Tag Archives: Kirsty Williams

Carwyn Jones – Mr Anonymous

There was a time when Carwyn Jones was regarded as an asset to the Labour Party in Wales. Regard the party political broadcast for the 2011 election which was basically the Carwyn show. And who could overlook the analyses by Roger Scully, which for some reason use polling data, rather than the revolutionary new method we’re about to reveal. Roger noted in December 2014 that:

Carwyn Jones remains by some way the most popular party leader in Wales

Let’s consider that Carwyn has been First Minister since December 2009, a full six years. That would be a decent length of time for someone to make their mark. But I get the feeling that Carwyn’s star has fallen a long way since its ascendency in 2011. Perhaps he’s taken everything (and everyone) for granted for so long that people just don’t care about him – or his opinion – any more. I’d be astonished if Carwyn gets the airtime in this election that he enjoyed in party political broadcasts last election. What leads to this radical conclusion?

It’s the New Year Twitter test.

As First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones’ new year message of good will was retweeted a grand total of 4 times (up to the end of 4 January), one of whom is a candidate in the coming election, and another Wayne David, MP for Caerffili. To be fair, his Welsh language version was retweeted 5 times. But two of these had already retweeted the English language version. Grand total? 7 retweets.

How did other First and Prime Ministers do?  Nicola Sturgeon only managed 419 retweets. Pathetic really for someone who’s been in post a shade over one year. David Cameron managed 1,300 for the cheesy ‘Happy New Year’ tweet, with a more modest 363 for his actual message.

How about the other party leaders in Wales? Kirsty Williams didn’t get a single retweet for her message, Andrew RT Davies netted 12 retweets, Alice Hooker Stroud got 7 (not bad for a month’s tenure!) and Leanne Wood achieved 34.

But we’re not really comparing like with like. It’s hardly a fair contest to pit opposition leaders – of varying tenure – against the profile of someone who until recently was Wales’ most popular party leader. Nor is it fair to pit the leaders of England and Scotland – both much bigger countries – against that of Wales. So here goes, with a quick look at some equivalent leaders.

  • Panama – population 3.8 million – President Juan Carlos Varela 158 retweets
  • Jamaica – population 2.7 million – Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller 11 retweets (great message, by the way… “May 2016 see your dreams come true. May you shine as never before, believe as never before and soar as never before”)
  • Macedonia – population 2.1 million – Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski 19 retweets

To be fair, there are plenty of mid-size countries whose leaders aren’t on twitter or didn’t bother with a new year’s greeting. My personal favourite is the Prime Minister of Lebanon, who clearly hasn’t managed his settings to avoid every post he makes on Facebook appearing in his twitter feed.

But there’s a bit more of a serious point here. If the First Minister of Wales can’t get a single elected politician in Wales other than Wayne David to retweet his new year message, maybe it’s not just the plebs who are losing faith in Carwyn. Perhaps the rot has set in within his own party.

By the time 2016’s out, there’s going to be another leader of the Labour Party in Wales, which of course means a new First Minister.

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Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

How Long is One Generation?

It came to light recently that the Labour Party in Wales is moving towards the devolution of further powers to Wales. The nature of the offer is covered in more detail elsewhere, but one thought on Owen Smith’s comments got me digging through the archives.

Mr Smith – Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, no less – is quoted as saying:

While devolution will evolve we are getting closer to the end game


I wonder how much he knows about the history of Labour Party activity in this area?

It was the blink of an eye in political terms when someone else – as it happens, someone mentioned in Nick Servini’s immediately preceding tweet – expressed a firm opinion about the state of devolution in Wales:

The Welsh Assembly will not need further devolution for another generation… Whatever changing circumstances we face over coming years there will be no case for a successor Government of Wales [Act] in the decades to come

The omission of the word [Act] from the quote might have been a slip of the tongue. Or he might have been quite serious that no Government of Wales other than the one in place in 2006 (Labour) has a place in Wales regardless of “changing circumstances”.

Anyway, Peter might want to try explaining the futility of his work to Paul Silk, and of course to the Liberal Democrats who wrought the Silk Commission as part of the coalition agreement with the Conservatives.

Of course, Peter Hain’s got a great track record in political fortune telling. After all, he did tell us that the 2011 referendum bestowing primary legislative powers on the National Assembly for Wales couldn’t be won under:

any [foreseeable] circumstances

I suppose in one respect Owen Smith is correct. After all, any further devolution of powers is closer to the end-game if the end is federation, independence or ‘more devolution’.

Which of these comes under Owen Smith’s definition of foreseeable circumstances?

Update: It turns out we have a new definition of the length of a generation. While Peter Hain defines a generation as 8 years, Paul Silk has defined it as 25 years. Hands up who thinks the devolution offerings in Silk will bring “stability for a generation – 25 years”?

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Filed under Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Welsh Government, Westminster

Target Seats in Wales: Lib Dems

A question to all my Liberal Democrat readers – do you want the good news first, or the bad news?

Bad news you say? The Lib Dems hold just one constituency seat from the most recent Welsh plebiscite.

And the good news? There are 39 seats just waiting to be won! And where are these fields of delight located? Hold onto your hats…

At the National Assembly the Lib Dems already hold: Brecon & Radnorshire. Surely that means that the top 10 will be crammed full of fantastic opportunities for the Lib Dems to make advances?

Sadly for the Lib Dems, the computer says no.

Because a toss-up for 10th place in this listing is between Gower and Preseli Pembrokeshire. And in the best-placed of those constituencies (Preseli Pembrokeshire), they’re nearly 35% behind the first-placed party. Let’s press ahead regardless with our top 10, seats of best potential first:

  • Cardiff Central
  • Ceredigion
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Swansea West
  • Newport East
  • Aberconwy
  • Wrexham
  • Pontypridd
  • Clwyd South
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire

Once again, we can ground-truth this assessment using the UK election results. And once again, it’s spot on – the Lib Dems already hold Cardiff Central and Ceredigion at Westminster, and Lebmit Opik used to hold Montgomeryshire for them until some cheeky fun put paid to that former Lib Dem stronghold.

But as for target seats – all the indications are that the 2015 election is going to be ‘challenging’ for the Lib Dems. No matter how many two horse races there are, in all probability the party’s going to be left looking at two Welsh MPs next time round. So this list of top 10 is a fantasy for Freedom Central. If they manage to hold onto all their current stock of MPs they’ll have pulled off a stunning electoral surprise.

I’ve already commented that Jenny Willott in Cardiff Central has a heck of a fight on her hands to retain the seat. How do things look for Mark Williams in Ceredigion? Well, he’s defending an 8,300 majority, or 22%. That would seem to put him firmly in control of the seat for 2015, unless he plays his cards stupendously badly over the next 23 months, or unless the Liberal Democrat party actually implodes. I think he’ll hang on, albeit with a substantially reduced majority.

Now I know that this series of posts is supposed to be about ambition and striving for the stars. But the Lib Dems are in a bit of a state in Wales. There are only 11 constituencies where they garnered more than 10% of the vote last time round. And to rub salt into their wounds, they scooped up less than 5% of the vote in 17 constituencies. Lost deposits in Wales alone cost them £8,500 in 2011.

Just for the record, the Lib Dems have no chance of regaining Montgomeryshire. Glyn Davies is a shrewd media operator and outspoken. So in those senses a bit like Lembit, except shrewd (I’m sure Glyn’ll be delighted with the accolade!). Glyn will extend his majority of a shade over 1,000 quite considerably. And if they stand no chance in Montgomeryshire, there’s no hope in any of the remaining top 10. In seat number 4 (Swansea West), for example, they’re 29% behind the incumbent.

Finally, I’ve mentioned the effect of UKIP on the Conservative vote already. But BlogMenai has surmised what it might mean for the Lib Dems in the next Assembly elections. His conclusion? “The Assembly would be a very lonely place for Kirsty Williams”.

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Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Westminster