Tag Archives: Albert Owen

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

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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.

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

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.

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

Target Seats in Wales: Plaid

Plaid Cymru’s situation throws up a series of interesting findings. For the other parties, there was by and large a clear correlation: those seats where the party does well in share of the vote are those where it is relatively close to the incumbent party. For Plaid there are a slew of seats where they pick up a decent share of the vote (ten seats they don’t hold with 20% of the vote or more) but are way behind the victorious party. The reason is, of course, the Labour hegemony in south Wales.

So here are the stats for those keenest amongst us.

Plaid already hold: Arfon, Carmarthenshire East & Dinefwr, Ceredigion, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Ynys Môn.

And here’s the top 10, in order, of seats that Plaid will be eyeing up in 2015:

  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West
  • Rhondda
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire

This gives us an indication of the scale of the challenge facing Leanne Wood in her decision to contest Rhondda in 2016. The reason it’s only the 9th-best prospect is because Plaid were a massive 34% behind the first-placed party in the last poll, despite recording nearly 30% of the vote themselves. It’s a mountain to climb. People talk in awe about Alex Salmond’s astounding capture of Gordon in 2007. That required an increase in the share of the vote of merely 19%. Leanne needs an increase of 35%. Such a result would be spectacular and – excepting Brent East (itself a special case) – unprecedented.

Should Labour be complacent? The stats tell us a bit more of the story. Leighton Andrews’ 12,650 votes were only 1,400 more than Wayne David’s in 1999 – and would not have been enough to deny Geraint Davies from taking Rhondda in 1999. In that first Assembly election turnout was 50.2%; turnout in the last Assembly election was just 38%. It seems to suggest that when there’s an interesting political contest, turnout is boosted. And history suggests that the boost in turnout benefits one party more than any other.

Enough of Rhondda. Because we need to take account of the fact that Plaid don’t hold the same constituencies in both Parliaments, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn arrive at the top of the list, pushing Rhondda to 11th spot. Our list now looks like:

  • Ynys Môn
  • Ceredigion
  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West

It’s no surprise to see Ynys Môn at the top of the list. Following Plaid’s recent success in the local elections, and with Ieuan Wyn Jones announcing his resignation today, Plaid would be in pretty poor shape to lose the seat at the upcoming by-election. Expect lots of visits to the island from Peter Hain and other Labour big guns, and a non-stop discussion of Plaid’s uncomfortable position on nuclear. Following by-election success, Ynys Môn is clearly a major target for Plaid in 2015, with Albert Owen’s majority of under 2,500. Ieuan Wyn as the candidate, perhaps?!

Ceredigion has become a much more interesting contest with the selection of Mike Parker as candidate for Plaid. Mike is one of the most interesting candidates Plaid could have picked for this constituency. Erudite, English and engaging. Someone who can fire people’s imagination.

I said previously that Mark Williams would be “firmly in control of the seat for 2015”. Suddenly I’m not so sure. Let’s remember that Cynog Dafis pulled in an additional 8,200 votes to take Ceredigion for Plaid in 1992. And Mark’s majority? 8,300. Hold onto your hats!

Llanelli looks distinctly less achievable for Plaid in the UK election than at the Welsh election. Nia Griffith commands a 4,500 majority, and although that was reduced at the 2010 election, it was a poor election for Labour in general. And given that the totemic Ron Davies couldn’t take Caerphilly in an Assembly election that is always more benign for the Party of Wales, it’s not likely to fall in 2015. 

In the face of a Labour party expected to improve on its 2010 performance – although not spectacularly, given Ed Miliband’s struggling leadership – most of the rest of the top 10 look challenging. Add in the UK context under which UK elections are (unsurprisingly) fought, alongside the London-centric bias of the broadcast and print media, and the picture looks tough for gains of more than one seat. Holding onto Arfon will be enough to keep the troops busy between now and 2015.

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

Target Seats in Wales: Labour

We’ve already seen where the Conservatives will be focusing their efforts. Instead of hoping to stretch their influence in Wales, they’ll be desperately attempting to stem the tide. And even if UKIP aren’t going to make the same inroads in Wales as they’re likely to do in England, the influence of another right-wing party pulling votes from Conservatives is all the more reason to write off Conservative chances of any gains. So which of those Conservative seats will Labour be sniffing around and pouring resources into? It’s time to do the stats.

Labour already holds most of the constituencies in Wales at the National Assembly: Aberavon, Alyn & Deeside, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff Central, Cardiff North, Penarth & Cardiff South, Cardiff West, Clwyd South, Cynon Valley, Delyn, Gower, Islwyn, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, Neath, Newport East, Newport West, Ogmore, Pontypridd, Rhondda, Swansea East, Swansea West, Vale of Clwyd, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham

That means that there are only two seats that don’t make it into the top 10 (for completeness see here). And those top 10 target seats in order of ‘best contender for a challenge’?:

  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Monmouth
  • Ynys Mon
  • Arfon
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
  • Montgomeryshire

My theoretical model has taken a slight hit. Ynys Môn (6th target in this analysis) is already held by Labour’s Albert Owen – and has been since 2001. And there are three seats currently held by Labour in the Assembly that they don’t hold at Westminster: Cardiff Central, Cardiff North and the Vale of Glamorgan. Clearly those three seats are going to insert themselves at the top of my list, and Ynys Mon is going to drop off. So let’s re-jig it a bit:

  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Cardiff North
  • Cardiff Central
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Monmouth
  • Arfon

It turns out that the Labour Party has done their own wish-list for 2015, and they’re gunning for 8 seats. How do they fit in with my assessment?

Well, they’ve plumped for numbers 1-7 and 10 in my version. Why they think that Clwyd West and Monmouth are impregnable is beyond me, particularly with the entertainment that UKIP is likely to throw into the mix, although Hywel Williams is probably up for a jumpy night in Arfon  despite coming in at number 10 in the Penarth a’r Byd listing. As for the others, the Vale of Glamorgan should be winnable if Labour can select a candidate more credible than their 2010 disaster, Jonathan Evans has taken the coward’s way out having already seen the writing on the wall in Cardiff North, and despite a sizeable majority Jenny Willott has got her work cut out over the next 2 years to cling on to Cardiff Central (BlogMenai thinks it’s certain to fall). Simon Hart in Carmarthen West/South Pembs is vulnerable. However even with the UKIP factor Aberconwy and Preseli Pembrokeshire are rather unlikely to turn red unless it’s a landslide, and with opinion polls saying that Ed Miliband has little credibility as potential Prime Minister I think we can rule out a huge victory for Labour. Jonathan Edwards is looking a safe bet to retain Carmarthen East/Dinefwr for Plaid.

Finally, let’s just remember that since Labour already hold 26 of the 40 Welsh seats at Westminster, some of the ‘top 10’ are likely to be much more challenging – all things being equal – than the ‘top 10’ of the other parties, because with seat number 10 you’re actually looking at the 5th least winnable seat.

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Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Westminster