Tag Archives: Luke Nicholas

Penarth and Cardiff South: Plaid

I predicted that Plaid would come third in the by-election with 12% of the vote; in the event, Plaid were edged into fourth place by the Lib Dems, polling 9.5%. What does history tell us about this result?

Since the seat’s formation in 1983, Plaid have mainly spent their time writing cheques for £500 (ok, £150 in 1983 for the pedants amongst you!). The Labour landslide of 1997 was the first election in which Plaid registered more than 1.6% of the vote. And since the start of this century, Plaid have hovered around 5% of the vote, sometimes keeping and sometimes losing their deposit. So the 9.5% vote gained in November 2012 must rank as a huge success, right?

I’m not so sure.

In terms of share of the vote, it’s a big improvement on their best-ever performances in 2001 and 2005 (both 5.5%). But let’s bear in mind the special circumstances of this election. Firstly it was held in the absence of a strong UK focus, which meant it was a more ‘Welsh’ vote than in UK general elections. That in itself would indicate that we would expect Plaid’s share of the vote to be closer to its Assembly results than Westminster. And if we look at the Assembly elections, Plaid has never registered less than 12.1% of the vote in this constituency. Secondly, Plaid was able to expend more effort (both in terms of election pamphlets and door-knocking effort) than we would ever reasonably expect during a general election. And thirdly, it was held in the context of a deeply unpopular Conservative-Lib Dem UK government and a Labour Party led by someone that is widely regarded as an electoral liability.

The fact that Plaid were unable to pip the Lib Dems to third place would I’m sure have been a disappointment to them. But perhaps most troubling for the Plaid leadership is the total number of votes cast: 1,854. One of Plaid’s advantages over most of the other parties is the fidelity of its core supporters. But looking at the election result in 2011 (1,851 votes), all of Plaid’s huffing and puffing in the run-up to the by-election persuaded a grand total of three more people to vote for them than had the previous year.

Perhaps it won’t come as a surprise to you to learn that this seat is number 22 (out of 35) on Plaid’s hit-list. Pretty low down by all accounts. But not low down enough. I’m going to be examining the seats that all parties must win in order to have an outright majority in Cardiff Bay in due course. But the bad news for Plaid is that Penarth and Cardiff South is one of them. And on the evidence from the by-election, we’ll be waiting a long, long time for a Plaid majority at the National Assembly for Wales.

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Plaid Cymru, 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.

2 Sylw

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%

9 Sylw

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

The Star Hustings

This is a guest post description of the election hustings in the Star Leisure Centre, with grateful thanks to D. For an alternative view of the hustings, you might like to try this site.

The main headlines (at least in my view) are that Plaid Cymru’s Luke Nicholas and the Lib Dems’ Bablin Molik have both seen their election
prospects go up in smoke.

They were forced to admit that their respective parties had initiated and supported the controversial Splott Viridor incinerator project.
Both claimed that personally they were totally against it – but eventually had to admit, under questioning from the audience, that
their respective parties had supported the project.

The second issue was that Stephen Doughty (Labour) and Craig Williams (Conservative) were both “no-shows” . Substituting for Doughty (but
leaving the meeting early after barely an hour) was Vaughan Gething AM. The excuse he gave for  Doughty’s absence is that he was attending
a “prearranged event in Grangetown with Owen Smith the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales”. (The Communist candidate Robert
Griffiths said if it had been him he would have cancelled Owen Smith and given the hustings meeting priority.)

Questioned on whether an incoming Labour government would scrap plans to replace the Trident system, Gething floundered and said he had
“genuinely had no idea what Stephen’s position is on  nuclear weapons”. As he left Gething got into an altercation with a member of
the Splott anti-incinerator campaign who has asked him to make a donation. He refused – and left, but was.clearly so riled by the
encounter he returned to the meeting to remonstrate with the woman – accusing her of showing “lack of respect”.to him. It was great fun.

Meanwhile David Melding AM substituted for Craig Williams whose excuse was that he and his wife had had to take their baby to
hospital. Frankly I don’t think either excuse was acceptable – particularly Doughty’s – whom people at the hustings meeting accused of displaying
“discourtesy” and behaving as if the election was “already in the bag”.

The Green candidate Anthony Slaughter actually acquitted himself quite well. Slaughter criticised the incinerator project pointing out
that all the main parties in the election had been complicit in letting this scheme go ahead – including the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru.
He said the combustion by-products from the incinerator would affect Penarth as well as Splott and Cardiff Bay .

Mr Slaughter also drew special attention to the poor air quality in Cogan which he said was “One class of people being submitted to the
emissions of another class of people” and pointed out that if the entire world behaved like America we would need 9 planets to live on
(six, apparently, everyone on earth lived at the UK’s standard of living).

The Socialist Labour Party’s candidate Andrew Jordan was the third “no-show” of the night – so a stand in represented him (badly)

The UKIP candidate, Simon Zeigler, who is reported in the Penarth Times to have once been a butler to the Earl of Faversham said he had
been a left-winger all his life and a committed trade unionist who had once been a local Labour party chairman and worked in transport house
and the House of Commons (as a waiter). He admitted that whilst there, he had actually tried out the green leather seats (on both sides of
the House).

Somewhat to the astonishment of the audience – which contained quite a few trades unionists – Zeigler said that if elected he would press for
the immediate abolition of the Thatcher anti-trade-union legislation. Asked by a bemused audience if this was UKIP policy – he said it was
HIS policy – and that UKIP itself didn’t have a policy on trade unions.

2 Sylw

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

They Need to Start Listening

Thanks to Luke Nicholas for sending through the next instalment of literature coming through the letterboxes of Penarth.

And it’s a pleasant surprise this time, because this is the stand-out best designed leaflet of the campaign. It has a nice font, good use of colours, a very pleasing mix of images, text and white space, and links to the campaign on social media. And of course, it’s bilingual. If I must register a complaint with the images, he should have picked a better background for the head and shoulders shot. But overall well done team Plaid!

So how about the content?

We have a repeat of the plea to “send a real message” to the UK Government that “they need to start listening” – this is standard fayre for all parties that aren’t represented in the UK Government, naturally. And we get some background about Luke, although the fact that he specifies his “sound knowledge of transport and economy issues” leads one to ask which policy fields he doesn’t have a sound knowledge of. Perhaps “excellent knowledge” would have been better? But Luke is at least accustomed to failure, given that he’s a keen follower of the Wales football team. That will stand him in good stead on the evening of the 15th November.

We’re then treated to three policy suggestions:

  • A Welsh Procurement Bill to make it easier for businesses in Wales to win contracts in Wales
  • Winning jobs and apprenticeships for Wales
  • A rail service “run for the good of people, not for shareholders” – nationalisation, or the Glas Cymru model?

Ok, so the second of these is more of a statement of mission, rather than a policy. But the other two have real merit. Given that we need local businesses to be buoyant in order to improve the lot of people in Wales, any means by which Welsh businesses can more effectively compete for a slice of the procurement cake has to be good news. In fact Luke’s understating the case, because public sector procurement is worth £4.5bn in Wales. And unlike some of Luke’s opponents in this election, he’s made sure that the leaflet is printed in Wales (Swansea – not within the constituency, but a good deal better than Barnsley, Horncastle, London Industrial Park or Stockport).

And on railways, it’s universally accepted – even by the Conservatives, who brought in the policy – that privatisation of the railways has been an unmitigated disaster. In fact, we’ve ended up with nationalised railways elsewhere in Europe running railways in Wales and elsewhere in the UK, pocketing the profits presumably to reinvest in services in the Netherlands and Germany. So let’s bring them back into some sort of public ownership model that will see the money we pay in fares and taxes (the Wales and Borders franchise is the most heavily subsidised franchise in the UK by us, taxpayers, via the Welsh Government) reinvested in Wales instead of continental Europe. And if that means kicking out a government that has refused to allow Scotland to do just that, we’ll need to see how that can be done in 2015.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Election Address from Plaid Cymru

The English language version is below.

Ni all is-etholiad De Caerdydd a Phenarth benderfynu pwy sydd mewn llywodraeth. Yn hytrach, dyma gyfle perffaith i yrru neges i Lywodraeth y DG.

Yr unig neges a gaiff ymateb yw ethol AS Plaid Cymru. Fi fyddai AS cyntaf Plaid  yng Nghaerdydd a’r Fro. Byddai unrhyw ganlyniad arall yn cael ei anwybyddu a ni fyddai’n cael unrhyw effaith ar bolisi Llywodraeth y DG. Efallai bod hyn yn eich synnu, ond dyma’r gwir yn anffodus.

Yn yr etholiad hwn mae Plaid yn rhoi swyddi, yn enwedig ar gyfer pobl ifanc, ar frig eu rhestr blaenoriaethau gwleidyddol. Mae gormod o bobl yn colli allan oherwydd y toriadau i swyddi a nawdd cymdeithasol. Fel mater o gyfiawnder cymdeithasol mae Plaid Cymru yn gwrthwynebu’r toriadau cyfredol i nawdd cymdeithasol, a ni chredwn y bydd y rhain yn creu swyddi yng Nghymru.

Mae’r economi yng Nghymru yn parhau yn gymharol fwy gwan  na’r DG gyfan, ac mae polisïau sy’n bodoli gan y pleidiau gwahanol wedi’u lleoli yn Llundain yn peryglu gwneud y bwlch yma’n fwy. Agenda Plaid Cymru yw ffyniant economaidd i gael ei ddosbarthu ledled cenhedloedd a rhanbarthau’r DG yn hytrach na chael ei ganolbwyntio yn ne-ddwyrain Lloegr. Enghraifft o hyn yw’r ymgyrch gan Jonathan Edwards AS i sicrhau cyfran Gymreig o’r buddsoddiad mewn rheilffyrdd cyflym yn Lloegr. Rydym hefyd eisiau rhoi mwy o bwerau creu swyddi yn nwylo Llywodraethau Cymru’r dyfodol, yn enwedig lle gellir ysgogi buddsoddiad, megis drwy ddatganoli seilwaith rheilffyrdd a mwy o bwerau dros y fasnachfraint rheilffyrdd Cymreig nesaf.  Yn hanesyddol nid yw ASau o bleidiau eraill yn barod i frwydro dros hyn. Mae tîm Plaid Cymru gryfach felly yn hanfodol os yw anghenion economaidd Cymru am gael eu gwireddu.

Rwyf hefyd eisiau ffocws penodol ar Benarth gan ein AS nesaf. Mae Penarth a Chaerdydd yn ddibynnol ar ei gilydd ond mae’n rhaid i ni hyrwyddo hunaniaeth a chymeriad unigryw’r dref. Rwy’n deall hyn gan y cefais fy magu yn y Barri a gyda chysylltiadau â’r Fro.

Mae cymdeithas ar y cyfan wedi colli ei ffydd mewn gwleidyddiaeth. Yr argyfwng economaidd, ymchwiliad Leveson, yr anghyfiawnder a ddioddefwyd gan deuluoedd dioddefwyr Hillsborough, ac yr agwedd diffyg-cyswllt o lywodraethau yn San Steffan- maent i gyd wedi cyfrannu at ddiffyg ffydd a hyder pobl mewn gwleidyddiaeth.  Mae miloedd o bobl wedi stopio pleidleisio oherwydd mewn nifer o etholaethau maent yn ei weld fel rhywbeth dibwynt. Mae hyn yn cynnwys haen o bobl yng Nghymru.

Pryd oedd y tro diwethaf i Gymru fod ar frig agenda cabinet y DG? Nid yw ein heconomi wedi bod yn flaenoriaeth am amser hi; rydym wedi mewn diclein dros yr ugain mlynedd diwethaf. Ai dyma’r gorau y gellir fod?

Rydym dal angen llais cryf yn San Steffan. Ond rhaid gwneud rhywbeth gyda’r llais yna wedyn.

Ar y llaw arall, mae’n rhai i ni fod yn barod i wneud pethau’n wahanol. Mae hyn yn golygu pleidleisio dros bleidiau gwahanol. Nid yw fy hanes teuluol na chymeriad De Caerdydd a Phenarth yn nodweddiadol o Blaid Cymru yn y gorffennol. Ond

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The Cardiff South & Penarth by-election cannot decide who is in government. Instead, this is a perfect opportunity to send a message to the UK Government.

The only message that will be noticed is if we elect a Plaid Cymru MP. I would be the first ever Plaid MP in Cardiff and the Vale. Any other result will effectively be ignored and will not have any impact on UK Government policy. This may well sound alarming, but it is an unforunate truth.

In this election Plaid is putting jobs, especially for young people, at the top of the political priorities list. Too many people are losing out because of the cuts to jobs and social security. As a matter of social justice Plaid Cymru opposes the current cuts to social security, and do not believe these will help create jobs in Wales.

The economy in Wales remains relatively weaker than the UK as a whole, and existing policies from the various London-based parties risk making this gap wider. Plaid Cymru’s agenda is for economic prosperity to be distributed throughout the UK nations and regions rather than being concentrated in the south-east of England. An example of this is the campaign by Jonathan Edwards MP to secure a Welsh share of the investment in High-Speed rail in England. We also want to put more job-creating powers in the hands of future Welsh Governments, particularly where they can stimulate investment, such as through the devolution of rail infrastructure and more powers over the next Welsh rail franchise. History tells us that MPs of the other parties will simply not fight for this to happen. A stronger Plaid Cymru team is therefore essential if Wales’ economic needs are going to be realised.

I also want a specific focus on Penarth from our next MP. Penarth and Cardiff are interdependent but we most promote the town’s unique identity and character. I understand this because I grew up in Barry and have connections to the Vale.

Society has largely lost faith in politics.The economic crisis, the Leveson inquiry, the injustice suffered by the families of the Hillsborough victims, and the general out-of-touch attitude of successive governments in Westminster – all have contributed to the breakdown people’s trust and faith in politics. Several million people have simply stopped voting because in many constituencies it is perceived to be pointless. This includes a layer of people in Wales.

When was the last time Wales was at the top of the UK cabinet agenda? Our economy has not been their priority for a long time; we have been in decline for the past twenty years. Is this as good as it gets?

We still need a strong voice in Westminster. But having a strong voice is about quality, not quantity.

To chart a different course, we need to be prepared to do things differently. This means voting for different parties. My family history and the make-up of Cardiff South & Penarth are not typical of Plaid Cymru in

This election address was written by Luke Nicholas, Plaid Cymru candidate in the Penarth and Cardiff South by-election. It has been edited to keep within 500 words. 

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Plaid Cymru, 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.

12 Sylw

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