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

Getting Tough on Problem Parking

You wait ages and ages and then two turn up at once. Conservative election leaflets, that is. So here’s the first one, with thanks to blog reader BD for sending it through.

And the headline issue of critical importance for a newly elected Conservative MP for Penarth and Cardiff South? Problem parking in Penarth. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll rest a lot easier at night knowing that if Craig Williams is elected he’ll be busying himself about the place, “leading a petition to the local council for enforcement of resident parking”.

What Craig doesn’t appear to grasp is that the roads are provided for the benefit of all the people of Penarth, visitors, businesspeople and residents alike through public taxation. They are a public provision. The availability of spaces to park in close proximity to one’s home is a privilege, not a right – so Craig is wasting his time if he thinks he will be able to legislate for residents having “every right” to “park near their homes”.

Craig makes some bold claims, including that unemployment is falling and nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs have been created since the coalition government was elected. However he doesn’t tell us how many public sector jobs have been eliminated in the interim, nor does he reveal that the number of long-term unemployed in Wales increased by 8.9% for the year ending 30 June 2012. Meanwhile, the debt – which Craig’s Conservatives are “dealing with” so admirably – has reached the highest level (as percentage of GDP) at any time since the 1970s.

I’ve already pointed out that people with much more knowledge about policing than myself or, it turns out, Craig, consider it a bad idea that police “spend more time on the beat”. Yet that is exactly what Craig is looking to encourage. Perhaps he’s on the wrong ballot paper?

I’m glad that the basic state pension has seen a large absolute increase under the coalition government. As ever, the question remains of who is paying for this generosity when public finances are coming under exceptional strain.

And trumpeting cutting income tax without telling people that one of the taxes to be cut is the 50% rate on those earning £150,000 is disingenuous. Even if there are a few super-wealthy households in Penarth, how many of those big earners live in Cogan, Butetown and St. Mellons?

The Conservatives have obviously learned tactics from their Liberal Democrat colleagues in Westminster, because 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

Finally, Craig is getting excitable about a National Health Scandal. While I’m sure there’s no small room for improvement in the NHS in Wales, things are not exactly smelling of roses across the border. And given that this is a field that is entirely devolved, perhaps he would be better off waiting until 2016 before standing for election.

What is a scandal – not unexpected, of course – is the absence of any Welsh language anywhere on the leaflet. So the Conservatives tell us they’re “caring and campaigning for Penarth” – but only if your language of choice is English.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating:

…there are plenty of people who are well-disposed towards the Welsh language who can speak not a word of it, alongside the 10% plus who are bilingual. And who knows, perhaps it might just start the long process of shaking off the tag of being one of the ‘English people telling us what to do’ parties.

It needn’t even take up any more space than the current format. As I’ve mentioned here… and here, some graphic design packages are free of charge and can enable even the most computer-illiterate to design an attractive leaflet, taking up half the space (and hence allowing space for a translation).

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Filed under Cogan, Conservatives, Democracy, Parking, Police, Westminster

The Line-Up

So it’s official. The by-election for Penarth and Cardiff South will be on 15 November, the same day as that for the Police Commissioners.

The Police Commissioners’ election could scarcely be less relevant. After all, Police Commissioners are opposed by all parties in Wales (nominally the Welsh Conservatives are in favour, but a shoe-in for at least 3 Labour politicians to high profile jobs for life must seem a bitter pill for them to swallow on behalf of their Westminster masters). And it’s a policy that could seriously backfire. Not least because the one thing you can guarantee voters will want is more bobbies on the beat. And as far as the Audit Commission is concerned, wandering the streets is a “not effective” way for highly-paid police officers to be tackling crime.

Why are no such elections happening in Scotland and Northern Ireland, by the way? It’s because policing and criminal justice is devolved to those countries, and their governments appear to have more sense than the UK Government, which is grimly pushing ahead because it’s a manifesto commitment (not that that appears to be a major impediment). And as I’ve previously suggested, given the majority support in Wales for devolution of policing, the Commissioners could be out of a job before too long in any case:

Stephen’s going to have to get used to being branded hypocritical. Because in relation to police numbers, if we look north to  Scotland, police numbers are actually rising. But then police and criminal justice is devolved to Scotland (and Northern Ireland), so they’re much better equipped to withstand the ‘vicious cuts’ that Stephen is so concerned about. Perhaps he’d be better off asking Peter Hain why he thought policing would be better off financed by London than Wales than bleating about 750 officers being lost as a result of Labour’s failure to devolve when they had the chance…

I’m with Stephen that privatisation of the police forces a la Lincolnshire – policing for profit – is a bad idea. But the only cast-iron way of ensuring it doesn’t happen in Wales? Devolve policing and criminal justice – something, incidentally, that’s supported by a substantial majority of the Welsh public.

But irrelevant as these elections are, there’s one thing that keeps me from taking Lord Ian Blair’s advice and not voting in the election. And this, despite my reluctance to give any credence to the grotesque and not credible advertising that the Home Office has been taking out in its desperation for this election not to be the farce that many expect.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Alun Michael’s not my favourite politician. And it’s not just for the reasons I gave here:

I won’t be shedding many tears over Alun’s departure. His awful performance as First Secretary to the National Assembly for Wales along with his ‘strong support’ for the Iraq war and for renewing the UK’s nuclear arsenal are a matter of public record (I guess it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money when you’re on an MP’s salary). I just hope that the general contempt in which he appears to be held in Penarth is replicated throughout south Wales and he fails to get the £85,000 top job at South Wales Police. 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.

A few people I know are more than a little disgruntled because they’ve never received responses from multiple attempts to contact Alun Michael – and yes, these are constituents of Penarth and Cardiff South. Active citizens who’ve given up on their MP because of his poor record on communication. So Alun, you won’t be racking up a vote from this blog – in fact I’ll be having a think about the best tactical vote to be made to give you an early retirement. I figure if someone’s crap at communicating as an MP they’re not likely to be much ‘cop’ as a Commissioner – where communication with the plebs is crucial.

I won’t be offering publicity to the candidates this time round because I’m focused on the real issue of the day. If we’re still saddled with the donkeys of Commissioners in four or five years’ time I’ll reassess.

But we can put Commissioners to one side for the time being, because this post is really about the fantastic line-up of articles coming your way in the next few weeks. Last month I said:

On sequential days running up to the by-election I will publish an election message from each candidate in the election. The election address should be no more than 500 words, and I will publish it unedited (provided it doesn’t include defamation, incitement to violence etc.).

I confess it may not be possible for me to post one after the next each day, but I’ll do my best. In any case, all candidates who fit the criteria I stipulated here will get their election messages in time for the election.

So barring mishaps where a candidate fails to pass on their election material in good time, this is the line-up we’ll get on 8 days leading up to 15 November:

  • Stephen Doughty (Labour)
  • Roberth Griffiths (Communist)
  • Andrew Jordan (Socialist Labour)
  • Bablin Molik (Lib Dem)
  • Luke Nicholas (Plaid Cymru)
  • Anthony Slaughter (Greens)
  • Craig Williams (Conservative)
  • Simon Zeigler (UKIP)

Candidates: you should send your election messages (500 words or less) to penartharbyd[a]gmail.com to arrive no later than 31 October. And as a final caution, don’t think that you’ll earn any favours by not continuing to pass on your election material after your election message has been published!

Good luck persuading the electorate…

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Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Police

An Irresistible Offer

I’m eternally grateful to the army of readers who furnish me with scanned copies of electoral material. But do I get every pamphlet sent through?

At the local authority elections in May I didn’t get any contributions from Sully, Plymouth or Stanwell wards. Did the candidates not produce any literature, or did I simply not get hold of what they produced? I’m still none the wiser – but it wasn’t great for democracy because readers of the blog living in those wards had no independent analysis of the election missives.

There’s another problem with relying exclusively on blog readers: often the quality of scanning just doesn’t capture the quality of the original publication.

At the local authority elections in May, Lis Burnett from Labour and Luke James and Osian Lewis from Plaid took the trouble to send me their electoral briefings either by pdf or as links to an online version.

So I’d like to extend that practice for the Penarth and Cardiff South by-election with an irresistible offer.

On sequential days running up to the by-election I will publish an election message from each candidate in the election. The election address should be no more than 500 words, and I will publish it unedited (provided it doesn’t include defamation, incitement to violence etc.). The order of publication will be in the same order as the ballot papers, so based on nominated candidates, this would be the running order:

  • Stephen Doughty (Labour)
  • Robert Griffiths (Communist)
  • Andrew Jordan (Socialist Labour)
  • Bablin Molik (Lib Dem)
  • Luke Nicholas (Plaid)
  • Craig Williams (Conservative)

For information, I will not publish an election address from the BNP should they manage to dredge up a candidate from somewhere.

The quid pro quo? You need to send me copies of your electoral material no later than 5 days after it arrives through people’s letter boxes. Electronic copies only, please, either as pdfs (penartharbyd[a]gmail.com) or as links to permanent copies online. Failure to send them through will automatically disqualify you from this irresistible offer. Those candidates who provide no electoral information are still eligible for the election address.

So why should you bother? Well, this blog received 237 hits on 4 May, so there’s a fairly active readership out there. I’d expect this to have increased come election day as the reach of the blog has extended over time.

And let’s be frank. If you opt out, you’re sending a clear message to the electorate that you don’t want your election material to be subject to independent scrutiny.

That doesn’t go down well with me, and I don’t think it will with them.

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