Elections, May 2021

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

The next elections for the Welsh Parliament are just over six months away; so this week I’m taking a break from crooks, money-launderers, con men, enviroshysters, third sector leeches to focus on politicians.

Reading that, the cynics among you will say, “So no great change there, then, Jac!”.

How dare you be so disrespectful of our tribunes! Go stand in the corner!

THE 2016 RESULT

Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the overall result from the previous election in 2016.

‘Abolish the Welsh’ refers to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party, a harmless bunch of anti-Welsh cranks not a gang of loonies bent on genocide. Well not yet, anyway. Click to enlarge

The first thing you might notice is that despite these elections being organised under a system of proportional representation the result, certainly for Labour, the biggest party, gives an outcome not a lot different to first past the post.

You’ll also see that the main challengers get seats roughly in line with their share of the vote, with the smaller parties generally losing out. It’s a system designed to protect the Labour-dominated status quo in Wales, while also stifling ‘insurgent’ parties.

This system has worked to perfection in Wales because the Conservatives are unlikely to ever gain a majority of seats. And when Labour fails to get a majority then Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats will always be there to help.

After the 2016 election Labour went into coalition with the sole Liberal Democrat AM. Which meant that parties with a total of 38% of the vote were able to form an administration.

Is this really how PR is supposed to work?

THE LABOUR PARTY

At the risk of sounding uncharitable, the great thing the Labour Party has had going for it is . . . not being the Conservative Party. The advertising campaigns, the policy drafting, the tub-thumping and the sloganising could all have been ignored in favour of the simple message – ‘Vote for us, cos we’re not the Tories’.

And it’s worked, for almost a century.

In England, the decline of traditional industries, and their associated trade unions, have weakened the Labour Party. Labour in Scotland suffered the same problem, exacerbated by the rise of the Scottish National Party to the point where Labour is hanging on for dear life, with just one Westminster MP left.

In Wales, Labour has fared better because we’ve been spared the corrupting influence of prosperity, and also because there is no equivalent of the SNP. Of course, Plaid Cymru likes to view itself as the Welsh SNP but the SNP set out to destroy the Labour Party in Scotland whereas Plaid Cymru seeks to keep its Welsh branch alive and in power.

How Labour will do next May depends to a considerable extent on perceptions of the Conservative government in London. For while Scotland has a vigorous national media allowing elections to be influenced by Scottish issues, the absence of a Welsh media worthy of the name means that here we tend see Englandandwales elections.

The exception being perhaps areas with high numbers of Welsh speakers who are less reliant on news from London.

On issues of the day, there is a general and widespread belief that the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ has handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than Johnson, Hancock, Jenrick and the rest of the gang up in London.

But then, being seen as less incompetent than that crew is no great achievement.

When we address purely Welsh issues, it’s difficult to think of anything Labour has to crow about. For Wales continues to fall behind other countries in areas like wealth, health, housing and education.

Cardiff seems to be prospering but away from the Lesser Wen the country can be divided into post-industrial areas experiencing managed decline and rural areas undergoing engineered population change from Welsh to English.

Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, is less oleaginous than his predecessor, Carwyn Jones, but still a difficult man to like. Despite the Brownie points gained for Covid-19 there remain plenty of bear traps for him to negotiate between here and next May.

By any criteria one cares to apply, Labour has been a failure since 2016. Labour has failed Wales since the dawn of devolution in 1999. But for the reasons I’ve given, Labour will still emerge as the largest single party, with around 30% of the vote.

But well short of a majority of seats.

If nothing else, such a result should increase calls for more Senedd Members and a system of true proportional representation.

THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY (CUP)

The last few years have been a series of peaks and troughs for the CUP, with Brexit almost tearing the party apart under Theresa May. Things took a turn for the better when Boris Johnson became party leader and won a famous victory in December . . . since when it’s been downhill again.

In last December’s election the Tories won a number of seats in the north, most notably, Wrexham, held by Labour since 1931. But the overall vote in Wales only increased by 2.5%. The real story was that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party saw its Welsh vote go down by 8%.

Things have not gone well for the CUP since that December election for all sorts of reasons. Such as a number of the new intake being pretty odious specimens.

The new MP for Ynys Môn, Virginia Crosby, has appeared on this blog a number of times, usually defending her colleague and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry. Berry owns properties around Rhoscolyn and earlier this year people were asking if he was breaking lockdown restrictions to travel between his Welsh properties, his London home, and his constituency.

Then Delyn MP Rob Roberts got into trouble for asking young staffers to “fool around with him”. While Wrexham new girl, Sarah Atherton, wondered why the military weren’t dealing with the refugee/migrant boats crossing from France.

While old favourites like Alun Cairns, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, continue to amaze with their talent for finding little sidelines to supplement their meagre incomes.

The situation does not look like improving for the Tories, for two main reasons.

Let’s look first at Covid-19. As I said in the previous section, the Conservative government in London has had a disastrous pandemic: incompetence, lies, contracts to cronies, it’s all there, and this will be remembered next May.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Tories seem determined to alienate even more people by insisting that the ‘Welsh Government’ is being anti-English when – for perhaps the first time ever – it prioritises the interests of Wales.

That’s certainly what was said by Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, and Alun Cairns. Which makes them either complete bell-ends or calculating politicians.

I believe it’s the latter, because in spouting this nonsense, the Tories are playing to a particular gallery. I’m thinking now of the anti-Welsh, gammony element that might otherwise be seduced by the growing number of splinter group parties on the BritNat fringe. (I’ll come to them later.)

The other problem of their own making is, again, Brexit. Of course Wales voted for Brexit, but I’m sure very few of us voted for privatising the NHS, chlorinated chicken, and undermining the Welsh farming industry. I certainly didn’t.

But it’s now become clear that a No Deal Brexit was always the favoured option for the CUP leadership in London. Which will mean the City of London remains at the centre of the biggest money-laundering network in the world; the NHS is opened up to US Big Pharma; and we have to get used to food products from the USA, where standards in both hygiene and animal welfare are more ‘relaxed’.

All the Welsh CUP MPs voted for this deal. Which is not clever for people representing constituencies with large numbers of farmers . . . and their extended families . . . and contractors to the industry, and so many others who rely to a greater or lesser degree on agriculture for their livelihoods.

There will be a price to pay next May for the coronavirus cock-ups and the shafting of our farmers. And while the Tories in Corruption Bay weren’t responsible, it’ll be some of them who’ll pay the price.

Other factors working against the Conservatives will be the Englandandwales media/election paradigm and the Vera Lynn Fan Clubs competing for regional votes.

For all these reasons I expect the CUP representation in the Welsh Parliament to fall.

PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES

Although Plaid Cymru won 12 seats in 2016 the party is now down to 10. Lord Elis Thomas, the constituency member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, left to become a Labour-supporting Independent; and Neil McEvoy, the regional AM for South Wales Central, left to sit as an Independent before forming the Welsh National Party (WNP).

A further change since 2016 is that Plaid Cymru also has a new leader in Adam Price. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is that he’s not former leader, Leanne Wood.

For most Welsh voters Plaid Cymru is the party of Welsh independence, but as I’ve argued, Plaid Cymru is a party that sought more autonomy for Wales, more funding for Wales, and the creation of a new class of politicians and administrators made up of . . . well, the kind of people who populate the upper echelons of Plaid Cymru.

This was to be a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. Devolution, with a bit more power, many more sinecures, and lots more money, is the end of the line.

Plaid Cymru was always Cymru Fydd resurrected, not a Welsh Sinn Féin. Until, that is, it moved to the left in the 1980s and really screwed itself up. Enjoying only a brief period of coherence under the leadership of Dafydd Wigley and the first Assembly elections in 1999.

Today we again see a schizophrenic party where Welsh-speaking social conservatives from the rural heartlands mix uncomfortably with some real oddballs and a few with views that should have denied them membership.

Plaid Cymru is today one of those confused leftist parties that is vehemently opposed to intolerance . . . except when it’s those it approves of being intolerant.

As a leftist party Plaid Cymru believes that, thanks to the capitalist system, we’re either going to fry due to global warming, or else we’re going to drown from rising sea levels, so Wales must play its part in trying to avert these outcomes.

In practice, that means supporting wind turbines that create no jobs and simply exploit Wales. Where profits flow to a City hedge fund, or a multinational, or a state-owned energy company from Scandinavia.

Except on issues that are largely irrelevant to Wales – where Plaid Cymru can play gesture politics – the party comes across as weak and indecisive. Take holiday homes. Plaid talks the talk but it won’t walk the walk.

At present Welsh local authorities can impose a council tax surcharge on holiday homes up to 100%. The only council that levies the 100% is Labour-controlled Swansea. (And despite what you might think, there are many holiday homes on the waterfront, in Mumbles, and of course around Gower.)

Independent-run Powys recently voted to impose a surcharge of 75%.

But Gwynedd, where Plaid Cymru is in control, imposes only a 50% surcharge. It’s a similar picture in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

On independence, Plaid Cymru has been outflanked and overtaken by Yes Cymru. While on the party political front there are two new challengers in the form of Gwlad and the Welsh National Party (WNP). Both are unequivocal about prioritising Welsh interests, and are fully committed to achieving independence.

So you really have to wonder what Plaid Cymru stands for nowadays, and where it’s going. That’s certainly what Welsh voters will be doing in May. Many will conclude that Plaid Cymru has hit the buffers.

Which certainly seems to be the case.

For while opinion polls tell us that more and more people are prepared to consider independence, those same polls show little or no increase in support for Plaid Cymru. Recent polls show 51% of Labour voters prepared to consider independence, but only 71% of Plaid Cymru voters!

What’s going wrong for Plaid Cymru?

In a nutshell, Plaid Cymru believes that the only acceptable vision of independence must be well to the left of centre, pro EU, in favour of open borders, anti Trump, and dragging a whole baggage train of ishoo-of-the-month idiocies that turn off most voters.

Dogmatic to the point of being unelectable.

Plaid Cymru always failed to engage with the urban, anglophone population. After the disappointment of Brexit, the success of the Brexit Party (winning the May 2019 EU elections in Wales and the UK), and BoJo’s victory last December, many in Plaid Cymru – like the US Democrats – have given up trying to win over stupid, racist, poor whites.

They find it preferable to retreat into their cocoons of progressive self-righteousness in the echo chamber of social media.

Which is why I believe Plaid Cymru will lose Ceredigion and also end up with fewer Members from the regional lists.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

There’s a temptation to be very unkind in this section . . . but it’s not in my nature to put the boot in when somebody’s down. And boy! are the Liberal Democrats down.

Down to a single Member, Kirsty Williams, the constituency MS for Brecon and Radnorshire. After the debacle of 2016 Ms Williams threw in her lot with Labour and became Minister for Education. You probably haven’t noticed.

It’s an amazing decline for the party of David Lloyd George, but entirely predictable when we consider the quality of leaders and representatives in recent years at both Welsh and UK level. I’m not sure if Ms Williams holds group meetings with herself but I’m sure she will have thought the same thing many a time.

And yet, despite currently being down to a solitary representative, the Liberal Democrats could be the big winners in May next year.

As I’ve suggested, the CUP has pissed off a lot of people, and most certainly a lot of farmers. Few will know that better than Kirsty Williams, a farmer’s wife.

Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Party meetings (I can never find the telephone kiosk!) but I’m sure Kirsty Williams has hopes for the seats of Montgomeryshire to the north and Ceredigion to the west. (If the students in Aber’ and Lampeter have forgiven the Lib Dems for reneging on tuition fees.)

So I’m predicting that the Liberal Democrats could double, or even treble, their representation in May 2021. These are the three constituencies mentioned, and there might even be a regional list seat.

VERA LYNN FAN CLUBS

This is where it gets tricky, because the landscape on the BritNat right is forever shifting. Hardly surprising when we look at the personalities involved, and realise how many of them are often described as ‘interesting’, or ‘eccentric’ (code for ‘absolute nutter’).

Back in 2016, the big winner among this section of the electorate was UKIP, with 13% of the vote and seven seats. The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party did not stand constituency candidates and got just 4.4% of the regional vote (which was still more than the share won by the Green Party of Englandandwales).

Since 2016 UKIP has had eight or nine UK leaders, numerous resignations, and in Corruption Bay is now reduced to the solitary – but dapper – form of Neil Hamilton. In fact, I’m not sure if Neil Hamilton isn’t the current party leader. Or was that last month?

Not so long ago the Abolish lot was the fringe of a fringe, but now it boasts two Members of the Senedd, Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless. Though you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to boast about those two.

Others who were returned under the banner of British exceptionalism were Nathan Gill, Michelle Brown, David Rowlands and Caroline Jones. Following his resignation in 2018 Gill was replaced by Mandy Jones. Michelle Brown now sits as an Independent.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at those UKIP meetings because by comparison ferrets in a sack are models of harmony and co-existence.

The most recent development is that Rowlands and the Jones women have formed a new group, the Independent Alliance for Reform. And if that name doesn’t stir something deep inside you – other than wind – then you are beyond hope.

It is obviously designed to be interchangeable with or to complement Aux barricades!

And all the while, in the wings, observing, is Nigel Farage. Will his Reform Party put in a late appearance, or will it be the promised relaunch of the Brexit Party? Though with Brexit almost done what would be the platform?

For let us remember that the Assembly elections of May 2016 were held just ahead of the EU referendum and were almost overshadowed by it. This propinquity benefited Ukip.

One thing’s for sure, if all the parties we’ve looked at in this section fight all the seats then we’ll be royally entertained by the stars they’ll recruit from Wetherspoons and other squelchy underfoot salons. A goodly number of whom will have to withdraw before the election after saying or doing something really stupid.

The BritNat right has no hope of a constituency seat, so hopes rest on the regional lists. Which means that a lot will depend on whether they fight each other or come to some arrangement.

I suspect there are still enough “Brexit means Brexit” types out there to win 3 seats.

THE SERIOUS ABOUT WALES PARTIES

Looking around Wales and seeing the mess this country is in is painful enough, but when you realise that none of the existing parties offers any hope of meaningful change, then new parties will be formed.

And that’s exactly what’s happened; and why we have Gwlad and the WNP.

I am a member of Gwlad and played a small part in its creation, but it was easy for me to withdraw to the blogosphere because the party is in such capable hands.

I like to think that Gwlad combines patriotism with pragmatism. For example, in believing that relying on handouts from London, as Labour and Plaid Cymru prefer, only perpetuates the misconception that Wales could never stand on her own two feet economically.

There are radical yet practical proposals across the board. We’ve already touched on Plaid Cymru’s fear of upsetting second home owners – a number in their own ranks – with meaningful levels of council tax; well, Gwlad does not hesitate to demand a 500% council tax surcharge.

It’s all here in the Manifesto for 2021.

Predictably, the criticism levelled against Gwlad by Plaid Cymru is that we shall “split the nationalist vote”. This is nonsense, because Plaid Cymru has already split – or certainly, limited – the nationalist vote by its inflexible and off-putting socialism.

This is borne out in recent elections and in even more so in recent opinion polls.

What Gwlad will do is reach out to those who want, or would be prepared to consider, independence, but could never vote for a hard-line socialist party also lumbered with the tag of still being a party only for Welsh speakers.

Gwlad could come through a crowded field to win a constituency seat and should certainly collect 3 or 4 regional list seats.

Of course, I’ve met Neil McEvoy a few times and we exchange the occasional e-mail, Wales is a small country after all. But I really don’t know much about his new party beyond what I read in the media.

Though I do know a few others involved with the WNP.

Over the years I’ve sunk a few pints with Councillor Keith Parry . . . and I’m still haunted by a car journey one very rainy night as I tried to concentrate on the road ahead while my mate and Keith’s Jewish wife argued over the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum.

I feared it was all going to end in a fight and a fireball car crash. Phew!

Many observers try to say that Neil McEvoy only took the course he did in forming the WNP because he was effectively thrown out of Plaid Cymru. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Neil has been in politics a long time, and he knows what’s wrong with Wales. On one level it’s London’s political, economic and cultural stranglehold, but on the local level it’s the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru.

Labour holds power on local councils and in the Senedd . . . simply to be in power; to stop someone else getting the salaries and the expenses, attending the bun-fights and the jollies. Labour has little intention – and no real incentive – to improve the lives of our people because for a century it has capitalised on Wales’ deprivation.

Plaid Cymru, as I’ve said, is a party of gestures and abstractions. It is the twenty-first century political equivalent of those medieval divines who would argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

But actually doing anything? Forget it!

But if one of his constituents persuades him they’re getting a raw deal, then Neil McEvoy will take up the case and demand something be done about it. And he sometimes ruffles feathers doing it. But if kids are sharing a bedroom with rats, or there’s water rippling down the kitchen wall . . .

Neil McEvoy is a do-er, a man who believes in the direct approach; and that makes the anguished attitudinisers of Plaid Cymru very nervous. And never more so than when he confronts the Labour Party.

On two major issues, the ‘nuclear mud’ being dumped off Cardiff, and the forged signatures on cladding certificates, Plaid Cymru has behaved abominably. None worse than Llywydd Elin Jones. But she couldn’t have behaved as she did without the backing of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Sticking it to the man may outrage the sensitive flowers of Plaid Cymru but it goes down well with real people, on the streets of Cardiff, and elsewhere in Wales. People want their problems solved, they do not want to be patronised, or taken for granted, by an aloof and self-serving political class.

The big test will come in the constituency seat of Cardiff West, where McEvoy will be standing against First Minister Drakeford. Plaid Cymru will of course be splitting the nationalist vote in the hope of securing victory for Mark Drakeford.

Neil McEvoy’s street cred and his sheer hard work might win Cardiff West next May, plus a couple of regional list seats.

My very personal belief is that Gwlad and the WNP should not get in each other’s way next May. Neither has the strength yet to fight a full national election so it’s in their interests, and more importantly, it’s in Wales’s interests, for there to be some kind of deal.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I obviously can’t account for all those who might be standing next May, there’s bound to be a wild card or two. But what you’ve just read is how I see it panning out.

Other factors will I’m sure influence voters. Perhaps the UK government’s Internal Markets Bill; supposedly about ‘repatriating’ powers from the EU but which, in reality, gives BoJo’s gang the power to trample all over devolution.

Perhaps it will even be used to challenge the 1707 Act of Union.

More specific to Wales is a growing awareness of and dislike for the chumminess of Cardiff Bay. The air of cronyism and unaccountability exemplified by Labour and Plaid Cymru refusing to bring in a register of lobbyists.

The problem in this area is obvious, but there are always excuses for doing nothing. This is because Labour and Plaid Cymru are too close to those who might be held to account by such legislation.

Another issue that might influence some voters to take a punt on a new party is the widespread perception that Cardiff gets everything. Which doesn’t change when an MS goes to Cardiff promising to speak up for his area . . . only to be sucked into the swamp that is Corruption Bay.

But perhaps we should remember Harold Macmillan’s response when asked what was most likely to influence or derail political plans. Supermac is said to have replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”

In other words, that which cannot be foreseen. Six months is a very long time in politics.

♦ end ♦

 




62 thoughts on “Elections, May 2021

  1. Dr John Ball

    Annwyl Jac

    An excellent piece!

    A few thoughts. First, In its nonsensical and confused “Independence Commission” report, Plaid Cymru has clearly shown that it is not in favour of independence, whatever the lip service says. The report eventually (if any one is daft enough to read it) ends up with the recommendation of a confederation, which really means remaining part of the UK. Just to show how sloppy it is, buried within is a supposed Benelux response, missing the point that this arrangement was between three SOVEREIGN nations
    I very much hope that the membership gives it the boot…..

    The plan of course is to share power with Labour – Price talks of a Plaid Cymru government (what’s he on?), quite how this will come about with no organisation or candidates remains a mystery. Here in Dylan’s ugly, lovely town there is no organisation, no councillors and no candidates, other than the very tiny Dai Lloyd fan club.

    You do raise an important point. It is important that Gwlad and WNP do not fight each other, or indeed any independent candidate standing on independence. Constituency seats are probably a lost cause, but a good solid list campaign might well be successful, and have the added advantage of getting the message to every home in Wales and indeed getting a response.

    1. Thank you, John, that’s how I see it. Plaid Cymru simply wants to be a subsidised colonial elite. The rest of us can go to hell.

  2. Dafis

    “…..a system that created a new class that Djilas would have recognised enjoying prestige and influence without the responsibility of having to fund it. ” I don’t think that you need to reference a fading and somewhat discredited authority as Djilas to make your point.

    Just as easy to attribute that analysis to the man or woman on the street in Tregaron in the west, Fochriw in the east, or Dyffryn Nantlle in the north to name just 3 out of hundreds of communities across Wales where that conclusion can be easily derived. We despair for competence above all else, although a bit of emotional and intellectual investment would also be most welcome to create some vision for the future and the energy and enthusiasm to promote it among the electorate.

    That Drakeford is now getting some credit shows how low we are, but he is a bit better than the rest of the shallow shoddy merchants that inhabit the political bubbles across the UK in general. In different circumstances I might even feel sorry for him coming up against the energetic and intelligent man of the people, McEvoy, but that temptation withers away when I realise that he will have the 2 party machines pumping all sorts of bile on his behalf in the upcoming campaign.

    1. I’m an admirer of Djilas. Any man who could be imprisoned by the Jugoslav monarchy pre-WWII, then fight with Tito against the Nazis, before being banged up post-war by the Communists, is a stroppy bastard after my own heart.

      One of his quotes I always remember is: “What I have learned and suffered is categorical: a man without a faith, without ideas and ideals, can be imagined only as a man in a world of absolute void – the world of his own non-existence.” Another take on Descartes’ “Cogito, ergo sum.”

      1. Dafis

        Rebellious character but the last thing Tito needed was a rebel when he was trying to keep the Soviet bear at bay. That Yugoslavia lasted as long as it did is incredible with benefit of hindsight. How Croatia was restrained until those last few months of fragmentation is beyond belief. Tito was of Croat heritage and he is still revered there, yet it was Serbia that provided the hub for his United Slav States vision. Now we are left with something that is much less than the sum of the parts especially those bits harbouring extreme militant activists and criminals.

        Back to my main point above. The defects of our status quo is amply evident to any thinking person in any part of Wales. Our disatisfactions may manifest themselves differently in the various communities but at their heart lies that sense that within the wider political/Bay bubble NO FUCKER GIVES A TOSS. There are lots of words we can juggle around but Corruption and Carelessness seem to recur. To purge those from our system most of the 60 sitting members need to be cleared out and replaced. Tall order in a country where “inertia” sound energetic.

        1. I agree, Jugoslavia was a real ‘camel’ of a state. But it some ways it was Serbia’s reward for having been on the winning side in the Great War, and for suffering the highest casualty rates. But then, it was the Serbs wot started it in Sarajevo because they wanted Bosnia.

          To your second paragraph I would add, ‘careerism’.

  3. Myfanwy Alexander

    LibDems will gain little or no traction in Mid Wales. Many farmers may have problems with the Tories, but they are unlikely to support a party rife with vegetarians and people whose appetite for way out social positions exceeds that of Plaid. And Ed Davey remains a vocal proponent of covering Powys with useless wind turbines. And as for Ceredigion, were they not fourth in the General Election?

    1. 1/ Montgomeryshire has been Liberal Democrat in the recent past.
      2/ It won’t just be farmers upset with BoJo and his gang.
      3/ Tory voters are unlikely to switch to Labour or to Plaid Cymru.
      4/ Gwlad has a good candidate in place, and he’s a farmer.
      5/ Lib Dems have also held Ceredigion recently, and came second in 2016.

      1. Myfanwy Alexander

        The party of Clement Davies and Emlyn Hooson is not the same as the modern LibDems. I doubt either of those two distinguished gentlemen would have struggled, for example, to define what a woman is. Agree that the issue of choice of candidate is crucial. From what I understand of what went on before the previous General Election, the LDs were cold calling half the electoral roll, asking people to stand and got no takers, ending up with a vegetarian carpet-bagger. For whom, of course, Plaid stepped aside. Is it too early to ask who the Gwlad candidate is? My thoughts are that both KW and RG will return and the fight will be for list votes. Very interesting piece, by the way.

        1. Glad you enjoyed it. I try to inform and entertain. If we’re talking of Montgomeryshire then I believe the Gwlad candidate is Gwyn Wigley Evans.

      2. Jonesy

        Plaid will keep Ceredigion due to Ben Lake, who is a good man. I hope Neil will get in, but unfortunately he has no hope forming more than a one man party, due to his character. I don’t hold any hope for Gwlad, although i sympathise and agree with many aspects, there is no chance due to funding and no profile. Plaid is doing my head in.

        1. Wrexhamian

          If a Scottish version of Gwlad or the WNP were trying to poach SNP votes in a Holyrood election, then, yes, they’d have as much chance as a snowball in Hell. But there will be pro-independence supporters in Wales who like yourself are having their heads done in by Plaid Cymru. There’s no reason why enough of them might not change allegiance to push one of the new boys past the winning post in the Bro, if not this time round, then in five and a half years time.

          Outside Plaid Cymru Land, there are anglophone Welsh people who have been let down by Welsh Labour. They, too, are potential Gwlad/WNP voters.

          That’s not to say that many of their candidates won’t lose their deposits, but they need time to embed. The 2021 election will be like a rugby test match to give them a chance to make their mark. The Six Nations will be the next election but one.

          1. The problem for the SNP is that it does so well in the constituencies that it cannot win many list seats. This is why some wanting independence are thinking of standing only on the lists to give the independence cause an overwhelming majority of seats.

            1. Wrexhamian

              That sounds like a winning plan. I’ll be amazed if Sturgeon dodesn’t lead Scotland to independence in the foreseeable future. Bojo’s gang gave now formed a committee tasked with engaging in a propoganda war with the SNP over independence.

              At the moment, they think Wales is safe, and they’re probably right, but much pro-indy traction can be got out of the Internal Markets Bill and Boris’s stated intention to override the Welsh Government’s wishes on major civil engineering projects. His insensitivity to Welsh feelings and wishes makes him an unwitting ally of the independence movement, and he is bound to have an unintended influence on the May elections.

              1. Scotland is going, there’s increasing agreement on that, even from Unionists. And when Scotland goes it will definitely impact on Wales, even Carwyn Jones has admitted that.

                Something else to factor in – and it’s bound to happen – is the death of the current monarch. She is quite popular, and respected; more so than the majority of the clan. And the monarchy is something holding the Union together. When Liz pops her clogs the Union will loosen a bit more. Maybe it’ll fall apart.

  4. O Enlli

    Interesting job vacancy making the rounds Jack- may also have far reaching effect on this vote -Swyddog Prosiect Pleidlais 16/17, on the lleol.cymru web site

      1. Dafis

        Does that mean that the Urdd is mopping up the junior vote for Plaid or are they encouraging a more patriotic outlook ?

  5. David Smith

    You can tell Jac’s down with the kids when he uses the adjective ‘gammony’ in a blog 😂. Once again, an excellent and informative read!

      1. Dafis

        I object violently to the abuse of “gammon”. It’s one of my favourite meats, served with egg & chips with a side of salad ( healthy eating , see). I’m not surprised if some wokey morons wants to give it a different meaning, after all they seem to want to change the meaning of most words to suit their dopey agenda. Maybe “woke” means sleep walking into a self induced oblivion, whereas to us normal people it might be a state of alertness.

        1. David Smith

          I’ve coined a portmanteau word, ‘gammonite’, from gammon + ammonite, in reference to the fact these Anglosupermacist, Daily Mail reading duffers are almost without exception also fossils.

          1. Dafis

            Perhaps you should have used “lentil” or “tofu” as a root word rather than gammon ! With the added benefit that it would be just lovely for all those wokeys who need these sort of words added to their sensitive vocabulary.

            1. David Smith

              It doesn’t evoke the dark pink, rounded, greasy phiz, nor its framing with grey wisps of hair (the surrounding gristle) quite the way a good gammon steak does though.

              1. Dafis

                You trying to mess with my appetite ? Won’t work for the minute I get a whiff of that luvely steak nothing can stop me.

                On more serious matters I saw Jac’s tweet regarding that zany alt-left article about “engaging” with independence movements, YES Cymru in particular. It’s yet another good example of subversion, this one aimed at reducing our people to subordinates while an elite clique prance around pretending to be socialists. Maybe the reference to Djilas has its relevance after all !

          2. Wynne

            Is ammonite related to kryptonite [as in superman]. Sorry to lower the tone on the political debate. Very interesting post Jac.

  6. Yann Maenden

    And away from Fantasy Island, where Jac spends most of his political life:

    The UKIP mob will probably disappear giving more seats to the Tories.
    Labour will win a few seats from the Tories.
    Plaid may pick up a seat or two from Labour.
    The Lib-Dems will disappear.
    Gwlad will tell everybody how popular they are despite being thrashed out of sight.
    The WNP (aka the Neil McEvoy Party) will probably lose its only seat in the Senedd and blame Plaid Cymru.

      1. Wrexhamian

        Reading between the lnes of his comments on an article about the December 2019 election, my diagnosis is that Mr, Maenden is a Plaid Cymru supporter in the vein of that youngster called Aled who had a dog. He uses invective and bald assertions as substitutes for reasoned argument.

        Much of what he says could be put down to wishful thinking, but I think he may be right about Ukip (and indeed the other Vera Lyn Fan Club parties) having a trainwreck of an election in May. Drakeford’s covid performance, and the media attention given to it, has not only raised his stock but validated our normally-toothless devolution in a way that could well cut the goolies off the Abolish the Assembly lot and make friend Hamilton’s anti-Welsh position untenable. First to face the firing squad, electorally speaking, ought to be the odious Reckless, a man who has no business contesting a Welsh election and who is nothing more than a political whore who changes his party allegiance almost as often as I change my underpants.

        By putting the spotlight on recent events in Cymru, the English media have inadvertently done the very job that an authentic Welsh media would do, if we had one, because the previously-uninformed have — admittedly, only regarding Drakeford’s anti-covid strategy — now been made aware of what devolution (and by implication, independence) could achieve if it is actually used in Wales’ interests. Reckless and co. can have no answer to this. Thanks, BBC and Skye News.

        The 64-dollar question, if our Mr. Maenden is right, is who will get the lost Fan Club votes. The people who voted for these Brit-right parties are the very people whom Plaid Cymru have alienated through wokish drivel. They are not mainly English retirees and white-flighters but working-class Welsh people who have been left with very little after 20 years of Labour-dominated devolution. If their particular local problems can be addressed on the doorstep by Gwlad and/or the WNP, those votes are there for the asking. They certainly won’t be handed over to a Tory Party that calls Wales’ attempts to protect its own health “unconstitutional”. Sorry, Yann.

        That said, I think Covid-19 has got Labour out of jail. They’ll win this election, but there’ll be two new kids on the block, or getting on it in 5 years’ time.

        1. What struck me about the contribution from ‘Yann Maenden’ was the lack of ambition exhibited. He sees just a few seats changing hands, and seems satisfied with that. As if it’s going to bring in the change Wales needs. We’re in a rut, and need more than a slightly different distribution of seats among the parties that have failed us for so long.

          1. Steffan

            There may be rather less clear green water between the Vera Lynn Fan Club Parties (good portmanteau term, by the way) and the Serious About Wales Parties than you and some of your correspondents would wish to admit, Jac.

            Their manifestos and public stances on policies will doubtless be poles apart – but not necessarily so the kind of voter that they will be aiming to garner. Their potential supporters are not as demographically discrete as some would care to imagine.

            Your punt in the piece at perhaps 9 regional seats between them, grosso modo, may be close to reality in May. But precise sub-divisions are of course difficult to predict: indeed, there could well be some cancelling out of their impact in the complexity of the proportional vote mathematics, because there is more overlap in their populist appeal than meets the eye (and than they would be willing to admit).

            1. The ‘clear green water’ that you suggest is a mere trickle is in fact a raging torrent. Listen! Because we want independence while the Vera Lynn Fan Club parties want either less devolution or none at all. The only point on we might agree would be that devolution has failed Wales.

              Where you might be right is that we are all appealing to those pissed off with the existing parties, those who feel excluded. Which is a reflection on the existing system, not on us.

            2. Wrexhamian

              There’s no ‘populist overlap’ here, Steffan. Here’s the difference betwen the VLFC parties and Gwlad/WNP: the former hate devolution in principle, or believe that its failure justifies abolishing or bowdlerising it; the latter want to use devolution to make it work in Wales’ interests for almost the first time in twenty years, as a preliminary to eventual independence. You’re trying to introduce populism as a way of undermining those who actually care about Wales’ future.

          2. Neil Singleton

            Electioneering has to be more tactical these days. Indulge me for a moment, and consider Gwlad, Yes Cymru and the more independence motivated Plaid supporters, “lending” their votes to the Abolish the Assembly Party. This “could” result in a referendum on the said abolition. Many commenters on the Abolish social media outlets appear ready to support abolishing the WA, but are leery of returning to Tory rule by Westminster. So thred options on a referendum ballot paper could be Abolish the Assembly, and return to rule by Westminster, OR retain the Assembly OR Independence. An alternative 2 stage approach could be an Abolish WA referendum, then if successful, stage two would be a straight choice between Westminster and independence. That straight choice would make the outcome a close run thing.

      2. Dafis

        Love it when a wokey turns up to comment from time to time. We all need to be reminded how feeble, yet dangerous, their groupthink mode is. Bit rough on them though as it keeps shifting so often as their thought leaders hop from one ishoo to the next.

  7. Brychan

    I was wondering, Jac, why you have not mentioned the largest political party in Wales. That’s the don’t vote party. Overwhelmingly white working class, and it’s a reservoir that Ukip and the Brexit vote made small inroads into. It’s communities, which have the following characteristics. (a) poor, (b) disenfranchised, (c) ignored, (d) strong Welsh national identity.

    I also suspect that this community that gave Neil McEvoy a massive surge in support and will ultimately displace Labour from the council estates of Cardiff. These non-voters are not just found in Ely, the exist in Maesgerchen, Penrhys, Gurnos and Pencader. They are not impressed by grants for the arts, or social media virtue signalling, nor saving the planet or type of carrier bag.

    A sleeping dragon.

    Labour have lost them, Plaid Cymru look down on them, and the Tories exploit them. It’s the section of Wales who support independence. The ones that have Plaid Cymru scratching their heads why they haven’t bagged the votes.

    1. Good point, Brychan, a higher turnout could screw up everybody’s calculations. Because if the existing parties cannot mobilise this electorate then it offers hope to new parties.

  8. Simon

    Following on from the previous comment, this is a perspective on Welsh national elections most people and parties ignore: Approximately 50% of the eligible electorate do not vote (sometimes a little more or a little less but roughly around half).

    Let’s call these the “None of the Above” voters because nothing on offer is inspiring enough for them to vote (myself included). So here is the last election results taking into account of that much overlooked group:

    Shares of the eligible vote

    None of the Above 50%
    Labour 19%
    Plaid Cymru 10%
    Conservatives 9%
    UKIP 6.5%
    Liberal Democrats 3.25%
    Abolish Assembly 2.,2%

    None of the Above non-voters are the clear winners democratically speaking. Any party that offers the incentive to 40% of of this demographic to vote for them (or 20% of the entire eligible vote) would take the Assembly by storm.

    Although they may not know it, it is the non-voting 50% that holds the keys to control of the Assembly. Any party that isn’t including this fact in its strategy is simply not paying attention.

    1. Dafis

      What makes you think that 2021 will be the year that mobilises those who could not be bothered previously ? Getting 40% of that lump to metaphorically get off its arse is not just a matter of communicating, you need to overcome a mix of indifference,hostility and downright ignorance to stir that lot. And of course there may be a hard core of x% but there is also the “swing voter” who opts in one year and opts out the following.

  9. Rhosddu

    There’s already a new variable in the potential electorate: the newly-enfranchised 16-17-year-old voters. They have a high percentage of indy supporters. As such, they are probably Plaid Cymru’s last hope, and they may like some of Plaid’s pet ishoos, but some may prefer the no-nonsense approach of Gwlad or the WNP. A lot will depend on who cultivates them the most effectively. I can’t see the unionist parties appealing to this demographic.

  10. Brychan

    Off-topic – Just been told that ‘Garden Centres’ has been listed as non-essential retail and have been closed as part of the firebreak lockdown. For those who grow their own or have an allotment will know that the next two weeks are when you should plant your peas, beans, garlic, winter salads, asparagus, rhubarb or anything that set root under cold frames. This is a very short planting window as there can be frost after the fire-break ends. It gives an insight into the thinking of Labour and the Welsh Government who probably only visit a garden centre to sip a skinny latte or buy scented candles. I suspect this is how the Ukrainian famine started in Soviet times. No early veg for next spring in Wales.

    1. It’s only been a few hours but already the gloss is beginning to wear off. Drakeford was having a good pandemic, especially when compared to Johnson and his gang, but things could be about to change.

      1. Wynne

        And how are supermarkets expected to decide, at very short notice, what products are essential and non essential. There may be a few interesting debates at the checkout. I expect toilet rolls will be classified as essential. Over to you Mark for statutory, or non statutory, guidance. Pubs have also noted that the Welsh two week period takes in three week ends. .

        1. The ‘killer’ for Drakeford could be books, which are are a good way of passing the time, and escaping into a book might also help people experiencing stress. Yet this ‘non-essentials’ rule is supposed to be helping smaller retailers. There is no bookshop in the Tywyn area so Amazon will do well out of this lockdown. And so will other online retailers.

          1. Dafis

            As ever, governments of all colours won’t do much if anything to compromise the hi tech globalist retailers. That’s the way these wankers want to go. Kill off anything that’s small, dispersed and more difficult to regulate. Amazon ? well governments will fall over themselves to do cosy concessionary deals – this is how big business corners government contacts of all types. Governments are inherently lazy, attracted to the soft option, but lack the negotiating skills to tie up a big private sector service provider to anything remotely resembling a meaningful performance requirement. Laziness and lack of relevant skills – bound to give a positive outcome !!

          2. Brychan

            Here is the scientific evidence collated by Public Health Wales that backs up the need for local lockdowns to be extended to a firebreak policy to prevent migration of the virus between communities. This is the case of Wales also banning cross border non-essential travel.

            https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-10/sars-cov-2-genomic-insights-october-2020.pdf

            When the virus enters the human body anti-bodies are generated and a war ensues. This results in the virus adapting, making very small changes of genetic mutation. This can be identified by genome mapping the hundreds of variants. From this it’s possible to identify where the pilot cases come from. In the case of North Wales, from Liverpool with day trippers, in the case of Aberystwyth and Cardiff, students from England.

            Virus DNA does not lie.

            There is nothing in this finding that justifies why supermarkets can’t sell books or garden centres can’t sell seeds and bulbs. This arbitory ‘essential item’ claim to reinforce the firebreak lockdown, introduced at the last minute by Labour ministers is bogus. It is not based on any scientific finding.

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000nm6s
            From 03:40.

            https://cdn2.expertreviews.co.uk/sites/expertreviews/files/2016/12/kenwood_kmix_kettle_review.jpg
            The Labour Party Covid spreader.

            This is also why Carolyn Harris MP, had significant difficulty in explaining why replacing a broken kettle is an act of virus spreading on BBC England today. The argument that this introduces a level playing field in retail to protect local traders is also bogus. The local post office in Cydweli can sell stamps for the envelope but is banned from selling their birthday cards.

            I sometime wonder what planet the Swansea lesbian basher lives on.

            1. Dafis

              Strange thing this “level playing field”, especially when referring to small businesses. History of Welsh governments suggests that they couldn’t give a shit about the slope on the playing field when handing out large dollops of funding to inward investments who were intent on invading the “commercial space” already occupied by Welsh based SME’s.

              I accepted the original lockdown decision but can now see that it is locking in a hugely illogical and unfair feature. Small shops could have stayed open to trade by continuing with good defensive practices, after all that’s all the supermarkets do, if anything.

        2. Dafis

          Wynne, shutting pubs for 3 weekends must have been a deliberate part of Drakeford’s cunning plan. That said management of pubs and clubs has been very patchy across the old industrial South Wales region. I don’t know what it’s like in your patch. Bridgend been in some sort of ” local lockdown” for weeks yet there were media pictures taken last weekend of crowds gathered at the entrance to a club in town. Volume of vomit and other drunkards’ debris in Bridged and Porthcawl is probably about what it was pre “crisis”. So the messages about restraint aren’t being heeded by those who need to restrain it. Enforcement is a joke especially if the boys in blue are involved.

  11. regionalsceptic

    I do not think we in Wales have to worry about the ‘future’ as it will be decided in England after this current crisis is over.This week in the Daily Telegraph there was an ‘editorial’ about the current ‘settlement’,a comprehensive analysis/article by Matthew Wynn about the current powers of the WAG,particularly in relation to the ‘crisis’,and how the costs are met by english taxpayers and not directly by welsh taxpayers.Then thirdly a online article by Allison Pearson about Drakeford and his merry gang and shutting down Wales for another 17 days.The comments on the latter article were very anti WAG,and for the first time the english seem to be aware of the BF,particularly as their main ‘contributor’ the public funds,i.e London and south east is now in economic crisis as well as rest of country.The same will apply to Scotland as there seems to be a ‘visceral’ hatred now between the SNP and Tory England.I thought ‘devolution’ was to bring the UK together,whereas in reality its tearing it apart.

    1. We are probably nearer to independence than any time for centuries and yet is has nothing to do with Plaid Cymru who seem incapable of even capitalising on the forces beyond our control creating this situation.

      1. regionalsceptic

        I know I might be ‘thick’,but what in reality does independance mean??.We in Wales in reality are hugely divided between the welsh speaking ‘heartlands’,and the vast majority of english only speakers whose great grandparents came from Devon/welsh borders to work in valleys/heavy industry around Bridgend in the 1860’s.Its clear that ’emotion’ is one thing,but hard reality is another,and its the latter that determines the economic well-being or otherwise of any region on the UK,and world wide.We create a lot of talented people in Wales,but virtually ALL the children of people my age in our village are working ‘over the border’ as opportunities are much greater over there after university.The position is not hopeless,however the current ‘forces’ in Wales are turning us into an irrelevance,and worse turning us back to 1800!!

        1. You’re using the arguments for independence against independence. Virtually ALL the children of people my age in our village are working ‘over the border’ as opportunities are much greater over there after university.

        2. Jonathan Edwards

          Dear Regional Sceptic – so you’re writing from the Bridgend area, correct? I am not from the area but I did sail an Osprey on the steelworks lake for a while, and I think I got an idea about the people who live between Swansea and Cardiff. They ran the steelworks and did lots of clever things and were all-round competent. No Welsh language, but that’s OK. But it was a case of neither fish nor fowl. If you come from further west and speak or hear Welsh you’re more conscious of being Welsh. Similarly if you live in Cardiff because its the Capital and you will see a lot of the Draig Goch and hear and read of lot of Welsh. But the Bridgend area is something of a blank in Welsh terms. Just so happens, its not a criticism. But who is running Bridgend’s education and health services -Wales. You have the Police HQ – why is it accountable to London? Could/should be to Wales ie just down the road. HM Revenue and Customs (big in Bridgend) sends Welsh money to London, so London can decide what happens to it. Are you OK with this? No wonder Bridgend kids end up at in Paddington and the other end of the M4. But its not inevitable.

        3. Brychan

          Regionalsceptic.

          You have a point. In Rhondda, my old stomping ground, the house with the new paint on the door surround was always the one where the main earner worked away in Swindon or elsewhere, and it’s true, get a degree and it’s over the border. Not just the English border either.

          Have those who lost their jobs at Fords Bridgend and now work in Valencia or Cologne stopped being Welsh?

          As for yr hen iaith, it’s not true to say that there’s a wall of ‘speakers’. Never really been a fan of the linguistic feat, or the language worn as a badge. Such divisions were invented to sew division and often used in the valleys by the Labour party to quell independent thought. I often see iaith y teulu for families with children yn yr ysgol cymraeg in the valleys. The step to fluency for everyone born of Welsh heritage is a very small one given the opportunity or immersion.

          It should be remembered that a crucial part of the independence struggle includes those working away. Ireland tells that story. That is part of the escape from colonialism, something the independence movement has so far missed. Of course it’s illegal for political parties to be financed from abroad. I’ve seen dollars in Belfast. Now Brexit has happened, will we see Euros in Bryncethin?

          I have also been thinking of the earthquake that starts at the end of this year. It’s when the treaties of the EU to support the integrity of the United Kingdom cease to be. Those who thought that a route to independence existed within the EU were wrong. There may well be events where independence movements in Wales and Scotland will align perfectly with the EU. The EU will have no more loyalty to London than Boston, Massachusetts.

          If Spain wasn’t a member of the EU, Catalonia would be Solovenia now. I know perople from Bridgend who speak French and someone from Port Talbot who speaks German. That wasn’t school at 16, that was work at 36. There is more than one border. Vår tid kommer as they say in Cydweli.

  12. Dafis

    I read somewhere that Greens in Wales are pro independence, using that strong verb “to secede”. Does this mean that they will first of all secede from the Englandandwales body within which they are currently tucked, or is this just another round of posturing aimed at getting the 2021 votes of a slice of the naive wing of the crowd that now find indy “fashionable” but deep down only enjoy narrow ishoo based campaigns ?

    1. The hypocrisy in supporting Welsh independence while not even wanting a Welsh Green Party is breathtaking. I think you’re right about going for the list votes next May, especially with brainwashed 16- and 17-year-olds being allowed to vote.

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