Tag Archives: Alun Michael

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.

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1 Sylw

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

Seizing Power in Cardiff Bay: Labour

For the other parties, this is a theoretical exercise. For Labour, it should be reality.

To get a better view on the Labour party’s grip on power in Wales, Roger Scully’s analysis is second to none. Just for the record, Labour has achieved the following number of seats in National Assembly elections:

  • 1999 – 28 seats
  • 2003 – 30 seats
  • 2007 – 26 seats
  • 2011 – 30 seats

Having half the seats isn’t enough in the power game. To truly wield power you need 50% +1 seat, or 31 seats. In 2003 and 2011 alike Labour’s failure to grab the critical additional seat meant governing in a minority administration, and therefore needing to secure a vote from at least one opposition Member in order to win crucial votes (such as approving the annual budget and votes of no confidence).

So how does Labour go about getting 31 seats? Read on.

The most straightforward way is to win 31 constituency seats. In 2003 Labour won 30 constituencies, but in 2011 they took 28 constituency seats, receiving 2 compensatory seats in mid and west Wales courtesy of d’Hondt. The missing constituencies this time around are Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Given that they also hold Ynys Môn at Westminster, perhaps these three seats are the targets?

Almost.

In order to win absolute power, Labour must take Preseli Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, and a seat that has eluded them thus far: Carmarthen East & Dinefwr. Ok – so that’s what the stats say. What does reality think?

Angela Burns has a reasonable (5.4%) majority in Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Not unassailable by any stretch, although much less marginal than her 0.3% majority in 2007. Labour will certainly be eyeing up this seat for 2016. Paul Davies meanwhile has quite a grip on Preseli Pembrokeshire for the Conservatives (8.0%). It will be a tough task for Labour to regain. Labour’s additional problem is that both these seats are in mid and west Wales electoral region. Winning either of them will deny Rebecca Evans or Joyce Watson their seats in the Senedd.

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr would be more of a challenge under normal circumstances. Plaid have a 14.9% majority. And the circumstances are anything but normal, with the prodigal son returning in the high probability of becoming a professional politician again.

So let’s look to greener pastures. A seat in an electoral region where Labour don’t stand to lose any seats through winning a new constituency. There can only be one electoral region to target. South Wales West and Central are clean sweeps for Labour, so it’s simply a case of holding the line (no-one mention Rhondda at this point). And Monmouth is the only non-Labour seat in South Wales East. Nick Ramsay will be difficult to dislodge. The pickings are definitely richer in the north.

There are two obvious contenders here, and one less so because Clwyd West is wholly unlikely to fall to Labour. Darren Millar has made this seat his own, following Alun Pugh’s losing performance in 2007. Aberconwy, meanwhile, is the most promising seat for Labour. They’re 8.3% off the pace in a three-way tussle for supremacy. But there’s real potential here, not least because a reasonable proportion of the 14.2% share of the vote garnered by the Lib Dems in 2011 could be up for grabs with the right overtures. Put a decent UKIP performance into the mix, wresting votes from Janet Finch-Saunders, and this seat suddenly looks like a decent bet.

And the other obvious contender? Ynys Môn. How a party can hold a seat at Westminster, with a majority that has increased in each of the last 2 elections to 7.1% now, and yet be 42.3% off the pace in Cardiff Bay is beyond me. Labour should have thrown everything at the August by-election for the prize of an outright majority. They have 30 full-time politicians at the National Assembly, alongside their 28 MPs from Wales. But a glance at the twitter feed of Labour4YnysMon reveals the absence of a swathe of even local (north Wales) Labour politicians from the fray: Sandy Mewies, Carl Sargeant, David Hanson, Susan Elan Jones, Chris Ruane, Mark Tami, Lesley Griffiths…

Could it have been the Michael effect? And if so, does that have implications for Aberconwy in 2015?

Or does it reflect a lack of hunger by the party of government?

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Welsh Government

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.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections

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.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, 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.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections

I agree with Alun

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been critical of Alun Michael in the past.

But today he said something rather sensible:

People don’t want people on the beat just for the sake of seeing them,” he argued.

“The public are more sophisticated than just asking for bobbies on the beat.

“What they want is to know that the police are there when they need them, that they are tackling their priorities and that they respond quickly when they need to ask the police to deal with an incident or events.

I couldn’t agree more. I think the public is more sophisticated than just asking for bobbies on the beat in an impotent show of publicity.

So perhaps Alun should have a few quiet words with this guy, who has said recently:

Local people are really feeling the effects of cuts to services and numbers of local police on the street…

My pledge to you: Keep police on the beat

Clearly he doesn’t think the public in Penarth and Cardiff South is very sophisticated.

 

2 Sylw

Filed under Labour, Police

The Count

No, not this one.

Penarth and Cardiff South

  • Stephen Doughty – Labour –         9,193 – 47.3%
  • Craig Williams – Conservative –    3,859 – 19.9%
  • Bablin Molik – Lib Dem –                  2,103 – 10.8%
  • Luke Nicholas – Plaid –                      1,854 –   9.5%
  • Simon Zeigler – UKIP –                      1,179 –   6.1%
  • Anthony Slaughter – Green –              800 –   4.1%
  • Andrew Jordan – Socialist Labour – 235 –   1.2%
  • Robert Griffiths – Communist –          213 –   1.1%

Turnout was 25.35%.

Really, they could have done without the expense and hassle! But I’ll be chewing over what this means for the various party in the months to come.

Oh, and before I forget, there was another election yesterday. Here are the results:

Round One

  • Michael Baker – Independent –    42,264 – 32.5%
  • Caroline Jones – Conservative –   20,913 – 14.7%
  • Alun Michael – Labour –                  66,879 – 47.0%
  • Tony Verderame – Independent – 8,378 –    5.9%

No candidate polled more than 50% of the votes, so the count moved to:

Round Two (totals now including second preference votes)

  • Michael Baker – Independent – 60,784 – 45.6%
  • Alun Michael – Labour –               72,751 – 54.4%

9 Sylw

Filed under Communist Party, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Socialist Labour Party, Welsh Government, Westminster