number one target in 2015. That they took it with such aplomb bodes rather well for some of their other target seats.

Labour’s disastrous result must be hugely worrying, not just for Albert Owen. If they can’t even take their 6th target seat (out of only 12, remember), and to lose in such style, then they stand no hope of winning the UK election in 2015. Too early to call it? I’m not so sure.

The Conservatives likewise took a hammering. And if they can’t win their number 6 target then they stand no chance of an overall majority in 2015. We’re looking straight at another hung parliament.

And the Lib Dems. Bless them, they’ve got 39 target seats and this was just number 23. To scrape just over 300 votes, come last, and have 16 seats where you’d expect them to do worse must be terrifying for all their AMs and MPs. Retrospectively, perhaps the coalition with the Conservatives wasn’t such a great idea after all.

3 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Socialist Labour Party, UKIP