Tag Archives: Stephen Doughty

Track Record: Albert Owen

I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:

  • Strongly in favour of an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
  • Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
  • Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
  • Strongly opposed to the NHS providing services to private patients
  • Moderately against introducing ID cards
  • Strongly opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail
  • Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
  • Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
  • Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
  • Strongly opposed to raising VAT
  • Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
  • Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
  • Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
  • Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
  • Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
  • Strongly in favour of a transparent UK Parliament
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what does Albert Owen’s voting record reveal about his activity over the past five years?

Well, on several of these issues, Albert is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. For example, unlike his Labour colleague Stephen Doughty, he voted in favour of more benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Albert:

  • Voted moderately in favour of wasting £100 billion on a relic of the Cold War (Trident)
  • Voted both for and against military aggression in foreign wars, and very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
  • Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
  • Voted for and against a transparent UK Parliament
  • Has voted a mixture of for and against more powers for Wales, but voted in favour of more powers for local councils

Let’s see how Albert’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Albert can’t decide whether or not he’s in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. He didn’t even turn up to the vote declaring war on Iraq in 2003. People dying in these conflicts are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Ynys Môn, which is one of the poorest places in the whole of the UK, and far and away the poorest in Wales (measured as GVA per capita). But when it comes to holding governments to account for their illegal wars, woah! The last thing Albert wants is a report highly likely to be most damaging to his Labour Party to be published just before the voters get to hold that party to account for it. After all, if you give these things enough time, people start to forget about them. The Chilcot report finished taking evidence in 2011.

He’s also gung ho for running down public services in favour of the most expensive weapons of mass destruction on the planet. That’s notwithstanding the fact that public opposition to renewing this Imperialist Viagra is resolute in opinion polls at both UK and local scales. “Bairns not bombs” as the Scottish independence campaign so eloquently put it.

Bizarrely, he’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Ynys Môn has several wards in which income levels are extremely low – most especially in Holyhead, which ironically is Albert’s home town.

He’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.

And he’s happy to keep Wales – and her branch secretary Carwyn Jones – on the Westminster leash. Carwyn has said that withholding powers on energy from Wales is “wrong in principle and wrong in probably every other way”. Might that be of interest to Albert Owen? Not a bit of it. Albert voted against the transfer of powers over energy to Wales. In fact, it surprises me that Albert was present at all to bother to vote against Wales’ national interests. After all, he only bothered to show up for 2 of the 10 key votes on transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.

You’d probably expect a record such as that for a puppy of the Labour party. He’s voted against his party a grand total of 8 times in 908 votes. But while he was happy to do down the Welsh people through voting against our interests or not bothering to turn up to vote, he was happy enough to transfer more powers to local councils.

For more information about John Rowlands, his main (Plaid) challenger for the seat of Ynys Môn, you can find his twitter feed here, his facebook account here and his LinkedIn account here.

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2 Sylw

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

Track Record: Stephen Doughty

I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:

  • Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
  • Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
  • Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
  • Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
  • Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
  • Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
  • Strongly opposed to raising VAT
  • Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
  • Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
  • Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
  • Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
  • Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what’s Stephen Doughty’s voting record reveal about his activity over the past two and a half years?

Well, on several of these issues, Stephen is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Stephen:

  • Voted strongly in favour of military aggression in foreign wars
  • Voted very strongly in favour of wasting £100 billion on a relic of the Cold War (Trident)
  • Has never bothered to vote on higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
  • Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
  • Has never bothered to vote on reform of the House of Lords
  • Voted very strongly in favour of more powers for Scotland – but only moderately for more powers for Wales

Let’s see how Stephen’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Stephen’s all in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. The people dying are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Cardiff South.

He’s also gung ho for running down public services in favour of the most expensive weapons of mass destruction on the planet. That’s notwithstanding the fact that public opposition to renewing this Imperialist Viagra is resolute in opinion polls at both UK and local scales. “Bairns not bombs” as the Scottish independence campaign so eloquently put it.

He doesn’t appear to care one way or the other if sick or disabled people get more money to help them cope with being unemployed and incapacitated. That’s despite some of the wards in the constituency in which he’s running reporting the highest levels of sickness and incapacity in Wales, let alone the UK. Presumably Stephen’s counting on remaining fit as a fiddle until drawing his pension.

Bizarrely, he’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. Again, the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Cardiff South is replete with wards in which income levels are extremely low.

He’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.

He has no interest in democratising the second chamber of Parliament, despite the fact that it’s stuffed full of party donors, super-rich hereditary landowners and people who’ve been totally, unflinchingly loyal to their parties. People, in fact, like Stephen (who has never rebelled against his party since being elected).

And he’s much more eager for Scotland to be granted further powers than he is for more powers to come to Wales. Far be it for me to suggest that narrow self-interest is a motive, but there are plenty of thinkers who suggest that greater transfer of powers to Wales will inevitably mean a reduction in the number of MPs.

Here’s Stephen’s latest election missive (with thanks to reader PW).

Update: Stephen has contested some of the claims of TheyWorkForYou.com. I’ll take any comments on board as soon as I have the opportunity, and update the post as necessary.

1 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Westminster

Penarth and Cardiff South: Lib Dems

The Lib Dems will be thanking their lucky stars the election was held a year ago. Following their abject performance in Ynys Môn, not to mention by-elections in England, this is a party for which any by-election is now a potential disaster area.

I’d predicted the Lib Dems would slip to fourth place with 9% of the vote. In the event, they retained third place with 10.8% of the vote, a reduction in share of the vote of 11.5%. Only in 1992 and 1997 have the Liberal Democrats fared worse.

So where does Penarth and Cardiff South sit in the Lib Dem ranking of target seats? By strange coincidence, it’s their 12th-most likely seat to win (the coincidence being that it’s also the 12th-most likely to fall to the Conservatives). That means that there are a whopping 27 seats that are less fruitful for the Lib Dems in Wales than this one. That sentence will probably make grim reading for all my Lib Dem readers. Because while winning this seat is a theoretical possibility for the Conservatives (being just 5.4% away from victory at one point in history), it doesn’t seem at all likely for the Lib Dems.

It’s a particular set-back for the party that used to control Cardiff Council with a hefty majority as recently as 2012, including holding the Butetown ward (beating a certain Vaughan Gething into second place), all three councillors in Grangetown, and one each of the three seats in Splott and in Trowbridge.

And what of the Lib Dem candidate, Bablin Molik? Well, I’m intrigued to read that she’s

the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate in the up and coming Cardiff South & Penarth by-election.

Either the Lib Dems know something about Stephen Doughty that the rest of us don’t, or it’s taken them 10 months and counting to update their website. Mind you, this is a party for whom having an updated website is the least of their concerns…

 

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Westminster

Penarth and Cardiff South: Labour

For those of you puzzled by my approach to this series of posts, it’s in alphabetical order. I’m putting the Communists with Socialist Labour and the Greens in ‘Other Parties’ at the end. Apologies to those whose sensibilities are grossly offended.

Labour will have felt pretty happy with themselves. My prediction was for Labour to get 48% and their actual result was 47.3%. Result!

This was clearly a seat that they were never going to lose. Even vindictive Labour bully Desmond Hughes would have been a shoe-in here. So let’s have a quick look at previous results and see how Stephen Doughty’s result and majority compare with others since the seat’s formation.

The margin of victory – 27.4% – ranks 3rd out of 8, which is pretty good going since James Callaghan only managed a 5.5% margin in his final election. Although some might find it amazing that Stephen wasn’t able to eclipse all of Alun Michael’s results, given:

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.

And you’d hardly expect his majority of 5,334 to rank among the stunning majorities because – unsurprisingly for this wholly predictable solid Labour constituency – a pathetically small proportion of people (25.7%) could be bothered to drag themselves out of bed to vote. Mind you, we already know that voting for Westminster is meaningless in almost every election, so perhaps it’s the 25.7% who are the mugs. However Stephen did manage to get a bigger majority than Alun Michael in 2010 and 1987, and James Callaghan back in ’83.

So there’s not really an awful lot for us to learn from Labour’s result. A steady, not stellar performance in one of their safest seats.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Westminster

The Contestables

So this post is the contrepoint to the last, during which we determined that there will be 15 seats which cannot possibly change hands in the 2015 UK election. So if you live in Penarth then you’re stuck with Stephen Doughty, whose election as our MP I announced 4 months early. That may be a good or bad thing from your viewpoint. What is certain is that it’s a bad thing for more people than it’s a good thing, as a result of our tired first-past-the-post system that renders so many seats in Wales – in so many different elections – totally pointless non-contests.

Enough of doubting the system. But ‘The Impregnables’ got me thinking, following on from this comment:

These ultra-safe seats are important for political parties for much more reason than it’s nice to have them in the bank. Firstly, almost no electoral effort has to be made, which means that the parties can target their resources at other seats – either to defend or to expand their territory. But secondly, and most importantly, these politicians can concentrate on the machinations of government or legislation, without worrying too much about their constituents. It means that they can become Ministers, or focus on becoming experts in subject areas, can serve with distinction on Committees and toady up to lobbyists without casting one eye over their shoulder at their electorate.

How many of today’s Welsh Ministers represent impregnable constituencies?

  • Carwyn Jones – Bridgend – impregnable
  • Jeff Cuthbert – Caerphilly – not impregnable
  • Alun Davies – Blaenau Gwent – impregnable
  • Mark Drakeford – Cardiff West – not impregnable
  • John Griffiths – Newport East – impregnable
  • Lesley Griffiths – Wrexham – not impregnable
  • Edwina Hart – Gower – not impregnable
  • Jane Hutt – Vale of Glamorgan – not impregnable
  • Huw Lewis – Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney – impregnable
  • Carl Sargeant – Alyn & Deeside – impregnable

and the Deputy Ministers:

  • Vaughan Gething – Penarth & Cardiff South – impregnable
  • Ken Skates – Clwyd South – not impregnable
  • Gwenda Thomas – Neath – not impregnable

Labour has 29 constituency Assembly Members, 14 of whom are impregnable. So it looks like Carwyn’s sticking with the probabilistic outcome that he pays no attention to how safe a seat they represent by a 50% count of impregnable Ministers (adding in the Deputies pushes it slightly under 50%). If that’s not interesting then at least it’s a now-established fact.

But back to the contestables.

How do I determine which seats are contestable? I’m going to sift them according to the parties either holding the seat or for whom the sesat is a top 10 target. So, drum roll, let’s look at those seats chased by all four parties:

  • Aberconwy – realistic contestants (>20% of vote) – Conservative, Plaid, Labour
  • Clwyd South – realistic contestants – Labour, Conservative

Next those seats where three parties are in with a shout:

  • Cardiff Central – realistic contestants – Labour, Lib Dem
  • Cardiff North – realistic contestants – Labour, Conservative
  • Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South – realistic contestants – Conservative, Labour, Plaid
  • Clwyd West – realistic contestants – Conservative, Labour, Plaid
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire – realistic contestants – Conservative, Labour
  • Vale of Glamorgan – realistic contestants – Labour, Conservative
  • Vale of Clwyd – realistic contestants – Labour, Conservative
  • Ynys Mon – realistic contestants – Plaid, Conservative, Labour

Well, I don’t know about you, but that analysis feels unsatisfactory. What we’re really looking for is a ranking, based on statistics. So let’s reassess our methodology. Firstly, the margin of victory must be the key sign of a contested seat. That’s our first basis of calculation. But there is a factor associated with a seat being contested by more than two parties. So I’m going to assign an additional weighting for the ‘multiple contestant factor’ – that is, where more than one party is within a certain percentage of the 2011 victor.

This is the top 10 contested constituencies in Wales, in order of most contested (if you’re interested in the following 10 or my methodology, take a peep at the calculations here):

  • Cardiff Central
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Aberconwy
  • Llanelli
  • Cardiff North
  • Ceredigion
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
  • Ynys Mon
  • Montgomeryshire

There are a few surprises in amongst that lot. Why is the Vale of Glamorgan ranked only at number 11, for example? Clearly some of our top 10 are less likely to change hands than the Vale. That’s because I ranked all parties equally when considering the marginality of seats. And I’ve already noted that some parties will be looking to expand their holdings while others will be struggling to hold their current crop. But I’d be willing to bet that of those seats that change hands in 2015, several of them will be on this list of Contestables. And funnily enough, not one Minister holds a seat in the top 10…

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru

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

I agree with Alun

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been critical of Alun Michael in the past.

But today he said something rather sensible:

People don’t want people on the beat just for the sake of seeing them,” he argued.

“The public are more sophisticated than just asking for bobbies on the beat.

“What they want is to know that the police are there when they need them, that they are tackling their priorities and that they respond quickly when they need to ask the police to deal with an incident or events.

I couldn’t agree more. I think the public is more sophisticated than just asking for bobbies on the beat in an impotent show of publicity.

So perhaps Alun should have a few quiet words with this guy, who has said recently:

Local people are really feeling the effects of cuts to services and numbers of local police on the street…

My pledge to you: Keep police on the beat

Clearly he doesn’t think the public in Penarth and Cardiff South is very sophisticated.

 

2 Sylw

Filed under Labour, Police