Tag Archives: Kevin Mahoney

A Surprising Dichotomy

For someone with a smattering of CSEs to her name, you’d be surprised at the interest I’ve got in academic research, even if Kevin Mahoney of UKIP puts his faith in reading tea leaves. And Richard Wyn Jones has been at it again, revealing wondrous insights about the English mind.

In this latest research, he uncovered that the more ‘British’ an English person feels, the more favourably inclined towards the European Union she is. But the more ‘English’ an English person feels, the less he is likely to support the European Union. What’s more – and probably hardly a shock to the system – there is a pronounced trend towards Euro-scepticism in those who support parties further to the right of the political spectrum.

But one of the other interesting findings is that the right-wing parties harbour individuals (in England) who have a preference for an English passport over a British passport. So, in order of furthest to the right (at the UK 2010 General Election):

  • UKIP – 59% of supporters would prefer an English passport; 35% would prefer British passport
  • Conservative – 47% preference for English passport; 49% preference British
  • Labour – 35% preference for English passport; 55% preference British
  • Lib Dem – 33% preference for English passport; 55% preference British
  • Understandably, Plaid Cymru supporters in England were not canvassed

It’s quite a finding. The more right wing an English person is, the more likely they are both to want to withdraw from the European Union and to favour greater independence for England.

But here’s the kick. Let’s look at Wales. Here, the more right-wing you are, while you are presumably as likely as your English friends to want to withdraw from the European Union, you are more likely to refute the idea of greater independence for Wales.

So in order of most right-wing:

  • UKIP – open warfare among those ‘relaxed’ about devolution and those seeing an opportunity for harvesting anti-devolution votes
  • Conservative – Leader of the party in Wales has recently confessed that some members “are still fighting the battles of the devolution referendum of 1997”
  • Labour – open warfare between the pro-devolutionists and anti-devolutionists
  • Lib Dem – have run a ‘long campaign’ for a federal UK
  • Plaid – support full independence for Wales

Why does the right wing in Wales bitterly oppose independence for Wales at the same time that their brothers in England are most fervent supporters for greater independence for England? That’s a question only the right-leaning population of Wales can answer.

What’s good for the goose is good for the right-wing gander. But not, it seems, in Wales.

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1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, UKIP

Anglesey, UKIP, the RAF and Johnny English

I know better than to question the judgement of Professor Richard Wyn Jones, election and governance guru: as far as I can tell his work is based on impeccable research. So when he tells us that UKIP “is surfing a wave of existentialist angst about England’s place in the world” it’s time to sit up and listen. His research tells us that UKIP’s supporters express the strongest sense of English identity, most dissatisfaction with the constitutional status quo in the UK (for which, read ‘devolution’), and unsurprisingly, strongest support for withdrawal from the EU. And when asked “which party best stands up for English interests?”, the answer – from a random set of the English public, remember – is as follows:

  • UKIP – 21%
  • Labour – 19%
  • Conservative – 17%
  • Lib Dems – 6%
  • None of the above – 16%

So what’s this got to do with Penarth?

It turns out that you can interrogate the 2011 statistics to ward level (and beyond). And nationality is one of the variables you can probe. It’s actually not too difficult once you know which site to use. For the purposes of this post I was interested in those people who class themselves as “English only”, “English and British only” and “Other English”. And the results for Penarth wards?

  • Llandochau – 8.0%
  • Stanwell – 8.0%
  • Cornerswell – 8.1%
  • Sully – 11.3%
  • St. Augustine’s – 11.4%
  • Plymouth – 12.0%

There’s been plenty in the news quoting UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farrage, saying “we are getting over 25 per cent of the vote everywhere we stand across the country”. Now as we in Wales know, the country Nigel’s talking about is England. Because in elections on Anglesey UKIP polled just 7% of the votes (although this was more than the Conservatives (6%) and Lib Dems (5%) polled).

But it does raise some interesting questions about UKIP’s tactics in the next local authority elections in the Vale of Glamorgan (in 2017). Given that it’s viewed as the party that best stands up for English interests, perhaps Kevin Mahoney should be looking at the parts of the Vale with the highest proportion of people identifying themselves as English. That means another set of figures, this time for the remainder of the Vale (likewise in ascending order of English).

  • Illtyd – 7.0%
  • Court – 7.8%
  • Buttrills – 8.2%
  • Baruc – 8.3%
  • Cadoc – 8.4%
  • Dyfan – 8.5%
  • Gibbonsdown – 8.8%
  • Dinas Powys – 8.9%
  • Castleland – 9.6%
  • Wenvoe – 10.1%
  • Peterston-super-Ely – 10.3%
  • Llandow/Ewenny – 12.4%
  • Rhoose – 12.7%
  • St. Bride’s Major – 14.1%
  • Cowbridge – 14.2%
  • Llantwit Major – 17.9%
  • St. Athan – 26.9%

In my previous advice to UKIP I suggested that:

In the wider Vale there are key characteristics of certain wards that UKIP could exploit. Multi-member wards with a strong Conservative showing would look most vulnerable, so they should look to target Cowbridge and Rhoose, and they could probably have a pop at Llantwit Major to test the water.

The census would suggest that I neglected St. Athan (admittedly, single-member) from the list. If I was a betting person, I’d suggest that a UKIP candidate in St. Athan could really put the cat among the pigeons. In fact, the three wards I recommended back in October 2012 plus St. Athan are far more appealing from the perspective of winning seats than anywhere in Penarth. Does that mean that in 2017 we’ll be looking at just the one UKIP candidate in Penarth, or will results in 2014, 2015 and possibly 2016 act as recruiting sergeants for UKIP in 2017?

And a final note of general interest. It appears that there’s a background level of ‘Englishness’ in the Vale, bubbling along at 7-9%. Then there are areas of elevated Englishness of 9-13% – in the Penarth area those wards are St. Augustine’s, Plymouth and Sully, and elsewhere it’s the rural Vale. The next cluster of higher Englishness is from 14-18% in St. Brides Major (which includes the plum coastal settlements Southerndown and Ogmore-by-Sea), posh/boutique Cowbridge and – for some less easily identifiable reason – Llantwit Major. And then top of the pile, with probably one of the highest proportion of English identifiers in south Wales, we have St. Athan. No prizes for guessing which RAF base is responsible for propagating a level more than 3 times the background level.

This is the same RAF of course that used to offer forces families in Anglesey special provision:

for the education of children of Service personnel based in North Wales who would otherwise be disadvantaged, academically and socially, by the bilingual teaching policy adopted within the Gwynedd and Isle of Anglesey Local Education Authorities

Given the anti-Welsh attitude of the RAF in Valley, perhaps it’s not surprising that UKIP fared as poorly on Anglesey as they did last week.

4 Sylw

Filed under Elections, UKIP, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Electoral Strategy for UKIP 2017

One half of all the UKIP councillors in Wales represents Sully.

UKIP’s historical success has come in elections with an element of proportional representation – principally, European elections (the next of which is in 2014). It’s hardly surprising really. For a political party that could only rustle up 12 candidates to contest 1,223 seats (Anglesey excepted) in May’s local elections, UKIP always stands a better chance in elections where they only need one candidate to take one-quarter of the seats on offer. A much bigger question for UKIP would be how to capture a greater number of seats across Wales – but fortunately for me, my main concern is Penarth.

So as for the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Independents, the challenge for UKIP is to find more candidates. But which ward should the new candidate(s) stand in?

I previously described that UKIP:

don’t seem to have an electoral strategy other than picking up votes from disaffected Conservative voters. By which I mean right-wing Conservatives. Certainly the Conservatives themselves appeared rattled by UKIP’s performance in May and the recent polling in Wales clearly demonstrates they have most to fear from UKIP.

Given the likely main source of their polling, it would seem most fruitful for them to target Plymouth ward next. Why Plymouth? Firstly, Plymouth is the least-deprived ward in Penarth and Sully is a close second, so the demographic is likely to be relatively similar. And secondly, UKIP already provided a tremendous surprise by taking one of the seats in Sully, for which I had previously forecast:

Sully will also keep its incumbent councillors, Conservatives Anthony Ernest and Sarah Sharpe.

And my prediction for Plymouth?

Plymouth will keep its two Conservative councillors forever. Councillors Maureen Kelly Owen and Clive Williams will retain their seats until they drop.

After what happened in Sully, now I’m not so sure. An Independent and/or UKIP challenge in Plymouth could lead to a very interesting result in 2017.

In the wider Vale there are key characteristics of certain wards that UKIP could exploit. Multi-member wards with a strong Conservative showing would look most vulnerable, so they should look to target Cowbridge and Rhoose, and they could probably have a pop at Llantwit Major to test the water.

And the chances of UKIP finding enough candidates to target these four additional wards? Not good. But they’ve got just over 4 years to do it so they should be able to challenge in at least one other ward by 2017. Shouldn’t they?

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, UKIP, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Electoral Strategy for Independents 2017

It’s with a certain reticence that I write this post. After all, Independents by their nature come from such a wide range of interests and political leanings that very little unifies them. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Independents are a major force in Welsh politics – at the local authority level. With 313 councillors (excluding those in Anglesey), they’re the second-biggest force in politics at this level, and they control Pembrokeshire, Powys and Anglesey councils.

In the Vale of Glamorgan there are 7 Independent Members, making it the joint-third largest grouping (along with Plaid). Four of these are the Llantwit First Independents, and then we have the unaffiliated Richard Bertin (formerly a Labour councillor) in Court (Barry), Philip Clarke in Rhoose and our very own Bob Penrose in Sully.

So how can the Independents become a major political force in the Vale?

It won’t be easy. Because of the traditional ding-dong between the Conservatives and Labour, and the often knife-edge results, other parties tend to get squeezed a bit. But the consistent success of the Llantwit First Independents, as well as the advent of three new independent councillors this time round, indicate that the ground may be surprisingly fertile for independent candidates.

So let’s think big. If the Independent grouping wants to have a chance of controlling the council they need to win an additional 17 or more seats. It’s unlikely they’ll achieve that any time soon, but here are some pointers for how they might go about their strategy.

First, they need to be putting up candidates in as many wards as possible. And as for all the political groupings, chances of success are increased by having local candidates (although that’s not essential as we can see here, here, here and here, for example). But where should they target their resources? Richard Bertin aside, all the Independents have captured seats in what might be described as traditional Conservative territory. So it would seem sensible for more of their resources to be targeted towards these wards than the others. In Penarth that would mean a stronger effort in Sully (unless Kevin Mahoney could be persuaded to join an Independent group in the event of them forming a Cabinet) and targeting Plymouth ward. And elsewhere it would mean a push in the rural Vale.

The Independents’ gender balance is the worst of any of the groupings, with a full house of male representatives. It’s something they’ll need to rectify if they start to become anywhere near a major player in the Vale.

And a final point for Independents. You’ll want to be vociferously opposing the creation of super-wards across the Vale when the boundary review process restarts. The experience from Llantwit Major notwithstanding, it’s going to be an awful lot more difficult for one or two candidates to cover a 5-Member ward than a 2-Member ward.

5 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Labour 2012

Well, difficult by-elections aside, someone must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves. That someone would be the Labour Party in Penarth. They extended their reach to their joint-highest ever, 6 of the 10 councillors on offer.

At an individual ward level the Labour candidates’ results were:

  • Cornerswell – 15% up
  • Plymouth – 23% up
  • St. Augustine’s – 20% up
  • Stanwell – 36% up
  • Sully – 9% up

In a similar manner to fortunes at Plaid and the Conservatives, we have a general trend here for Labour of a rough 19% increase across much of Penarth. But we’ve got a slightly different story for Labour in that performance was especially good in one ward, and relatively bad in another.

I’ve already explained my thinking around the result in Sully here, where Labour (and Plaid) “were bit-part players in this election”.  Something went on which the Labour candidate was clearly unable to influence.

But Stanwell – which I described in June as “one of the least interesting wards” is anything but uninteresting for Labour apparatchiks. If the vote increase in one ward can be double that in the rest of Penarth, then the Labour campaign here was very persuasive. I can only imagine that Janice Birch and Mark Wilson must be excellent councillors. It’s not easy to get people to vote for you in an election, unless you’ve proven your worth to the electorate time and time again.  And to have such a strong showing in a year which was in any case “Labour’s best council results since 1996” was some result.

I’d described the 15% increase in Cornerswell as a ‘high water mark’, given the swing to Labour across Wales. But it’s a water mark that could be breached – if Rhiannon Birch and Peter King take sage advice from Janice Birch and Mark Wilson. Given that Rhiannon shares an address with Mark Wilson, that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. Let’s see what 5 years living under the same roof as one of this election’s star performers can do for Rhiannon’s fortunes in 2017!

The Labour Party in Penarth need to ask themselves the same question as the Liberal Democrats, but from a distinctly different vantage point: where on earth do they go from here?

I’ll be looking at all the parties’ electoral strategies for 2017 in my next post, so I’ll help them answer that question then.

But in the meantime, let’s take a quick look at those candidates from all parties who managed to achieve a swing substantially better than the Penarth version of the national swing. I’m assuming that achieving a result in line with the Penarth swing for each party was achieved by doing the minimum (which I call the ‘do nothing’ scenario) – perhaps a leaflet and a bit of doorknocking, but that the result was based primarily on how the electoral game was playing out at a Wales and UK level.

There are three examples that stand out. Firstly, Janice and Mark (see above) for Labour. Secondly for Plaid, where the Penarth trend was a 45% reduction which Osian Lewis and Luke James managed to buck by 18% – the same scale of improvement above the trend line as the Labour star performers. The third example is the Sully outliers of Bob Penrose and Kevin Mahoney, because although there’s no Penarth trend for Independents or UKIP their results are striking.

And in the other direction – those candidates who appear to have done spectacularly badly, somehow contriving to do even worse than the ‘do nothing’ scenario?

Paula Hardy in Sully polled about 10% less than the Penarth Labour trend. Sully also provided bad news for the Conservative candidates Anthony Ernest and Sarah Sharpe (especially Anthony), who were about 25% below the Penarth Conservative trend. And the other candidates to have suffered ‘complete collapse’ in vote share of the same order were Dorothy Turner and John Fraser of the Conservatives who stood in Cornerswell. This should be worrying the Conservative Party. There was something about these four candidates that rendered them totally unpalatable in this election. Conservative strategists need to determine what that was before entrusting them to electoral contest again.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Vale of Glamorgan Council

UKIP 2012

I’ll come clean – I wasn’t anticipating having to write a post with this title. The fact that UKIP is coming after Plaid means that we’re onto the first of the three parties to taste the sweet nectar of success in May’s elections. And how frustrating for Plaid! They’ve been grinding away in Penarth for donkeys’ years with no success and along comes UKIP at the first go and waltzes into power.

UKIP polled 13% in the seats it contested. That’s pretty respectable in my mind – and only marginally less than the Liberal Democrats (although the Lib Dem result may have been an average for all seats, contested or not). But Kevin secured votes from 40% of the Sully electorate, so he spectacularly outshone his peers around the UK. There were 12 UKIP candidates in Wales in the May elections, with two getting elected. On a proportionate basis, that’s probably better than most parties. But the thing with putting up few candidates is that you pick and choose where you think you stand the best chance.

So are we looking at a glorious future for UKIP in Penarth?

I was pretty surprised when I heard that Kevin Mahoney had been elected in the first place – as you’ll see here and here. So first off let’s be clear that this pundit is fallible and has a track record of underestimating the electoral attractiveness of UKIP. But I really can’t see UKIP going anywhere in Penarth; in fact, I imagine Kevin will have a bit of a fight on his hands in 2017 (assuming the Conservatives and/or an independent other than Bob Penrose puts in a bit of spadework). And my thinking on UKIP’s limits follow two lines of reasoning.

Firstly, they don’t seem to have an electoral strategy other than picking up votes from disaffected Conservative voters. By which I mean right-wing Conservatives. Certainly the Conservatives themselves appeared rattled by UKIP’s performance in May and the recent polling in Wales clearly demonstrates they have most to fear from UKIP. I know that UKIP supporters will point with disgruntlement at that poll and say that they are a credible alternative to the establishment parties. But at the moment, despite gaining Wales’ fourth MEP slot, I don’t see their polling translating into seats at local authorities in 2017.

Secondly, they’re a fringe party, and we know this because their policies aren’t subject to the usual forensic scrutiny that other parties come under. You can check out their policies for the local elections here. But in the week we found out that the entire Greenland ice sheet started melting, a party that wants to “close the climate change department” is hardly a party with a strong moral compass. And it’s a party that wants to wrest control for the UK from Europe but not wrest control for Wales from the UK (seemingly the reverse). Talk about cognitive dissonance! Because it’s the only party in Wales that wants to abolish the National Assembly (or “replace Assembly Members with MPs”). And does their “scrap state promotion of multiculturalism. We are British” have any implications for the two cultures we have in Wales?

Enough! I think we’ve got the picture that this is a very right-wing party with a peculiar lack of strategic policy-making which is unlikely to make inroads into the more moderate and left-wing politics prevalent in Wales and Penarth. And being a fringe party means that they struggle to find anyone willing to stand in their name, and I’d be surprised if anyone from the Penarth/Sully area would be willing to stand under the UKIP flag. After all, Kevin himself lives in Barry.

There’s actually a third reason for being confident that UKIP won’t make inroads into Penarth. I’ve tantalisingly mentioned this reason before herehere and here, and I do intend writing a post about it because it’s got huge implications for local democracy.

7 Sylw

Filed under Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Sully 2012

Well done to all you political anoraks out there who’ve been hanging on this long. Believe me, the wait’s worth it because Sully’s result turned politics in this corner of the Vale on its head.

Firstly let’s award myself 0/2 for this ward. Way back in April I confidently predicted that:

Sully will also keep its incumbent councillors, Conservatives Anthony Ernest and Sarah Sharpe.

So I’d like to congratulate Bob Penrose (Independent) and Kevin Mahoney (UKIP) on their election victory. But how did I get it so wrong? First things first, let’s check out the stats.

It was no understatement that politics in Sully was turned on its head. Can you believe your eyes?!

I described the Cornerswell Conservative result as a ‘complete collapse’. So how should I describe this result that plumbs new depths? The Conservative vote shrivelled to just 44% of its 2008 result. Labour’s vote shuffled up by 9%, but was still lower than both of the Conservative candidates despite their horrendous performance. The Plaid situation is the reverse of that in Cornerswell and Plymouth where two candidates stood in contrast to one candidate in 2008. So I’m going to use the same logic, but in reverse, in my analysis of the candidate’s performance in Sully. That means that Plaid’s result was a reduction of 12%, which compared to other results locally looks pretty good.

You’ll notice that there are blanks next to Independent and UKIP in the stats table. That’s because I only consider an Independent candidate’s results as comparable if it’s the same candidate, and Bob Penrose didn’t stand in Sully last time. And this is the first time that UKIP has stood in an election in the Penarth area, and probably the Vale of Glamorgan as a whole. That means that there is no prior record with which to make a comparison. I’ll come back to just what a stunning turnaround this is after I’ve gone through the turnout figures.

Turnout in Sully was 1,571 out of 3,579 electors, for a turnout of 44%, which was the highest turnout by some margin in Penarth/Sully. It’s also anomalous in that Plymouth ward is relatively the least deprived in Penarth and yet its turnout was lower. Did something boost turnout in Sully?

More than half (56%) of voters put a X next to Independent candidate Bob Penrose’s name. That gives him an very strong mandate to serve. UKIP’s Kevin Mahoney managed to persuade 40% of voters to support him. The Conservative incumbents Sarah Sharpe and Anthony Ernest only managed to secure votes from 30% and 22% of voters. Labour candidate Paula Hardy got the nod from 21% of voters, while it was barely worth Plaid candidate Carolyn Mirza-Davies getting out of bed for the count: just 9% of voters thought she would be one of the best options.

So how about the 56% of the electorate that don’t think that politics matters? Subtracting our 10% to eliminate people who can’t vote leaves a practical electorate of 3,221. So in order for a different independent candidate to come top in 2017, they’d need to persuade 53% of the non-voters to cast a vote in their favour. I reckon this makes Bob Penrose the most rock-solid bet to retain his seat in 2017 (assuming he stands for election and doesn’t commit some awful social blunder in the interim). The combination of high turnout and high proportion of voters marking his card means that he’s the only candidate for whom more than half of the non-voters would need to be swayed by a new candidate – and given that such a result would take top spot and this is a two-seat ward, he’s definitely here to stay.

I should also put a caveat here. If local Conservatives, who apparently have done something to disgruntle the electorate, put in a big effort in Sully things could look different by 2017. Add into the mix the possibility that the Conservatives may not be part of the UK Government after the 2015 Westminster elections and therefore riding higher in the polls, and they could indeed be challengers for these seats. But for now I’ll stick with my current assessment.

So what happened in Sully? The Conservatives clearly had a total disaster. Their previous supporters abandoned them in droves, drawn across to the new kids on the block. Labour and Plaid were bit-part players in this election because two people who hadn’t previously stood for election in Sully were able to sweep into office – although Kevin Mahoney has certainly got some election experience under his belt. (And talking of Kevin, this alleged quote probably deserves an explanation from the man himself). But those of you who’ve followed this blog since before the elections in May will know that most of the information I was getting came to me in relation to St. Augustine’s and Cornerswell wards. I was totally unaware of the electoral wave that was gathering pace in darkest Sully until 4 May. Bob and Kevin were clearly doing a lot of things right for the people of Sully, Lavernock and Cosmeston. Perhaps in 2017 they’ll keep me posted!

But there’s another interesting strand of thought here. Kevin’s status in the party has been described here:

Kevin Mahoney was one of two UKIPPERS elected in the recent council elections in Wales. Some Welsh UKIPPERS have now suggested that he should replace John Bufton as lead MEP candidate in 2014. Bufton is now out of favour with Farage, plus he has health problems.

I’m assuming that UKIP will be putting forward a candidate in the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election. Lots of easy publicity, mmmm. But who should they put forward? It’s difficult to think of anyone better poised to make his mark than a sitting councillor who has a seat in the constituency (even if he lives outside its boundaries) and who has experience of standing in a high-profile election before. He might be even more inclined to stand if he considers that the Conservative performance in 2012 (not least in Sully) means it’s entirely credible that UKIP could take a sizeable chunk (this report suggests 10%) of traditionally Conservative support in the up-coming by-election. And wouldn’t a decent result in Cardiff South and Penarth just bolster his chances of getting that coveted top spot in 2014?

8 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Vale of Glamorgan Council