Tag Archives: Craig Williams

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

How did Penarth a’r Byd Do?

After a bit of a break, it’s back to the analysis. So how did Penarth a’r Byd do?

Candidate Party Votes Percentage Percentage
Actual Estimation
Stephen Doughty Labour 9,193 47.3 48
Craig Williams Conservative 3,859 19.9 24
Bablin Molik Lib Dem 2,103 10.8 9
Luke Nicholas Plaid 1,854 9.5 12
Simon Zeigler UKIP 1,179 6.1 4
Anthony Slaughter Green 800 4.1 1
Andrew Jordan Socialist Labour 235 1.2 1
Robert Griffiths Communist 213 1.1 1


Let’s start with the ones I got right: more or less spot-on with Labour, Socialist Labour and Communist (although I actually said less than 1% for the latter two).

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.

The Lib Dems managed 2% more than I’d given them credit for, and Plaid a shade over 2% less, which accounts for them trading places in the final run-in.

And the Greens got rather close to retaining their deposit, with their highest ever result in this constituency, 3% more than I’d thought likely.

So overall I’m fairly pleased with the predictions. I’ll be looking at what the results mean for the different parties in the coming months.

The other thing I’m moderately pleased about is my attempt to get candidates to send their electoral material, using  the carrot of an electoral address. Only two candidates declined the invitation to take part, while the tardiness of two others in complying with the terms and conditions meant they received a much shorter publication window.

But for the four quickest off the mark – Plaid, Greens, Labour and Socialist Labour – it’s hats off for your commitment to democracy.

The plus side of this type of deal is that instead of relying on you, dear readers and contributors, the pamphlets come straight from the aspiring politicians.

The downside is that once their electoral address is published, the candidates’ commitment to complying with the terms became ropy or even non-existent. I’m looking at you, Mr MP.

But I think it’s a good, workable model for the future – here’s to the next election!

Finally, it’s worth confessing that Penarth a’r Byd became overwhelmed by electoral literature and in the end although we published a critique of most of them, we couldn’t do them all.

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Filed under Democracy, Elections, Westminster

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%

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

At the Brink of Bankruptcy

And so to the last leaflet that I have time to review, from the Conservatives (courtesy of AW). And perhaps they’ve finally learned that exporting jobs to rich Tory constituencies at the same time as claiming to be fighting for local businesses doesn’t go down terribly well, because this one comes from the printing presses down Swansea way.

This leaflet is reasonably well designed with a good mix of images and text. I like the Q&A section – it gives an opportunity for the candidate to come across in an informal, conversational style. However he does the classic politician trick of not answering the questions – which is a bit of a surprise, because presumably he also asked them. So he doesn’t tell us what his first priority would be if elected MP, only saying that “one of the most important issues… is crime and community safety”. Or is that two issues?

I like the idea of weekly street surgeries. It would make a nice change because Alun Michael is practically invisible in the constituency – except for the ‘vote Labour’ signs outside his expensive house (largely paid for by you and me) come election time.

The factfile is a good way of presenting personal information, although on the same page I still consider “problem parking in Penarth” to be something way down the list of priorities.

Unsurprisingly for the party placed second in 2010 we have the two-horse race thesis, this time with a graph that was so curiously missing from the Lib Dem pamphlet. It’s worth quoting what I said back here about these ‘two-horse race’ arguments:

the ‘two horse race’ raises its tired nag’s head once more. I dislike these for the following reasons:

  • The graphs universally use misleading axes in order to distort the statistical reality
  • They lie (look no further than one recent by-election)
  • Worst of all, they attempt to stifle democracy by telling people not to vote for any other than two parties

I’ve taken Craig to task before for not coming clean on the tax breaks for millionaires, although the increase in the personal tax allowance is to be welcomed. Meanwhile, he’s banging the same drum on police spending “more time on the beat” even though this is ineffective in reducing crime. It’s a peculiar approach for someone whose apparent priority is “crime and community safety”. And his claim that ‘inflation is down’ needs to be put into historical context where it looks as though the Conservatives have spent the last few years focusing on nothing other than pushing inflation up.

Finally, not a word of Welsh. Not that you’d expect it from the Conservatives, who will try to con you into thinking they’re a Welsh party through affixing ‘Welsh’ in front of their name.

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Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Westminster

Election Address from the Conservatives


Craig Williams, Conservative Party candidate in the Penarth and Cardiff South by-election, did not comply with the terms of An Irresistible Offer

Gadael sylw

Filed under Conservative Party, Democracy, Elections, Westminster

The Most Productive Area on Earth

Plaid’s latest electoral leaflet has arrived, courtesy of the Plaid team. It’s a relatively simple leaflet, but that can be a benefit in politics. The three core messages are that, if elected, Luke will:

  • Fight for jobs and apprenticeships
  • Be a strong voice for Wales in London
  • Demand the best deal for you and your family

This all sounds a bit wishy-washy to me. There’s no substance to it. Granted, it’s a short document, to its huge credit bilingual, and nicely laid out with lots of ‘white space’, but it would be good to have a bit of policy oomph.

Over the page then we get urged to “send a real message to the Government in Westminster that they need to start listening to our community”. Do I recall a similar message being used by the Labour Party earlier this year? And if so, what message does a vote for Plaid or Labour represent?

It’s peculiar to hear from a Plaid candidate that “the only way” to get jobs in Penarth and Cardiff South (formerly “the most productive area on earth”) is through “having a strong voice from Wales in London”. Doesn’t that directly contradict the message that Wales should be generating jobs and investment through, for example, much more focus on local procurement?

Again, presumably because of a lack of space, we’re not treated to any substance in relation to the commitment to “securing the best deal for you”. But at least we get a nice picture of Luke and his party leader with some smiling campaigners – which is a much more down-to-earth way of showing your standing in the party than the traditional photo employed by others in this contest.

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

Will The Conservatives Ever Learn?

This is the second of the recent Conservative pamphlets (with thanks again to BD). You may be  interested to hear that Craig Williams failed to meet the criteria for An Irresistible Offer, despite confirming that he would do so in his tweet of 1:53 AM – 21 Oct 12. The Conservatives will therefore be without an election address on this site. Their loss.

But the title of this post relates to something else. Because squirrelled away in very small print at the bottom of this missive is the information that it was printed by Mortons Print Ltd of Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Mortons Print is one of those struggling local businesses with a measly £12 million turnover. Horncastle is part of the Louth and Horncastle constituency, which has an unbroken record of being held by the Conservatives since its formation in 1997. So it seems as if the Conservatives – as they did back in April – are very keen to farm jobs off to their friends in the English shires rather than provide employment for the many printers within the constituency of Penarth and Cardiff South. Do as I say, not as I do.

So when, on page 3 of the pamphlet, Craig Williams says that he’s “Putting Cardiff South and Penarth first”, how much credibility do we attach to the claim? And given that Craig “heads up the influential Economy Committee on Cardiff Council”, the good burghers of Cardiff are probably best off battening down the hatches.

But it’s back to page 1, and the headline “Investing in Welsh Railways” that I cast my eyes now. Apparently the Conservatives in Westminster are going to be electrifying parts of the railway in Wales. Well, excuse me for not popping open the champagne, but until I can hear the crackle of the wires in Maesteg, Ebbw Vale and Treorchy I’m not going to hold my breath. Because there’s a world of difference between announcing that something will happen and actually achieving it. And Craig’s eager to have a pop at Labour for not electrifying during their 13 years’ tenure at Westminster. But since Craig is so keen to make comparisons across the border let’s have a look at England. A country where lines were being electrified in the 1930s and which has about 50% of its lines electrified already. So successive  UK governments of all colours have been happy to let Wales founder for at least 80 years in a rapidly diminishing club of non-electrified European countries that now puts Wales in the august company of Albania and Moldova.

As in the previous post, I’m glad that pensioners are receiving a significant increase in allowance after several years of (inflation adjusted) parsimony under Labour. I’ll pose the same question as last time: where’s the money coming to pay for it? At least partially, it’s coming from eroded services and cuts in benefits. But those are the choices of government.

And as in the previous leaflet, Craig is very good at trumpeting tax cuts without revealing how much better off the top 1% will be as a result of his party’s activities. And once again we see Craig’s commitment to police officers trudging the streets rather than protecting the public in ways that might actually be effective.

It’s good to see a focus on education, and Wales’ slipping down the international league tables is a cause of concern to most people. In this he’s spot on to slam Labour, who’ve presided over this alarming slump in performance since 2006. But it’s a little ironic for him to be raising the £604 less per pupil that is spent in Wales on education, because that’s just about equal to or less than the £300-£750 million underfunding that Wales suffers as a result of the Barnett formula. Get your party to fix the formula, Craig, and watch that gap fall away.

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Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Westminster