Monthly Archives: Ebrill 2015

The Social Media Battle: Ynys Môn

It’s over-egging the pudding to suggest that 2015 is the year that digital media wins the UK election. But digital and social media are an increasingly influential aspect of campaigning. Any politicians – particularly at parliamentary level (Welsh and UK) who haven’t yet joined the masses are in serious danger of being left behind and rendered irrelevant.

So let’s check out how our protagonists, Albert Owen and John Rowlands are doing on social media.

Starting with Facebook, unless I’m very much mistaken, Albert Owen hasn’t actually got a Facebook presence, and therefore gets 0 out of 10. John Rowlands’ page is here; he’s got 290 likes, which is hardly setting the world on fire, but we all have to start somewhere. More importantly, there’s a fair bit of content being generated, with several posts a day (which is probably about right: too many and people get inundated and jaded). A solid 4 out of 10.

Turning to Twitter, Albert Owen has a pretty good following of 2,046. Albert’s tweeting fairly regularly (14 times per day according to Riffle), but I have to say that the content is – well – boring. We get the occasional weather observation, for example, and rather few images overall (and still fewer taken by Albert – does his phone have a camera?). Top tip for Albert, sometimes it’s better not to tweet than to tweet stuff that is inane.

There are some pretty neat tools out there that can analyse twitter feeds. So we learn that Albert does nearly a quarter of his daily tweets between 7 and 8am. And according to ‘My Top Tweet’, Albert’s most noteworthy tweets have been retweeted 28 times (2 tweets). Startlingly, at number 10 in Albert’s top tweets of all time is this effort, retweeted a grand total of 5 times. The median number of followers of people who follow Alberts is 378. Finally, is there something Albert’s not telling us? His top mentions are of @vaughan_wms, @hywelplaidcymru and @plaid_cymru.

Albert’s Klout score is 55. That means he gets 5.5 out of 10 for his twitter exploits. I haven’t been able to trace a google plus account for Albert, nor a LinkedIn account.

How’s John doing? Well, his following is just 438, which is pretty poor. But then he’s been on twitter less than a year, so let’s not be too harsh. His activity is largely retweets, which means he hasn’t really got the hang of it. But with a week to go, it’s probably not a bad strategy to be retweeting people who know what they’re doing. In John’s case, this is principally Rhun ap Iorwerth. John’s top tweets have been retweeted 18 and 14 times, which for someone who’s a novice isn’t bad. His top mentions are more aligned with his party than Albert: @plaid_cymru, @plaidcymrumon and @rhunapiorwerth. And interestingly, the median number of followers of people who themselves follow John is 429.5. That means that they have rather more clout than Albert’s followers.

John’s Klout score is a surprisingly high 47 – quite possibly because John’s twitter feed is being consumed by twitter users of a considerably higher tweet power.

John has a google plus account, although it’s clearly not being used at the moment, alongside a LinkedIn account with 420 connections (1/5  and 2/5 points for those).

Final score:

Albert 5.5/30

John 11.7/30

Rho sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Track Record: Albert Owen

I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:

  • Strongly in favour of an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
  • Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
  • Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
  • Strongly opposed to the NHS providing services to private patients
  • Moderately against introducing ID cards
  • Strongly opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail
  • Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
  • Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
  • Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
  • Strongly opposed to raising VAT
  • Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
  • Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
  • Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
  • Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
  • Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
  • Strongly in favour of a transparent UK Parliament
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what does Albert Owen’s voting record reveal about his activity over the past five years?

Well, on several of these issues, Albert is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. For example, unlike his Labour colleague Stephen Doughty, he voted in favour of more benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Albert:

  • Voted moderately in favour of wasting £100 billion on a relic of the Cold War (Trident)
  • Voted both for and against military aggression in foreign wars, and very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
  • Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
  • Voted for and against a transparent UK Parliament
  • Has voted a mixture of for and against more powers for Wales, but voted in favour of more powers for local councils

Let’s see how Albert’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Albert can’t decide whether or not he’s in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. He didn’t even turn up to the vote declaring war on Iraq in 2003. People dying in these conflicts are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Ynys Môn, which is one of the poorest places in the whole of the UK, and far and away the poorest in Wales (measured as GVA per capita). But when it comes to holding governments to account for their illegal wars, woah! The last thing Albert wants is a report highly likely to be most damaging to his Labour Party to be published just before the voters get to hold that party to account for it. After all, if you give these things enough time, people start to forget about them. The Chilcot report finished taking evidence in 2011.

He’s also gung ho for running down public services in favour of the most expensive weapons of mass destruction on the planet. That’s notwithstanding the fact that public opposition to renewing this Imperialist Viagra is resolute in opinion polls at both UK and local scales. “Bairns not bombs” as the Scottish independence campaign so eloquently put it.

Bizarrely, he’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Ynys Môn has several wards in which income levels are extremely low – most especially in Holyhead, which ironically is Albert’s home town.

He’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.

And he’s happy to keep Wales – and her branch secretary Carwyn Jones – on the Westminster leash. Carwyn has said that withholding powers on energy from Wales is “wrong in principle and wrong in probably every other way”. Might that be of interest to Albert Owen? Not a bit of it. Albert voted against the transfer of powers over energy to Wales. In fact, it surprises me that Albert was present at all to bother to vote against Wales’ national interests. After all, he only bothered to show up for 2 of the 10 key votes on transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.

You’d probably expect a record such as that for a puppy of the Labour party. He’s voted against his party a grand total of 8 times in 908 votes. But while he was happy to do down the Welsh people through voting against our interests or not bothering to turn up to vote, he was happy enough to transfer more powers to local councils.

For more information about John Rowlands, his main (Plaid) challenger for the seat of Ynys Môn, you can find his twitter feed here, his facebook account here and his LinkedIn account here.

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Track Record: Nia Griffith

I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:

  • Strongly in favour of an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
  • Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
  • Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
  • Strongly opposed to the NHS providing services to private patients
  • Moderately against introducing ID cards
  • Strongly opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail
  • Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
  • Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
  • Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
  • Strongly opposed to raising VAT
  • Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
  • Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
  • Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
  • Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
  • Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what does Nia Griffith’s voting record reveal about her activity over the past five years?

Well, on several of these issues, Nia is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Nia:

  • Voted moderately in favour of military aggression in foreign wars, and very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
  • Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
  • Has peculiarly voted in favour and against a wholly elected House of Lords
  • Has voted a mixture of for and against more powers for Wales

Let’s see how Nia’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Nia’s in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. The people dying are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Llanelli. But when it comes to holding governments to account for their illegal wars, woah! The last thing Nia wants is a report highly likely to be most damaging to her Labour Party to be published just before the voters get to hold that party to account for it. After all, if you give these things enough time, people start to forget about them. The Chilcot report finished taking evidence in 2011.

Bizarrely, she’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Llanelli has several wards in which income levels are extremely low.

She’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.

She has confused opinions in relation to democratising the second chamber of Parliament, despite the fact that it’s stuffed full of party donors, super-rich hereditary landowners and people who’ve been totally, unflinchingly loyal to their parties. People, in fact, like Nia (who has never rebelled against her party since the start of the 2010 parliament). Mind you, that level of toeing the party line comes naturally to Nia. In the 2005-2010 parliamentary session, she managed to rebel against Labour in a grand total of 6 votes out of 1,133.

And she’s happy to keep Wales – and her branch secretary Carwyn Jones – on the Westminster leash. Carwyn has said that withholding powers on energy from Wales is “wrong in principle and wrong in probably every other way”. Might that be of interest to Nia Griffith? Not a bit of it. Nia voted against the transfer of powers over energy to Wales. In fact, it surprises me that Nia was present at all to bother to vote against Wales’ national interests. After all, she was absent for 7 of the 10 key votes on transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.

For more information about Vaughan Williams, her main (Plaid) challenger for the seat of Llanelli, you can find his blog here, his twitter feed here, his facebook account here and his google plus here.

Rho sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Track Record: Stephen Doughty

I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:

  • Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
  • Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
  • Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
  • Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
  • Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
  • Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
  • Strongly opposed to raising VAT
  • Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
  • Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
  • Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
  • Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
  • Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what’s Stephen Doughty’s voting record reveal about his activity over the past two and a half years?

Well, on several of these issues, Stephen is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Stephen:

  • Voted strongly in favour of military aggression in foreign wars
  • Voted very strongly in favour of wasting £100 billion on a relic of the Cold War (Trident)
  • Has never bothered to vote on higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
  • Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
  • Has never bothered to vote on reform of the House of Lords
  • Voted very strongly in favour of more powers for Scotland – but only moderately for more powers for Wales

Let’s see how Stephen’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Stephen’s all in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. The people dying are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Cardiff South.

He’s also gung ho for running down public services in favour of the most expensive weapons of mass destruction on the planet. That’s notwithstanding the fact that public opposition to renewing this Imperialist Viagra is resolute in opinion polls at both UK and local scales. “Bairns not bombs” as the Scottish independence campaign so eloquently put it.

He doesn’t appear to care one way or the other if sick or disabled people get more money to help them cope with being unemployed and incapacitated. That’s despite some of the wards in the constituency in which he’s running reporting the highest levels of sickness and incapacity in Wales, let alone the UK. Presumably Stephen’s counting on remaining fit as a fiddle until drawing his pension.

Bizarrely, he’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. Again, the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Cardiff South is replete with wards in which income levels are extremely low.

He’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.

He has no interest in democratising the second chamber of Parliament, despite the fact that it’s stuffed full of party donors, super-rich hereditary landowners and people who’ve been totally, unflinchingly loyal to their parties. People, in fact, like Stephen (who has never rebelled against his party since being elected).

And he’s much more eager for Scotland to be granted further powers than he is for more powers to come to Wales. Far be it for me to suggest that narrow self-interest is a motive, but there are plenty of thinkers who suggest that greater transfer of powers to Wales will inevitably mean a reduction in the number of MPs.

Here’s Stephen’s latest election missive (with thanks to reader PW).

Update: Stephen has contested some of the claims of TheyWorkForYou.com. I’ll take any comments on board as soon as I have the opportunity, and update the post as necessary.

1 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Westminster

The kindergarten

Antoinette Sandbach’s recent elevation to candidate – and sure-fire next MP – for Eddisbury in Cheshire got me thinking. What is the party political make-up of politicians moving from the Senedd to the Commons or vice versa?

Many other commentators have pointed out that it’s implicit in the direction of the move what an individual politician regards as the greater prize. There are many possible motives. For starters, there’s the financial inducement – and I don’t just mean the £74,000 salary of an MP as compared to the poverty-stricken (£64,000 from 2016) AMs. Once at Westminster, there are apparently no end of ways to bend the rules so you can stuff your snout as far and as deep in the trough as Chris Bryant likes.

Presumably some people rather like the pomp and ceremony of Westminster, the feeling of glory associated with being a part of the greater legislative body. Even if you’re only a miniscule, irrelevant guest at the party.

Of course, some politicians feel that Westminster is little but dumb, cold walls against which to hit your head and hands.

So on to the list…

Conservative Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Glyn Davies (1999-2007); (2010-present) Glyn had a 3-year break from politics following his defeat in the 2007 election
  • Alun Cairns (1999-2011); (2010-present) Alun was ‘double-jobbing’ from 2010 to 2011, without drawing the AM salary
  • David Davies (1999-2007); (2005-present) David held Monmouth as an AM and MP for two years
  • Antoinette Sandbach (2011-present); (2015 on) Antoinette will rescind her list seat in the Assembly

Conservative Members (Commons to Senedd)

 

Labour Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Alun Michael (1999-2000); (1987-2012); Alun didn’t relinquish his Commons seat whilst First Secretary

Labour Members (Commons to Senedd)

  • Ron Davies (1983-2001); (1999-2003); Ron left Labour, joining first Forward Wales and then Plaid Cymru
  • Rhodri Morgan (1987-2001); (1999-2011)
  • John Marek (1983-2001); (1999-2007); John was deselected by Labour before the 2003 election but was elected as an independent. Since losing his seat he has joined the Conservatives.

Plaid Members (Commons to Senedd)

Other Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Peter Law (1999-2006); (2005-2006); Peter (a former Labour AM) was both MP and AM at the time of his death

This list isn’t quite as interesting as I’d imagined it would be. Perhaps that’s because I’ve missed some names off – do let me know if that’s the case. And there are some politicians who’ve swapped European seats for the green benches (Wayne David), and a fair few who’ve been tempted from the Assembly by the smell of ermine.

But at the very least it gives us a clear indication that the Conservatives are much more likely than the other parties to view Westminster as the ‘real’ Parliament, and the Senedd as the Kindergarten. The Lib Dems don’t appear on the list at all. Labour politicians have tended to gravitate to the Senedd, although the prize for the party that puts most emphasis on the Senedd goes to Plaid. That’s because a huge proportion of Plaid MPs who have ever sat in Westminster since the inauguration of the Welsh Parliament have shifted from London back to Wales. The exceptions are Elfyn Llwyd, Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams, who are all current MPs, and Adam Price, who has been selected as the candidate for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr in 2016‘s Assembly elections.

Should this surprise us? Not really. When it comes to the relative priority that the parties show towards the Welsh national interest, Plaid really are a light year ahead of the Unionist/British Nationalist parties.

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government, Westminster