Category Archives: Liberal Democrats

Carwyn Jones – Mr Anonymous

There was a time when Carwyn Jones was regarded as an asset to the Labour Party in Wales. Regard the party political broadcast for the 2011 election which was basically the Carwyn show. And who could overlook the analyses by Roger Scully, which for some reason use polling data, rather than the revolutionary new method we’re about to reveal. Roger noted in December 2014 that:

Carwyn Jones remains by some way the most popular party leader in Wales

Let’s consider that Carwyn has been First Minister since December 2009, a full six years. That would be a decent length of time for someone to make their mark. But I get the feeling that Carwyn’s star has fallen a long way since its ascendency in 2011. Perhaps he’s taken everything (and everyone) for granted for so long that people just don’t care about him – or his opinion – any more. I’d be astonished if Carwyn gets the airtime in this election that he enjoyed in party political broadcasts last election. What leads to this radical conclusion?

It’s the New Year Twitter test.

As First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones’ new year message of good will was retweeted a grand total of 4 times (up to the end of 4 January), one of whom is a candidate in the coming election, and another Wayne David, MP for Caerffili. To be fair, his Welsh language version was retweeted 5 times. But two of these had already retweeted the English language version. Grand total? 7 retweets.

How did other First and Prime Ministers do?  Nicola Sturgeon only managed 419 retweets. Pathetic really for someone who’s been in post a shade over one year. David Cameron managed 1,300 for the cheesy ‘Happy New Year’ tweet, with a more modest 363 for his actual message.

How about the other party leaders in Wales? Kirsty Williams didn’t get a single retweet for her message, Andrew RT Davies netted 12 retweets, Alice Hooker Stroud got 7 (not bad for a month’s tenure!) and Leanne Wood achieved 34.

But we’re not really comparing like with like. It’s hardly a fair contest to pit opposition leaders – of varying tenure – against the profile of someone who until recently was Wales’ most popular party leader. Nor is it fair to pit the leaders of England and Scotland – both much bigger countries – against that of Wales. So here goes, with a quick look at some equivalent leaders.

  • Panama – population 3.8 million – President Juan Carlos Varela 158 retweets
  • Jamaica – population 2.7 million – Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller 11 retweets (great message, by the way… “May 2016 see your dreams come true. May you shine as never before, believe as never before and soar as never before”)
  • Macedonia – population 2.1 million – Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski 19 retweets

To be fair, there are plenty of mid-size countries whose leaders aren’t on twitter or didn’t bother with a new year’s greeting. My personal favourite is the Prime Minister of Lebanon, who clearly hasn’t managed his settings to avoid every post he makes on Facebook appearing in his twitter feed.

But there’s a bit more of a serious point here. If the First Minister of Wales can’t get a single elected politician in Wales other than Wayne David to retweet his new year message, maybe it’s not just the plebs who are losing faith in Carwyn. Perhaps the rot has set in within his own party.

By the time 2016’s out, there’s going to be another leader of the Labour Party in Wales, which of course means a new First Minister.

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3 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

The Price of Dependence

We already know the cost of dependence. Or at least, we don’t know the exact cost, but we do know that our dependence on the UK state costs us untold billions.

Every which way, the people of Wales are getting shafted.

But what price do we pay for our dependence?

Something of that nature was revealed by Andy Burnham a few weeks ago:

I conducted the last spending review of the last Labour government and I looked in detail at the Barnett formula, and concluded that it wasn’t fair to Wales and there would need to be changes to it to ensure a much fairer funding settlement… I believe Wales has been short-changed.

As Cai Larsen points out, this means that the Labour Party has known since 2007 that Wales is underfunded. Of course, it’s an open secret that everyone has known for donkeys’ years that Wales has been underfunded. But here’s the first open acknowledgement by a serving Minister, and one in the Treasury at that, that his party has known.

And the Labour Party, during its tenure of the UK Government after 2007, did precisely nothing to secure fair funding for Wales. So that’s at least £300 million per year (some say £540 million) every year since 2007 that the people of Wales have paid the rest of the UK, via the Labour Party, for our pathetic obedience to our Labour masters.

But of course, if Andy Burnham knew about it in 2007, then there’s no way his successors in the Treasury could have been ignorant of our underfunding. So the Lib Dems and Conservatives, from 2010 to 2015, and the Conservatives going solo since May, have been totally complicit in this asset-stripping of Wales.

The price we pay for praying at the altar of unionism is likely to be somewhere in the region of £400 million per year. This is when we start to realise that we’re not just having a fun political kickabout. We’re talking about people’s lives.

£400 million a year goes a very long way. Over the last 8 years, that would have meant a cash injection of £3.2 billion into Welsh public services. So let’s not pull our punches. People have died in Wales because Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians have conspired to funnel money rightfully destined for Wales’ NHS elsewhere. The life chances of our children are directly damaged because our education system is underfunded as a result of Unionist largesse on the establishment. Our arts and cultural services that bring joy and delight to our lives are being pared to the bone because Unionists consider Wales to be a political irrelevance.

So the next time someone like Baroness Jenny Randerson busily tries to convince the people of Wales that we’re doing just fine and dandy, thanks to Barnett, notch it up as another Unionist lie.

And commit to never vote for a Unionist party again.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Education, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Labour’s Choice

Wales is one of the poorest countries in western Europe. That’s Labour’s choice.

Wales is the poorest constituent country of the UK, by a considerable margin. That is a choice made by the Labour party.

We are kept poor because there are other priorities than Wales for Labour. In fact, Wales is close to the bottom of the priority list.

Thus it will always be.

So where’s the evidence for these outrageous statements? You don’t have to look further than this document. It’s the Labour manifesto, of course. Wales gets less than half a page of this manifesto. Page 65, by the way. That’s where the scintillating “all-Wales policing plan” gets an airing.

“This is all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t prove that Labour chooses to keep Wales poor”, I hear you say.

Political parties make policies that distribute opportunities and wealth around the UK. Is it random chance that greater London’s GVA per capita is £40,000 while Wales’ is £16,900? Of course it’s not. Political parties have, over a period of many decades, made policies that promote high-income jobs in London (and to a lesser extent in south-east England, east England, Scotland etc) and to hell with Wales.

Policies like locating the highest-earning civil servants in London – for centuries – and chucking a few crumbs to the provinces. Policies like subsidising – via Welsh taxpayers’ money – massive redevelopment of east London, extravagant new transport schemes and the like. Policies like vacuuming cash from low-earners (of which a much higher proportion live in Wales) via VAT and council tax and tossing it away on vanity schemes like national ID cards and Trident (you’ll find that on page 78 of the Labour manifesto, although they call it a “continuous at-sea deterrent”, presumably to try to throw people off the scent).

How could it be otherwise? London has 73 MPs, Wales has 40. One-fifth of Labour membership is in London, 31% in London plus south-east England. 6% of its membership is in Wales. There are 34 constituency Labour parties in London with membership greater than 500. There is not one in the whole of Wales.

This negligence of Wales isn’t restricted to the Labour party, of course. The Conservatives couldn’t give two hoots about us either. You want proof? How about David Cameron’s whirlwind trip to the Celtic fringe this past week. In Wales, he visited a brewery in Gower. His visit to Scotland was more like a visit to an independent country’s prime minister, reported in every broadsheet. What a stunning snub to Carwyn Jones, poor dab.

The big difference is that Labour pretends to stand up for Wales. The Conservatives have never pretended to.

So Wales is poor because the Labour, Conservative and (most recently) Liberal Democrat parties choose it to be so. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Independence, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Westminster

The Social Media Battle: Ceredigion

Synopsis: Mike Parker edging ahead of his LibDem rival

In the Ceredigion Facebook dual, Mark has 2,461 likes. It looks pretty engaging stuff – decent images, lots of local stories and so on. That’s reflected in the Likealyzer score of 81. Mark averages 49 interactions per post, but has a response rate to people of just 26%. Still, you can’t argue with the stats. 8.1 marks for Mark.

Mike’s site has gathered 1,567 likes. Given that Mark’s been an MP for 10 years, Mike’s total is pretty good in comparison. Mike’s content is focused on policies rather than engagement. Presumably that’s because he leaves his engagement principally for twitter? Mike gets 89 interactions per post, and a response rate of only 3%. See previous sentence. But despite having fewer likes and poor response rate, Mike’s Likealyzer score is 85. Way to go.

Let’s have a look at the Twitter battle. Mark’s following is 4,810, which is pretty good by the standards of politicians in Wales (bearing in mind that the Deryn graphic is 18 months old). But fascinatingly, just 301 of them are from Ceredigion. 654 are from Cardiff and 832 from London. The median number of followers of Mark’s followers is 321. And the two most frequently named places in the ‘location’ field of Mark’s followers are “UK” and “London”. Ceredigion – since you ask – is 7th in the list. Mark tweets 6 times per day (Riffle), and it’s mainly images of various groups of people (largely the same people, looking at them) taking selfies or chowing down on food. Which is fine if you’re on holiday, but not really engaging in a political sense. Mark’s top mentions (from Riffle) are @nuswales (could it be he’s looking towards the student vote?!), @youtube and @kirsty_williams. No place for Nick Clegg in there. Just three of Mark’s tweets have been retweeted more than 20 times, with a top mark of 40. Mark has a Klout score of 59 – although with just 6% of his followers being geographically eligible to vote for him, a lot of that Klout is misdirected. Mark’s not on LinkedIn nor google plus.

Mike has 2,485 followers, with 167 from Ceredigion. I suspected that Mike uses twitter to engage, and boy was I right. A very, very high proportion of his tweets are ‘contact’ tweets – conversations with people. Ceredigion is 8th on Mike’s list of ‘location’ for followers, but instead of UK and London, Mike’s two first-placed locations are “Wales” and “Aberystwyth”. These followers are likely to be considerably more useful to Mike than his London-based fans will be to Mark, and the median following of Mike’s followers is 343 – slightly better than Mark. Mike’s tweeting 12 times per day, including the entertaining ‘canvassing competition’. It’s an altogether more engaging fayre than the offer from his rival. Intriguingly, Mike’s top mention is also @nuswales, with @plaidcymru and @penrijames following. Although given that the official party account is @plaid_cymru then either Riffle or Mike is getting unstuck. His top tweet has been retweeted a whopping 708 times, with an additional five gathering more than 20 retweets. Mike’s Klout score is 58, and with a shade under 7% of his followers based in Ceredigion he’s hitting a marginally higher proportion of potential constituents (but fewer in absolute terms). Mike doesn’t appear to be on LinkedIn or google plus.

So the verdict is a nail-biting:

Mark 14.0/30

Mike 14.3/30

1 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

How Long is One Generation?

It came to light recently that the Labour Party in Wales is moving towards the devolution of further powers to Wales. The nature of the offer is covered in more detail elsewhere, but one thought on Owen Smith’s comments got me digging through the archives.

Mr Smith – Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, no less – is quoted as saying:

While devolution will evolve we are getting closer to the end game

Servini

I wonder how much he knows about the history of Labour Party activity in this area?

It was the blink of an eye in political terms when someone else – as it happens, someone mentioned in Nick Servini’s immediately preceding tweet – expressed a firm opinion about the state of devolution in Wales:

The Welsh Assembly will not need further devolution for another generation… Whatever changing circumstances we face over coming years there will be no case for a successor Government of Wales [Act] in the decades to come

The omission of the word [Act] from the quote might have been a slip of the tongue. Or he might have been quite serious that no Government of Wales other than the one in place in 2006 (Labour) has a place in Wales regardless of “changing circumstances”.

Anyway, Peter might want to try explaining the futility of his work to Paul Silk, and of course to the Liberal Democrats who wrought the Silk Commission as part of the coalition agreement with the Conservatives.

Of course, Peter Hain’s got a great track record in political fortune telling. After all, he did tell us that the 2011 referendum bestowing primary legislative powers on the National Assembly for Wales couldn’t be won under:

any [foreseeable] circumstances

I suppose in one respect Owen Smith is correct. After all, any further devolution of powers is closer to the end-game if the end is federation, independence or ‘more devolution’.

Which of these comes under Owen Smith’s definition of foreseeable circumstances?

Update: It turns out we have a new definition of the length of a generation. While Peter Hain defines a generation as 8 years, Paul Silk has defined it as 25 years. Hands up who thinks the devolution offerings in Silk will bring “stability for a generation – 25 years”?

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Welsh Government, Westminster

The Plaid-Lib Dem Minority Administration

Forgive me for mining this seam to its very end. Because there is at least this one more interpretation to Adam Price’s contention that Plaid and the Lib Dems could form the next government: the Minority Administration.

It’s currently unthinkable that Labour would band together with the Conservatives to frustrate a potential Plaid-Lib Dem coalition – despite amusing reference to at least one local authority configuration as a ‘Nazi-Soviet pact’.

So in order to form a minority administration, the maths tells us that:

  • Total seats under consideration = 60 – Conservatives
  • And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that the Conservatives gain an identical number of seats in 2016 as in 2011: 14. That’s unlikely, and we’ll examine the implications below. But were that the case, it would leave 46 seats up for grabs. And that would mean the Plaid-Lib Dem coalition would need 24 seats between them. Perhaps we’re starting to enter the realm of possibility rather than fantasy?

I’m going to make the same assumption as in the previous post for the Lib Dems, namely that they’ll bag six seats. That means that Plaid would need 18.

So the first task is to assume that all 18 would need to come from constituencies. That feat would see them ripping seats such as Swansea West, Wrexham, Cynon Valley and, yes, Rhondda, from Labour. Perhaps Plaid could more realistically expect seats such as Islwyn and Torfaen to fall than Wrexham and Clwyd South. And if we were to delve into the detail, we’d realise that Plaid would have to take seats almost exclusively from Labour, rather than the Conservatives in Clwyd West and Preseli Pembrokeshire. That’s the result of each seat lost by Conservatives ironically making it more difficult to form a minority administration, because according to the formula, the Conservative bloc reduces the number of seats required by Plaid-Lib Dem.

On that assumption, Plaid would need the following 18 constituencies:

  1. Ynys Môn – held with 42.3% majority
  2. Arfon – held with 30.5% majority
  3. Dwyfor Meirionnydd – held with 26.1% majority
  4. Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – held with 14.9% majority
  5. Ceredigion – held with 6.1% majority
  6. Llanelli – 0.3% behind 1st place
  7. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire – 6.2% behind
  8. Caerphilly – 19.3% behind
  9. Aberconwy – 7.7% behind
  10. Neath – 26.8% behind
  11. Clwyd South – 23.8% behind
  12. Cardiff West – 27.1% behind
  13. Rhondda – 33.7% behind
  14. Cynon Valley – 34.8% behind
  15. Swansea West – 31.4% behind
  16. Islwyn – 36.2% behind
  17. Torfaen – 34.0% behind
  18. Pontypridd – 37.3% behind

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that in this scenario Plaid are scooping two constituencies each in South Wales East and South Wales West, which at a stretch could permit a regional seat in one or both. However, Plaid have also reduced the Conservatives’ constituencies by two, which means the total needed for the minority administration will be 25, which in turn brings one seat from the following into the mix: Montgomeryshire, Cardiff Central, Vale of Glamorgan, Gower, Ogmore or Penarth & Cardiff Central. Who said this was going to be easy?!

This minority administration is the only vaguely feasible scenario in which Labour will not be forming the next government. And ‘vaguely feasible’, in this analysis, has ignored the increasing likelihood of UKIP reaping list seats (five, according to Roger Scully). Although it’s too early to be making space for UKIP in these analyses, any new formula would look like this:

  • Total seats under consideration = 60 – (Conservatives + UKIP)
  • And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1

The minority report for Adam Price and his team just got harder.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

The Plaid-Lib Dem Coalition

It came to me during the previous post that Adam Price is much better informed about politics than myself. That means that he must consider it a possibility of some sort that Plaid will be able to lead a Plaid-Lib Dem coalition in Cardiff Bay.

Let’s look at the stats.

Many commentators expect the Lib Dems to receive a kicking in 2015, with even some Lib Dems forecasting grim news. But by 2016 – assuming  they’re not in government in Westminster – it’s entirely possible that their prospects will have improved. A year is a very long time in politics.

Looking back at the Lib Dem target seats we can see that they have just three seats that are winnable on a swing of 10% or less. Unfortunately for them, those three need a swing from three different parties. And given that Plaid – in this scenario – will need to win lots of seats, I’ll discount Ceredigion. That would mean they’d gain Cardiff Central and Montgomeryshire, but at least one of these, if not both, would rip a list seat from out of their grasp. Given that they are at least 20% behind first place in every other seat, I’m going to assume that the maximum coalition contribution from the Lib Dems is their traditional high-water mark of six seats.

That leaves the simple task for Plaid to take 25 seats.

The maths isn’t great in this scenario. Firstly, both Montgomeryshire and Cardiff Central are within Plaid’s 25 top constituencies. That would push the seats needed up to numbers 26 and 27: Gower, and Penarth & Cardiff South. Secondly, there is still no chance of list seats being available for Plaid, because they’re still looking for at least three seats in South Wales East. The question to ask, therefore, is: is it likely that Plaid will win seats such as Penarth & Cardiff South while not both:

  • Picking up Montgomeryshire and Cardiff Central, and
  • Damaging the Lib Dem vote sufficiently to erode their list seat potential, bearing in mind that for Plaid to have this level of dominance, Labour will presumably be heavily dependent on list seats for representation

The logical conclusion is that the Lib Dems are unlikely to be in a position to be useful coalition partners. Plaid stand almost as much chance of outright victory as they do of leading a coalition with the Lib Dems.

So was Adam’s gesture a way of reaching out to disaffected Lib Dem voters, rather than a realistic, calculated scenario?

1 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government