May 152014
 

Standing for election on May 22 to Wales’ four European Parliament seats are no fewer than eleven ‘parties’ (I use the term loosely), each putting up the ordained four candidates. Though lEuro Candidates 2014ooking at some of those candidates it becomes clear that their parties have not so much scraped the bottom of the barrel as gone through the barrel bottom and kept going. But that’s just the opinion of a cynical old bastard who long ago lost faith in politicians and political systems. Anyway, form your own opinions as I run through the parties and candidates in alphabetical order. The full list is on the right (click to enlarge). Each section heading contains a link to that party’s website.

BRITAIN FIRST

Despite the name, this crew is fielding candidates in Wales and Scotland only.

Britain First has already gained considerable notoriety by being allowed – by the Electoral Commission – to use ‘Remember Lee Rigby’ on the ballot papers. The party was founded in May 2011 by Jim Dowson, with lead candidate Paul Gosling as chairman. Though one mystery must be why another founder member, former BNP organiser for Wales and 2009 BNP Euro candidate, Kevin Edwards, is not on the list. Following the break-up of his marriage, and after quitting the BNP in February 2011, Edwards moved from Llandybie (near Ammanford) to Llansamlet in Swansea which, along with neighbouring Bonymaen, is where many of the city’s fascists can be found.

Britain First founder Jim Dowson is also ex-BNP and perhaps into fundamentalist Christianity and hostility to Islam more than direct and blatant racism. A former Scottish Calvinist minister who apparently believes in the death penalty for gays and is fanatically anti-abortion, Dowson has also been a busy boy in the Six Counties, founding Protestant Coalition. So it makes sense that Britain First should be standing in Scotland – targetting the Rangers / Orange Order vote – but why Wales, because as far as I can make out, none of them is Welsh.

BRITISH NATIONAL PARTYGary Tumulty

Next we have the (as yet) unsplintered BNP. Top of their list is a man many think should not be standing at all because, in a parallel dimension, Mike Whitby of Wrecsam is disqualified from becoming a member of a county council or similar authority, but this, it seems, does not extend to the European parliament. Number two on the list is Laurence Reid, an Ulster Protestant domiciled in Wales. Jean Griffin at number three is presumably party leader Nick Griffin’s wife or daughter (possibly his French cousin). While the one with the least chance of being elected is Gary Tumulty of Salford . . . unless he guns down all the other candidates. Again, it’s encouraging that none of these people are Welsh.

CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY

As if Britain First and the BNP weren’t enough, this is yet another bunch of anglo-centric, Unionist fanatics, whe believe that the Ninth Circle of Hell is located somewhere in the English Channel. Regarding our little patch of earth, the message may be more muted than that from the clown troupes mentioned earlier, and said with a smile rather than a snarl, but don’t be fooled, it’s the same message – ‘Wales and England are the same country, and that’s how we like it’.

Top of the Tory list is current MEP Dr. Kay Swinburne who, though Welsh, now lives in the tiroedd coll, which seems to agitate the bruvvers who have just selected young Kinnock. Number two is Councillor Aled Wyn Davies of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant & Llansilin (a home of Glyndŵr). Number three is Dr. Dan Boucher who lives in Morriston and does a nice line in self-promotion. Bringing up the Tory rear (and haven’t we all thought about a Tory rear at one time or another?) is Richard Hopkin, a lawyer, who may or may not be the same Richard Hopkin described by his employer as a “pugnacious litigator”. Grrrr! Here’s a link to the introductory video for the lot.

GREEN PARTY

There is a separate Scottish Green Party that has always backed independence, while we have to suffer the Green Party of Englandandwales, a bunch of English middle class colons no different to those in other parties who believe that we Welsh must be told what’s best for us, with our country a laboratory for the policies they’d never be allowed to implement in their homeland. Although standing as a party in these elections their real forte is as a pressure group, where they enjoy influence way beyond their political support by playing on the questionable assertion that people want green policies even if they aren’t prepared to vote Green. Clever, and worth studying. Though Plaid Cymru has mis-read the message and contemplates a formal alliance.

I can’t be bothered to make enquiries about Pippa Bartolotti, John Matthews, Chris Were or Rozz Cutler.

LABOUR PARTY

The usual uninspiring crew that brings home yet again how ‘stretched’ once-mighty Labour is to find candidates for Europe, Westminster, the Assembly, and 22 local authorities. Thank God we don’t have as many quangoes as in the past, and that civil servants have taken over the running of devolution.

Derek Vaughan tops the list as the current MEP, a former trade unionist and leader of Neath Port Talbot council and said to be a ‘tidy bloke’. Vaughan is certain to be elected so the interest is really on the second name on the Labour list, Jayne Bryant, born in Newport, who could also be elected if Plaid and the Tories do badly and the anticipated Ukip surge does not materialise. At number 3 we have Councillor Alex Thomas, who represents the Rhos ward, also in Neath Port Talbot. The no-hoper is Christina Rees, formerly Mrs Ron Davies; not wishing to be reminded of her husband’s behaviour she wrote a book about it, The Davies Diaries, though she did later apologise. Alec Dauncey

Worth noting that there is no Labour candidate from west of Neath or, indeed, from north of  Neath.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Where to start (says he, wishing he didn’t have to)? Those who know me know that I reserve a special kind of contempt for Liberal Democrats and liberals of all kinds. I regard them as smug, wishy-washy wankers.

The Lib Dem quartet is headed up by Alec Dauncey who lives in Aberystwyth. Now Alec may enjoy a skinful of lager and a bag of chips of a Saturday night before throwing up the diced carrots on the way home . . . but I doubt it. To me, the picture shows a professional tree-hugger in a polo neck sweater more likely to be found listening to a cupped-ear folk singer while unwinding with a glass of organic cider. His bio is a gem, taking political prose to previously uncharted depths of vacuity. But it is so typically Liberal Democrat.

Number two is another Englishman, Robert Speht, living in Swansea. This one a wind turbine-hugger with a string of failed business ventures and an unpaid sandwich bill to his name. Speht lives in Mayals, one of Swansea’s poshest neighbourhoods which, because it lies within the fiercely defended borders of Mumbles community council, provided Speht with the chance to use the title ‘Councillor’ after losing his city council seat. Said – even by colleagues – to be unreliable he struck up a weird friendship with Richard ‘Tricky Dicky’ Lewis when Lewis, having tried all the rest, eventually fell in with the Lib Dems, mainly because they promised him his year in the Mansion House. To understand how unlikely a Liberal Democrat Richard Lewis is just try to imagine Ghengis Khan the pacifist. Lewis was sighted on April 30 entering the Liberty Stadium to hear Nigel Farage.

The other two candidates are Jackie Radford and Bruce Roberts, of whom I know nothing, and care even less.

NO2EU

Don’t be fooled by the name, for this is not another ‘Wogs begin at Dover’ party. It can’t be, for I see the name of Comrade Robert Griffiths topping their list, as he did in 2009. Robert Griffiths, stalwart of the long defunct Welsh Socialist Republican Movement (also, so some would have it, the Workers Army for a Welsh Republic). Robert Griffiths the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain. (Marxist-Leninist, I believe.) So we’ve obviously arrived on the hard left.

Of the other NO2EU candidates I know nothing . . .

PLAID CYMRU

For Plaid Cymru / The Party of Wales this is a very important election. Opinion polls suggest they might lose their MEP Jill Evans. If that happens, then I can see real soul-searching within a party that has lost its way.

The problem for Plaid Cymru is that Labour in Wales has cleverly painted Welsh politics as a simple picture of them defending Wales against ‘London’ – even when Labour is in power in London. This is what the ‘send a message to London’ (by voting Labour) is all about, even for European and Assembly elections!  Then, because Plaid does little more than promote itself as ‘Labour, but a bit more Welsh, like’, it is, effectively, marginalised. Plaid’s only hope is to get out of Labour’s shadow and re-position itself as a genuinely Welsh party, taking up the issues other parties ignore, and addressing the big issues from an aggressively Welsh standpoint. But it won’t.

In many ways this state of affairs is regrettable, for in Jill Evans, Marc Jones, Stephen Cornelius and Ioan Bellin the party has a strong team. That said, it might still be best for the long term if Plaid was to lose its seat.

Footnote: Plaid’s number 4 candidate in 2009 was the apple of her daddy’s eye, Natasha Asghar. Happy days!

SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY

Formed in 1996 by Arthur Scargill – who is still ‘Leader’ – the SLP is perhaps the only hard left group that would need something bigger than a telephone booth for its meetings. It claims a direct line of ideological descent from James Connolly, and quotes him in its website header. But there were, in a sense, two James Connollys. One, the Edinburgh-born British socialist; the other, the man who returned to his ConwyIrish roots, formed the Citizen Army, and was executed (though wounded) in Kilmainham jail by the British army after the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. The SLP reveres the former.

Despite being one of the larger minor parties the SLP’s candidates are hardly household names, even in their own households, but here they are anyway. At number one we have Andrew Jordan, who stood in the Cardiff South & Penarth by-election in 2012, a by-election caused by Alun Michael’s strange decision to stand for election as the local Police and Crime Commissioner. Second is Kathrine Jones, of whom I know naught. David Lloyd Jones, number 3 on the list, is probably the man who stood for Conwy in 2005 against the heavyweight trio of Betty Williams, Guto Bebb and Gareth Roberts. He got 1% of the vote, though he still managed to beat Ukip into 7th place. (Which ain’t gonna happen again any time soon.) If these three are relatively unknown, number 4 on the list, Liz Screen, has a slightly higher profile, if only because she stood in 2009, but it’s all relative.

SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN

Not being terribly au fait with the 57 varieties of socialism I’m not quite sure where the SPGB stands – are they Wobblies? Maybe someone can help me out. The SPGB has three branches; Swansea, Cardiff, and that hot-bed of revolutionary socialism . . . Llandudno. I tried to get more information but the SPGB website was down. The SPGB candidates can be found in the list at the top of the page. None of the names mean anything to me. Though if Richard Cheney is the real name of candidate number 2 it’s a strange quirk that he should share a name with Dick Cheney, vice president to George W. Bush and bête noire of the left. Anyway, seeing as Joe Hill was the most famous Wobbly of them all, let’s end this section with Joe Hill, sung by Joan Baez.

UKIP

The stars of the show! Certainly everybody is looking at Ukip, wondering how big an advance they’re going to make, for there’s no question it will be an advance. I did a recent post on Ukip which says most of what I want to say about them, so it only remains to look at their candidates.

Nathan Gill is an English grannyfarmer living on Ynys Môn who stood in the Seiriol ward in last year’s council elections, where he came eighth out of nine candidates. Though his wife(?) came eighth out out twelve in the Aethwy ward. (This being the ward where our old friend Jacques Protic came bottom of the poll.) Number two on the list is James Cole who, in the photograph I link to, is actually wearing a double-breasted blazer! It says he ‘relocated’ to Swansea, but not from where, though he is Welsh. This video by Cole is priceless; he predicts that ” . . . the native Welsh will be a minority in their own country within the next 15 to 20 years . . . “ yet he makes no mention of English colonisation, for he wants us to believe the influx will come from mainland Europe and elsewhere! Caroline Jones from Porthcawl is a former Tory parliamentary candidate who defected a year ago. The fourth candidate has concerns about “huge volumes of immigration”. David J. Rowlands lives in the Gwent valleys, where this is obviously a serious problem. Rowlands is the only survivor from the 2009 quartet.

I find it very disappointing that three of Ukip’s four candidates are Welsh. But then, this may be a ploy used in the hope of disguising the party’s fundamental Englishness.Euro election 2009

SUMMING UP

One unavoidable conclusion is that the European elections are not taken seriously by the electorate. It gives voters a chance to do something silly, which many of them will. The turnout in 2009 was just 30.4%, down 11% on 2004. (Click on panel to enlarge.) This year’s elections could see an even lower turnout. (Here’s the 2009 result by constituency.)

Six of the eleven parties standing can be said to belong to the extremes of left and right (three of each). Few of their 24 candidates have any relevance to Wales and even fewer have any intention of debating Welsh issues . . . even if they could. Some have been honest enough to admit they’re using the elections – and Wales – simply to gain publicity. In some regards the Greens could be added to this group. Leaving us with the four ‘mainstream’ parties, all running scared of Ukip. For this election is all about how well Ukip will do, how that will impact on the other parties, and if we’ll ever have European elections again.

My position is that I’m a European of the Gaullist persuasion, preferring a confederation of independent states – rather than a bureaucrat-led supranationalist entity – serving as a counter-balance to both Russia and the USA (to which we must now add China). The UK (or England) was never going to fit with either version for so many reasons, one being – as de Gaulle always understood – its ties with the USA. I have now reached the stage where I detest what the European Union has become but could never line up with any of those calling for withdrawal. Perversely, perhaps, the loony left and the loony right being on the same side only serves to make the bloated monster a little more attractive. With enemies like some of those I’ve looked at here, who needs friends?

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39 Comments on "Wales Euro Election 2014: Runners & Riders"

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Anonymous
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The elections are on the 22 of May, not the 22 of June.

Anon
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The European elections are on the 22 May not the 22 June.

Llantrisant
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Excellent once again. It’s clear in this election that Plaid’s main rival will be the Tories for the fourth seat. I may vote Tory so Plaid lose their MEP ( which looks likely anyway ) and thus hopefully forcing Plaid to think about removing the idiot they currently have as leader.

Daley Gleephart
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Think carefully. Would you prefer a UKIP MEP or a Plaid MEP?

Thinking Out Loud
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I know I shouldn’t laugh but reading this list I couldn’t help seeing the ‘People’s front of Judea’ sketch in my mind as both the hard left and hard right parties are bad parodies, but they can do still do damage to the other parties As for Plaid Cymru when their MEP for 15 years can’t answer the question of what does you job involve in a TV debate you… Read more »
Alwyn ap Huw
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Llantrisant, Plaid’s main rival for the fourth seat will be Labour; the only party which has a realistic chance of gaining a seat (it was Labour who lost the seat to UKIP in the last election). The Tories are jockeying for positions 1, 2 or 3. It is inconceivable that they would drop from first to fourth place and the chance of the Tories losing their Welsh seat is nil.

treforus
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Alwyn’s prediction seems spot-on to me. That last seat is going either to Labour’s second candidate or to Plaid. It will depend who gets their vote out on the day. If Plaid lose it then Ms Wood is deservedly in deep trouble. Incidentally the good Dr Boucher knocked the front door canvassing (well he does live around here). Never known a Euro candidate do that before. I give him credit… Read more »
D Morris
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I’m not bitter but I hope Plaid Cymru get a good kicking at this election. For a Welsh nationalist party to standby and ignore vital Welsh issues such as colonisation is shameful and cowardly. They deserve a good thrashing at the ballot box, it could be the wakeup call they so desperately need.

Cefin
Guest
Good point about Jill Evans waffling away and unable to give any coherent answer to the questioner as to what she actually does as an MEP. Buggins Vaughn also was unable to come up with what he does as an MEP other than to bizarrely say that he drives round Wales visiting organisations on a Sunday. The two of them were also highly embarrassing on the Jason Mohammed show today… Read more »
Red ²
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Derek Vaughan emails monthly newsletters.
To visit his website: http://www.derekvaughanmep.org.uk/

Leigh Richards
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just to clarify if that all the polling evidence is to be believed then its the tories not labour or ukip that plaid are vying with for a european seat from wales, with the seemingly fiscally challenged ms swinburne currently favourite to take wales 4th european seat…..tho one recent poll from comres actually gives the seat to plaid. but to any welsh patriots like llantrisant and d morris who would… Read more »
Alwyn ap Huw
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No matter how strong the arguments for having an alternative national party or reforming Plaid may be, the fact is that the only party on next Thursday’s ballot paper that claims to represent the national cause is Plaid in its current form. To vote against Plaid or to choose not to vote won’t be giving Plaid a “well deserved kicking”, but kicking the national movement in the only form that… Read more »
Llew
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Hmm. Jac says Plaid needs to appeal to those who currently vote Labour, are patriotic, and non voters. Alot of people in Plaid agree with that to be honest and its what Plaid has been trying to do, albeit not that consistently. The most pro-Wales vote in this election is for Jill Evans, simple as that. Spoiling your vote because you don’t like Plaid, Leanne, or Jill is like voting… Read more »
Taran
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Party politics won’t change anything. Welsh independence will never be accepted by the English population in Wales, so we have to make life difficult for them. We need to take our country back. Raise more Welsh children, start more Welsh businesses, occupy the land and refuse to yield to their unreasonable demands.

Leigh Richards
Guest
while i strongly disagree with the position jac and others like him seem intent upon taking next thursday i can sort of understand where such people are coming from. that said i would simply say to them how do they think a failure by welsh electors to return a single plaid mep next thursday will be received by the upper echelons of the british ruling class and its hired minions… Read more »
Alwyn ap Huw
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I agree with many of the points you’re making Royston. Yes the national cause needs a kick in the backside to reinvigorate it; but that isn’t going to happen between now and next Thursday. If Plaid loses its Euro seat next Thursday will that lead to an invigorated Welsh national cause? I doubt it very much; it is more likely to lead us to adulterate our beer with even more… Read more »
Llew
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I was not blackmailing you Jac. Spoiling or abstaining is principled. There is no particular reason you would have to vote for Plaid as a nationalist. What I do stand by is that voting for the Conservative and unionist party is a betrayal of Wales. I am not saying to vote for Labour or Greens or anyone else either. But if someone claimed to be a Welsh nationalist and voted… Read more »
Llantrisant
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Haha interesting to see the venom my comment has inspired on this thread! I’m more likely to vote Tory than ever now, Plaid Cymru is a spent force that needs to be put down much like the old Irish parliamentary party. No one will notice in London if Wales fails to elect a nationalist MEP and it won’t be the end of the Welsh nation either but it might just… Read more »
Llew
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It’s weird but I haven’t seen Leanne Wood be obsessed with Hugo Chavez or Palestinians since being leader, but see a few people mention them on the internet. Last time I checked she was campaigning for Plaid at a private business in Carmarthenshire, not the west Bank. But whatever its your prejudice about her. I think using Labour to try and excuse the Tories’ unionism is poor, but if you… Read more »
Abertaweman
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Ah, Natasha Asghar! I have memories of the Plaid hustings for the 2009 Euro Elections. Natasha stated that she was in favour of St Athan being turned into a murder academy for the HM Armed forces as it would provide ‘valuable transferable skills’ for Wales. She was not challenged by the audience – and got on the list! Plaid need to snap out of its current malaise – there is… Read more »
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