Tag Archives: Ron Davies

The kindergarten

Antoinette Sandbach’s recent elevation to candidate – and sure-fire next MP – for Eddisbury in Cheshire got me thinking. What is the party political make-up of politicians moving from the Senedd to the Commons or vice versa?

Many other commentators have pointed out that it’s implicit in the direction of the move what an individual politician regards as the greater prize. There are many possible motives. For starters, there’s the financial inducement – and I don’t just mean the £74,000 salary of an MP as compared to the poverty-stricken (£64,000 from 2016) AMs. Once at Westminster, there are apparently no end of ways to bend the rules so you can stuff your snout as far and as deep in the trough as Chris Bryant likes.

Presumably some people rather like the pomp and ceremony of Westminster, the feeling of glory associated with being a part of the greater legislative body. Even if you’re only a miniscule, irrelevant guest at the party.

Of course, some politicians feel that Westminster is little but dumb, cold walls against which to hit your head and hands.

So on to the list…

Conservative Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Glyn Davies (1999-2007); (2010-present) Glyn had a 3-year break from politics following his defeat in the 2007 election
  • Alun Cairns (1999-2011); (2010-present) Alun was ‘double-jobbing’ from 2010 to 2011, without drawing the AM salary
  • David Davies (1999-2007); (2005-present) David held Monmouth as an AM and MP for two years
  • Antoinette Sandbach (2011-present); (2015 on) Antoinette will rescind her list seat in the Assembly

Conservative Members (Commons to Senedd)

 

Labour Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Alun Michael (1999-2000); (1987-2012); Alun didn’t relinquish his Commons seat whilst First Secretary

Labour Members (Commons to Senedd)

  • Ron Davies (1983-2001); (1999-2003); Ron left Labour, joining first Forward Wales and then Plaid Cymru
  • Rhodri Morgan (1987-2001); (1999-2011)
  • John Marek (1983-2001); (1999-2007); John was deselected by Labour before the 2003 election but was elected as an independent. Since losing his seat he has joined the Conservatives.

Plaid Members (Commons to Senedd)

Other Members (Senedd to Commons)

  • Peter Law (1999-2006); (2005-2006); Peter (a former Labour AM) was both MP and AM at the time of his death

This list isn’t quite as interesting as I’d imagined it would be. Perhaps that’s because I’ve missed some names off – do let me know if that’s the case. And there are some politicians who’ve swapped European seats for the green benches (Wayne David), and a fair few who’ve been tempted from the Assembly by the smell of ermine.

But at the very least it gives us a clear indication that the Conservatives are much more likely than the other parties to view Westminster as the ‘real’ Parliament, and the Senedd as the Kindergarten. The Lib Dems don’t appear on the list at all. Labour politicians have tended to gravitate to the Senedd, although the prize for the party that puts most emphasis on the Senedd goes to Plaid. That’s because a huge proportion of Plaid MPs who have ever sat in Westminster since the inauguration of the Welsh Parliament have shifted from London back to Wales. The exceptions are Elfyn Llwyd, Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams, who are all current MPs, and Adam Price, who has been selected as the candidate for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr in 2016‘s Assembly elections.

Should this surprise us? Not really. When it comes to the relative priority that the parties show towards the Welsh national interest, Plaid really are a light year ahead of the Unionist/British Nationalist parties.

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government, Westminster

Target Seats in Wales: Plaid

Plaid Cymru’s situation throws up a series of interesting findings. For the other parties, there was by and large a clear correlation: those seats where the party does well in share of the vote are those where it is relatively close to the incumbent party. For Plaid there are a slew of seats where they pick up a decent share of the vote (ten seats they don’t hold with 20% of the vote or more) but are way behind the victorious party. The reason is, of course, the Labour hegemony in south Wales.

So here are the stats for those keenest amongst us.

Plaid already hold: Arfon, Carmarthenshire East & Dinefwr, Ceredigion, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Ynys Môn.

And here’s the top 10, in order, of seats that Plaid will be eyeing up in 2015:

  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West
  • Rhondda
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire

This gives us an indication of the scale of the challenge facing Leanne Wood in her decision to contest Rhondda in 2016. The reason it’s only the 9th-best prospect is because Plaid were a massive 34% behind the first-placed party in the last poll, despite recording nearly 30% of the vote themselves. It’s a mountain to climb. People talk in awe about Alex Salmond’s astounding capture of Gordon in 2007. That required an increase in the share of the vote of merely 19%. Leanne needs an increase of 35%. Such a result would be spectacular and – excepting Brent East (itself a special case) – unprecedented.

Should Labour be complacent? The stats tell us a bit more of the story. Leighton Andrews’ 12,650 votes were only 1,400 more than Wayne David’s in 1999 – and would not have been enough to deny Geraint Davies from taking Rhondda in 1999. In that first Assembly election turnout was 50.2%; turnout in the last Assembly election was just 38%. It seems to suggest that when there’s an interesting political contest, turnout is boosted. And history suggests that the boost in turnout benefits one party more than any other.

Enough of Rhondda. Because we need to take account of the fact that Plaid don’t hold the same constituencies in both Parliaments, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn arrive at the top of the list, pushing Rhondda to 11th spot. Our list now looks like:

  • Ynys Môn
  • Ceredigion
  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West

It’s no surprise to see Ynys Môn at the top of the list. Following Plaid’s recent success in the local elections, and with Ieuan Wyn Jones announcing his resignation today, Plaid would be in pretty poor shape to lose the seat at the upcoming by-election. Expect lots of visits to the island from Peter Hain and other Labour big guns, and a non-stop discussion of Plaid’s uncomfortable position on nuclear. Following by-election success, Ynys Môn is clearly a major target for Plaid in 2015, with Albert Owen’s majority of under 2,500. Ieuan Wyn as the candidate, perhaps?!

Ceredigion has become a much more interesting contest with the selection of Mike Parker as candidate for Plaid. Mike is one of the most interesting candidates Plaid could have picked for this constituency. Erudite, English and engaging. Someone who can fire people’s imagination.

I said previously that Mark Williams would be “firmly in control of the seat for 2015”. Suddenly I’m not so sure. Let’s remember that Cynog Dafis pulled in an additional 8,200 votes to take Ceredigion for Plaid in 1992. And Mark’s majority? 8,300. Hold onto your hats!

Llanelli looks distinctly less achievable for Plaid in the UK election than at the Welsh election. Nia Griffith commands a 4,500 majority, and although that was reduced at the 2010 election, it was a poor election for Labour in general. And given that the totemic Ron Davies couldn’t take Caerphilly in an Assembly election that is always more benign for the Party of Wales, it’s not likely to fall in 2015. 

In the face of a Labour party expected to improve on its 2010 performance – although not spectacularly, given Ed Miliband’s struggling leadership – most of the rest of the top 10 look challenging. Add in the UK context under which UK elections are (unsurprisingly) fought, alongside the London-centric bias of the broadcast and print media, and the picture looks tough for gains of more than one seat. Holding onto Arfon will be enough to keep the troops busy between now and 2015.

10 Sylw

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

Plaid Cymru 2012

Once again Plaid fielded candidates in every ward. Their capacity to fill all the potential slots available appears to be increasing, with Stanwell and Sully the only wards with one candidate (as opposed to Cornerswell, Plymouth and Stanwell in 2008). Plaid’s inability to field the full slate of candidates in every ward means there’s an element of guesswork in determining performance.

As far as I can tell there are no estimates of the national share of the vote that Plaid, the Conservatives or Labour took in Wales. That may be a measure of multi-member wards, which makes it more difficult to attribute a share of the vote to particular parties (this is not an argument against multi-member wards – there are much stronger fundamental democratic reasons to oppose them). One way of more effectively measuring support in local elections where multi-member wards exist is to use the Single Transferable Vote, which enables an analysis of first preference votes. But why do they have it in Scotland and Northern Ireland but we don’t in Wales? After all, totting up the share of the vote is one of the least compelling reasons for moving to the STV system – here are some much more powerful arguments. And it’s the system of election recommended by the Sunderland Commission for Wales. The reason – as for many democratic deficiencies in Wales – is the result of internal party politics in the Labour Party, with former Assembly Member Peter Law forecasting “corridors running with blood” if the change were approved. And until the next Labour electoral disaster there’ll be no pressure from our lords and masters for a healthier democracy.

Back to Plaid. We can summarise the party’s performance thus:

  • Cornerswell – 27% down
  • Plymouth – 46% down
  • St. Augustine’s – 43% down
  • Stanwell – 20% down
  • Sully – 12% down

For the reasons stated in the posts, I don’t think that the results in Sully and Stanwell and strictly comparable with the others. And as I’ve noted above, these are the only wards where the party had just one candidate. So I’m going to use the three wards where we have directly comparable results in my analysis.

Plaid had a fairly disastrous set of elections in Penarth. They will refer to the London bias of the mediaand the lack of a mature national press in Wales as partly responsible. And although this is a story I will return to, the Secretary of State for Wales in consideration of establishment of the Assembly conceded:

There is obviously a strong case for broadcasting to be included in the assembly’s responsibilities. Broadcasting is important in Wales and there is a distinctive broadcasting agenda

But all parties have to operate in the current circumstances.

So what went on locally? Performance was comparable in Plymouth and St. Augustine’s, down about 45% on the 2008 results. But Cornerswell registered a fall of just 27%, so nearly 20% better than elsewhere in Penarth.

I’ve referred earlier to the dearth of election material for Plaid in Penarth – an absence that was rapidly eliminated in Cornerswell courtesy of Osian Lewis and Luke James. Since no other Plaid material came my way, I’m making the bold assumption that there wasn’t any.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if actually campaigning in a local election and delivering leaflets to your constituents made an impact in terms of your share of the vote? Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could find evidence somewhere that a combination of enthusiastic candidates and electoral material could boost your vote by 20%?

And is there a lesson for all parties here, and not just Plaid?

5 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Westminster