EU Election: build-up, analysis and fall-out

This is in the form of a journal, covering the days leading up to the EU election, the election itself, the results, and of course, it concludes with an erudite analysis.

Yes, it’s another biggie, but broken up into daily sections for easier consumption. Enjoy!

WEDNESDAY

I can barely hear myself think, what with the brass bands playing out in the street, dogs barking, rival party canvassers hurling abuse at one another – look! one of the Change UK crew just punched a Green Party (of England) canvasser who’s dressed as a parsnip! It’s all happening here, I tell you.

I’ve just been to Tywyn for my morning coffee and it’s hectic there, too, a riot of colour; I’ve never seen so many posters up in windows and placards in front gardens and fields. People are intoxicated with excitement and are already queuing outside the polling station, Thermos flasks and sandwich boxes in their backpacks.

In fact, I haven’t seen such excitement since news of the relief of Mafeking came over the telegraph wire.

(Sod it, I can’t keep this up.)

Truth is, you’d never know there was an election happening. I have not seen a single canvasser, poster or placard, just minimalist leaflets delivered by the postie. If democracy is in peril – as the left keeps screeching – then it might be because nobody cares.

I’ve just watched BBC ‘Parliament Live’ and it’s obvious that Theresa May is on her last legs, there is little support for her anywhere in the House. Her legacy might be that through blind stubbornness she will have delivered what few really wanted just a few months ago – a hard Brexit.

Image courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

Here in Wales, Plaid Cymru is happy because a poll puts them on 19% for tomorrow’s election. But with the two main parties in complete disarray, the not-quite-dead Lib Dems on 10%, the Green Party (of England) on 8%, and a party that didn’t exist a few months ago on 36%, maybe 19% isn’t really that impressive.

Especially as Plaid got 15% in the previous EU election in 2014. And this time around is promoting itself as the last best hope for Remainers.

In Scotland, the same polling company came up with the following figures: SNP 38%, Brexit Party 20%, Green 11%, Labour 10%, Conservatives 10%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 2%, Change UK 2%, Other 1%.

It would appear that for this election much of the Unionist-Brexit vote in Scotland is coalescing behind the Brexit Party, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the Green Party in Scotland supports independence. So even though this is a EU vote there could be a majority tomorrow for pro-independence parties.

I’ve got a hell of a cold.

To be continued . . .

THURSDAY, ELECTION DAY

I can’t report ‘fevered activity’ because there isn’t any, certainly not on the EU election front. This election we shouldn’t be having has people thinking of things other than who gets to sit in the EU Parliament.

For most in the Conservative Party the objective now seems to be removing the Prime Minister. Earlier in the week the cabinet agreed on a way to proceed with Brexit, but by the time Mrs May brought it to the House of Commons the agreed plan had changed in ways that most cabinet members couldn’t accept.

This sealed Mrs May’s fate. Another blow was the resignation of Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House. It’s only a matter of time now.

But back to the election where, on Twitter, Plaid Cymru seems to be anticipating a good result. Time will tell.

click to enlarge

Despite having a hell of a cold I bravely decided to stay up to watch Newsnight. An interesting panel for the discussion (27:25); people who were there at the end with Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, plus Fraser Nelson of the Spectator.

It was generally agreed that Mrs Thatcher would go after President Trump visits in early June. Fraser Nelson pointing out that in the morning she meets Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee and if she can’t produce an acceptable plan for slinging her hook then he will open the dreaded sealed envelopes and that will be that.

Talk inevitably turned to her successor, and the usually well-informed Fraser Nelson told us that Boris Johnson is “so far ahead with the country” that there might be no contest. In other words, the Tory grassroots want someone who might win a general election, or be able to repel – even align himself with? – the Farage juggernaut.

By 36:55 talk turned to the Union, and a how a ‘no-dealer’ like Boris Johnson might threaten this sacred bond. The view was that, essentially, the harder the Brexit the more likely it is to result in Scottish independence.

The other side of this coin, is of course that staying in the EU – which is what Plaid Cymru wants – is more likely to hold the Union together. Which in turn means that by becoming a Remainer party Plaid Cymru could be seen as turning its back on Wales and independence to play silly, British, games. And not for the first time.

For me, as ever, the priority is independence, and I don’t care if it’s delivered by Old Nick himself.

Elsewhere . . .

The Assembly sat and debated a Conservative motion reading, ‘The Welsh economy has stagnated since devolution’.

click to enlarge

The motion was lost because Plaid Cymru supported Labour, as it always does.

Over the years I’ve noticed that Plaid Cymru is quite prepared to mildly criticise Labour . . . until the Conservatives appear. Then it’s socialist solidarity all the way. Labour knows this and can play Plaid Cymru like a violin.

In fact, I think the motion was rather generous. The Welsh economy hasn’t stagnated since devolution – it’s gone backwards. And it’s all due to Labour and Plaid Cymru. Which is why they could hardly admit it.

Still suffering with my cold.

To be continued . . .

FRIDAY

My cold is worse. (I knew you’d be worrying.)

Theresa May has finally resigned. It’s almost anti-climactic, it feels like we’ve been here so many times recently. As Fraser Nelson said on Newsnight, “Ever since she lost her general election her card has been marked”.

Reminding us yet again that for the Conservative Party in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century ‘Europe’ has become what Ireland was for the nineteenth century Liberal Party.

In her farewell speech outside No 10 Mrs May mentioned ‘the Union’ a number of times which, with the increasing prospect of Boris Johnson replacing her, comes under greater threat. The prospect of dealing with Johnson may have prompted Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to go straight for the nuts with this tweet.

click to enlarge

But of course, the SNP is in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, yes, most Scots voted to Remain. But if the loonies take over the asylum and broadcasters are forced to run Churchill speeches interspersed with musical interludes by Dame Vera Lynn and the Band of the Coldstream Guards then – as I argued in my previous posting – it greatly increases the chances of Scottish independence.

The same applies in Wales. Wanting to be on the side of the angels is all well and good over a skinny latte in Corruption Bay, but when you know that the ‘devils’ are more likely to deliver what you have yearned for all your life then you have to be pragmatic.

I shall definitely have an early night tonight.

To be continued . . .

SATURDAY

This cold of mine could be psychosomatic, connected with the lack of football on the telly, but there are three games today. One being the Scottish Cup Final between Hearts and Celtic, then Newport play Tranmere in the League Two play-off final, and finally, this evening, Barcelona play Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.

The games at Hampden and Wembley both kick off at 3pm. How difficult would it have been to move the Newport v Tranmere game to 5pm? What does it say about the Union? Did somebody in the English FA say, ‘Oh sod that game up there, only the Jocks will want to watch it’. Wrong!

One of the best games I’ve seen in recent years was the 2016 Final between Hibernian and Rangers. With the Hibbees winning in injury time, their first triumph in 114 years. This was followed by fans brawling on the pitch and then, after the polis eventually restored order and got the Gers fans out, we were treated to a glorious rendition of Sunshine on Leith.

What other sport offers you all that?

Being Saturday, there’s little happening on the political front. Though my attention was drawn to a piece on Nation.Cymru yesterday entitled This EU Election was a big disappointment by Remain parties, an outcome Ifan Morgan Jones attributes to a lack of preparedness on the part of the Remain parties combined with Liberal Democrat perfidy.

On the sporting front, Celtic beat Hearts 2 – 1, Newport lost in extra time, and the Copa del Rey final wasn’t even bloody televised! What the hell am I paying for? Never mind, I watched Roscommon beat Mayo in the football (Gaelic) from Castlebar. I kept thinking, ‘I’m sure there’s a Rebel song with a reference to chasing “redcoats through old Castlebar”‘.

The cold persists. I have been bringing up impressive amounts of phlegm from the bronchial region and I’m also into the runny nose stage. The Jac nostrils will need to be plugged tonight ere I lay down my aching head.

To be continued . . .

SUNDAY – THE RESULTS!

Before I could settle down and start working myself up into the required frenzy ahead of the results I had a few chores to fulfil. One being to deliver grandchildren home to Tywyn ahead of the local carnival.

After dropping them off and doing some shopping I was driving past the Co-op when I felt a knock and realised that my nearside wing mirror had been pushed in. Obviously a coming together of my wing mirror with that of a parked car. The traffic made it impossible to stop so I drove on intending to pull into the school driveway.

But then I realised that I was being pursued by a gangly youth, soon joined by another youth, also gangly. The first of them ran in front of my car and stood there with hands on my car bonnet. Then he took a photo of my number plate before demanding that I get out. Which I did.

This first youth then ranted about damage to his vehicle and pointed to my still pushed in wing mirror as evidence of collateral damage to my vehicle. (With his erudite mate contributing ‘Yeah’.) So I walked round, pulled the mirror back into position, showed him that the glass was intact, and that what he insisted was ‘damage’ to the outer shell was just dead bugs. This deflated him somewhat.

Unkind words were then exchanged to the merriment of the growing crowd and we parted acrimoniously, with the first youth – the more loquacious of the two – aiming a kick at the rear of the Jacmobile as a parting shot.

click to enlarge

Picture the scene, gentle reader: a man who never annoys anyone and who has always supported the tourism industry is accosted on a public thoroughfare by two young persons visiting from Englandland. Oh! the irony, the irony.

(Am I over-egging this?)

Anyway, as insurance, the incident was reported to North Wales Police soon after I got home. A young lady called at 2:09 from a withheld number, and assured me that someone would be in touch in a few days to take further details.

Then I settled down to watch  Sunderland lose to Charlton in the last minute of injury time. No luck for these Black Cats.

All other matters aside – but still struggling with my cold – I turned my attentions to the elections, the results of which will be out tonight. Though not all the results from Scotland or Northern Ireland; due to Hebridean Sabbatarians and the complexity of the voting system over the water.

To get us warmed up for the main event Ifan Morgan Jones is doing his now customary routine on Nation.Cymru with his live election blog. Despite bigging up Plaid Cymru IMJ has to concede that both Lib Dems and Greens will do well.

Though other projections only serve to illustrate how lightly people take these EU elections. IWJ reports that Greens are expected to win 23% of the vote in Ireland, up from 1.2% last time. If true, then a jump like that can only attributed to a ‘What the hell? – these elections don’t really matter’ attitude.

I have a bottle of Malbec uncorked and I shall soon settle down for the results programme.

It’s now 1am and I’ve seen enough to tell me that this is an unreal election. I’m not saying that tonight’s results will not have lasting implications, but I am saying they will not be repeated in a ‘real’ election.

I shall conclude this marathon piece tomorrow with a more thorough analysis of the results in Wales and beyond. Perhaps even the Western Isles.

And anyway, there’s no rush. Today is a Bank Holiday, people will have other things to do, places to go. I shall now return to my Malbec.

But before rejoining that most glorious product of Argentina I must comment on this tweet I just picked up.

click to enlarge

Why should a football fans’ group, supposedly appealing to fans of all political persuasions, takes sides politically? Do those running this Twitter account seriously believe that all Welsh football fans agree with their sentiments? This is the social media ‘echo chamber’ at its worst.

Are we supposed to believe that people who voted Brexit don’t sing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau? Don’t support the national football team? Aren’t proud to be Welsh?

Remainers are proving to be very divisive in Wales, and in areas where Brexit should not intrude, such as the movement for independence, and now – football!

To be continued . . .

MONDAY, ANALYSIS

Here are the headlines: The SNP increased its dominance in Scotland, but in Wales and England the clear winner was The Brexit Party, formed less than two months ago. The two ‘main parties’ got hammered everywhere.

If you regard Thursday’s vote as some kind of second referendum on Brexit, then a) you’re probably a Remainer, and b) you really should get a life.

Remainers are claiming victory because, they argue, parties backing a second referendum, or staying in the EU, ‘won’ what was really a party political election. In other words, we must regard Thursday’s vote as another referendum on Brexit! Or maybe a referendum about a referendum?

Which explains why turnout was higher in areas that voted Remain in 2016 than in areas that voted Leave. And this is why I would urge caution in interpreting Thursday’s result. Because if Remainers were more successful in getting their supporters out then that is not necessarily a good indicator of how a second referendum might pan out.

click to enlarge

Something else worth remembering is that the turnout on Thursday was just 37.1% in Wales. The UK figure for the 2016 referendum was 72.2%. Which means that there are a lot of Brexit voters out there who gave the polling stations a miss on Thursday.

That’s because those who voted Leave in 2016, and with Brexit now on the horizon, felt no urgency to express their views. As in life, you’re more likely to make a fuss if you feel you’re being ignored, or if you’ve lost.

Now let’s look more closely at the result in Wales. And previous results.

click to enlarge

As you read at the top, the winner by a mile was The Brexit Party. Greens and Liberal Democrats were both pleased with their performances. Even though they won the EU elections ten years ago on Thursday the Tories got less than half the Lib Dem vote and only just beat the Green Party of England.

This is obviously due to the disastrous premiership of Theresa May. Which means that with the right replacement the party should recover much of the ground lost.

While the Conservative share of the vote was down to just over a third of what was achieved in 2014, Labour did rather better in slipping from a poll topping 28.15% in 2014 to 15.3%.

But this defeat can also be attributed to the party leader, though unlike the Tories, Labour seems to be stuck with theirs. The nominal leader of Labour in Wales, a Matt Drakewell, responded to the result with uncharacteristic decisiveness and, perhaps even more surprising, he seemed to challenge Comrade Corbyn:

“Faced with the damage of a hard-line, Tory Brexit, Welsh Labour believes that the final decision must be made by the public in a referendum. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, a Welsh Labour government would campaign, in such a vote, for Wales to remain in the EU.”

No doubt that announcement will be welcomed in Corruption Bay, from where so much EU funding has been distributed to cronies, but it’s guaranteed to lose Labour tens of thousands of votes in the heartlands that should have seen that money.

Now let’s turn to Plaid Cymru.

Publicly, Plaid is claiming a great victory because, as leader Adam Price put it, “This result is an historic one for Plaid Cymru, beating Labour in a national election for the first time.” Except that . . .

Many in Plaid Cymru expected to get well above 20%; to be achieved by getting some of the votes that eventually went to the Greens and the Lib Dems. For as I said earlier, Plaid had been assiduously promoting itself as THE Remainer party in this election, but too many voters refused to buy it.

Yes, Plaid’s vote was an improvement on 2014, but ten percentage points below what the party achieved in 1999 under Dafydd Wigley. Then again, maybe Adam Price should be thankful Plaid didn’t do better, otherwise he might have found himself out of a job.

‘Progress’ for Plaid Cymru means ignoring the steps backwards and only remembering the forward steps trying to make up lost ground. Overall, taking the long view, there has been no progress at all for Plaid Cymru in twenty years. Or maybe ninety years.

With Labour tearing itself apart over Brexit Plaid Cymru has never had a better chance to win an election, but it still lost to a party less than two months old, with no manifesto, no policies, no nothing.

My cold is much improved. Nice of you to ask.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Brexit is not going away. It is set to haunt and bedevil the politics of these islands for many years to come.

Which might explain why Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, speaking in Dublin today, promised a second independence referendum in the second half of 2020. She wants out, and believes that enough Scots agree with her to deliver a Yes vote next year.

Plaid Cymru wants a second EU referendum, but what purpose would it serve? If it delivered a Remain victory then those who voted for Brexit in 2016 would argue that they have been cheated. If it reaffirms Brexit then Remainers will still not accept it.

While the SNP wants to leave this mess behind Plaid Cymru wants to get involved in an English civil war. That’s because for Plaid Cymru Brexit is now more important than independence. To the point where many Plaid Remainers regard those who voted for Brexit or the Brexit Party as some form of untermensch.

Here’s one Plaid supporter tonight calling the people of Blaenau Gwent ‘Morlocks‘! These are Welsh people being insulted by a Plaid Cymru supporter for holding different views to him – yet Plaid will soon be asking these people for their votes!

click to enlarge

When did Plaid Cymru become such an extreme and intolerant Remain Party? And why has a ‘socialist’ party turned on the working class?

England is on the road to chaos, Brexit simply exposes older and deeper divisions, over class, the north-south divide, anger at London being so rich while former industrial areas are left to rot. This could get nasty.

Which is why I believe that the priority, now more than ever, must be independence. To maximise support for independence we need another political party to reach out to those that Plaid Cymru is not only unable to reach, but is now insulting and alienating.

This tweet is from Channel 4 director and producer, Martin Durkin. In Wales Plaid Cymru has also adopted the Brahmin left position – at the prompting of the third sector. Click to enlarge.

Those who are not socialists, those who have reservations about the EU, those beyond the echo chambers and the incestuous networks of Corruption Bay. Those that so many in Brahmin left Plaid Cymru now regard as poor, stupid and inferior.

Fortunately we have such a party in Ein Gwlad. A party that will never be flattered or cajoled into lining up with those who don’t give a damn about Wales. A party that knows who Wales’s friends are, and can also identify her enemies.

And I can promise the people of Blaenau Gwent and other parts of Wales that Ein Gwlad will never call desperate Welsh people in abandoned communities ‘Morlocks’.

♦ end ♦

 

Alun Cairns, Severnside, the Union

SEVERNSIDE

Llais y Sais last Saturday published a curious report – presumably written by Martin Shipton – of a speech made to the Welsh Conservative Spring Conference by Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns (below).

It was almost in the form of an apologia, though of course Cairns didn’t write the article himself. The piece was clearly a response to the criticism he’s received over ‘his’ decision to rename the Second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge.

In this post I shall examine what he said and then give my interpretations and opinions.

click to enlarge

Let’s start with Cairns’ reference to “the important connections Wales has with the Royal Family”. These were helpfully listed in the article: Welsh gold, Felinfoel beer and Pembrokeshire corgis. Let’s take them one by one.

Gold. During the Roman empire there were people across Europe wearing Welsh gold. So all this ‘connection’ tells us is that Wales has gold and people like wearing gold. And if I’m not mistaken, the English royals don’t even pay for theirs.

Beer. So Big Ears likes a drop of Feelingfoul (so we’re told), but then he and the rest of his family pretend to like all sorts of things to please people, that’s their job. And there must be a good geographical spread – Pontefract cakes, Highland whisky, Cornish pasties, etc., etc.

Pembrokeshire corgis. Is this supposed to prove love for Wales, or Pembrokeshire? I used to have Airedales, but I didn’t break into Ilkla Moor baht ‘at at the drop of a flat cap.

Let’s be honest, these are not meaningful ‘connections’, this is clutching at straws. So let’s move on.

The Bridge inevitably figures strongly in his oration, as does his beloved Severnside, which he described as a “cross-border economic region”, and went on to laud:

  • A financial services sector worth £2.5bn a year.
  • A creative industry cluster employing 15,000 people, including the BBC drama village in Cardiff Bay and its Natural History Unit in Bristol.
  • The world’s largest compound semiconductor cluster in Newport working with quantum technology at Bristol University.
  • Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students, three of which are members of the Russell Group.
  • The new Qatar Airlines link to Doha which put Cardiff at the heart of this new economic region on the western side of the UK.

Again, desperate stuff, with the claims unclear or impossible to justify.

For example, what does “worth £2.5bn a year” mean? Who calculated that figure?

“Nine universities with nearly 170,000 students” might sound impressive, until you realise that it’s too many of both. Universities are now businesses, turning out too many unemployable young people with degrees nobody wants and debts most of them will never pay off.

But where the wee man went for broke was in having the nerve to mention Cardiff airport after not so long ago prioritising the interests of Bristol airport by refusing to devolve Air Passenger Duty, despite Cardiff Wales airport being in his Vale of Glamorgan constituency!

And as for Qatar Airlines, let’s wait and see what ‘inducements’ were offered by Carwyn Jones and his band of economic whizz-kids. Because some argue that no company using the airport pays its whack, and the ‘Welsh’ Government has to bribe and beg users to come, and then bribe them to stay.

Cairns believes Severnside should be “learning from and achieving the same dynamism as the north Wales/North West axis”. So how’s that working out?

Investment and employment goes to north west England but northern Wales builds thousands of new homes for those wishing to move out of Greater Manchester and Merseyside but who find no welcome in Cheshire communities fearful of over-development resulting in falling property values.

click to enlarge

In addition, the decaying towns of the littoral – particularly Rhyl – will continue their decline as more and more of England’s underclass and criminal elements are dumped there

In addition to commuters and degenerates the north can expect the flood of elderly people to continue until our NHS and social services finally collapse under the strain.

The ‘achievements’ of the Mersey-Dee Alliance are nothing to crow about, much less emulate.

Cairns’ ended his speech with: “The socialist and nationalist parochial and protectionist agenda lacks confidence in our people and stifles the innovation and entrepreneurialism they show. Now, more than ever, we must be confident and outward-looking”.

And this remember was said by a representative of a BritNat government withdrawing inelegantly from the EU, deporting people who’ve lived here for decades, and exploring all sorts of measures to stop Johnny Foreigner coming to live here in the first place.

It would be easy to laugh, but it’s too serious for that.

THE UNION

There are countless synonyms for union: association, alliance, harmony, concord are just a few. Whether it’s a plumbing part or marriage, whether we consider the USA or the Farmers Union of Wales, a union brings together two or more parts for the mutual and equal benefit of those entering into or joining the union.

And yet, by any criterion we apply, Wales is worse off than England, and the gap between us widens every year. Significantly, perhaps, Scotland was not a lot better, but in recent years Scotland’s economy, health service and so many other yardsticks used to measure a country’s well-being have improved relative to England, and left Wales lagging further behind.

Which means that if Alun Cairns was defending the Union then he would be fighting to ensure that Llanelli was as prosperous as Weybridge; that Wales did not lose out in spending on railways and other infrastructure; that we received fair payment for the water that is taken, the electricity exported, that Air Passenger Duty is devolved, and many other things.

But he does none of this, he simply defends the inequalities that make a mockery of the term ‘Union’ with insulting nonsense about corgis and beer. Proving that this is no union as that word is globally understood. It is clearly some other form of political arrangement, one that is less than equal, and this explains why Wales is so much poorer than England.

It is often at this point that the cavalry of the Brit left rides over the hill with, ‘Ah, but there are deprived towns and cities in England – have you ever been to Stoke on Trent, or Blackpool? ‘ Er, yes, I have, but so what? These and all the other run-down towns and districts are England’s problem, and can be remedied with better distribution of the wealth England so obviously possesses.

Wales has no such wealth to distribute, and will never be treated as an equal member of a Union. Wales suffers because she is different; we know it and the difference is recognised by the English, and acknowledged in more ways than the casual racism that has become the norm.

Having mentioned the Brit left in Wales, let’s also remember its foundation myth, which relates how Wales came into existence with the Industrial Revolution, emerging from the void. The same Brit left that has collaborated with Alun Cairns and his predecessors to undermine and impoverish Wales for over a century in order to maintain its fiefdom.

“Take from the colonies”. That’s how it works.

There is no measurable or practical difference between the Labour and Conservative parties in Wales, both seek to keep Wales a colony of England. Making this non-Union they both defend nothing less than a crude and increasingly obvious form of internal colonialism from which they benefit so well.

In addition to the managed decline of our post-industrial areas we see social engineering in our rural areas, accompanied by the ridicule of our language, the changing of our place names, adding up to the destruction of our national identity. All done under the guise of tourism and other idiocies that deliver nothing but minority status for us in our own land.

Political debate in Wales must no longer be shaped by the false paradigm of left and right but by whether Wales remains an impoverished and exploited colony of England or whether we make Wales the country she should be, through independence.

To conclude, Alun Cairns is clearly no Unionist, for you cannot defend what does not exist; Cairns is simply putting a gloss on colonialism and exploitation founded in racism. Which makes him nothing more than a willing mouthpiece for his political masters and his social superiors; those whose predecessors – and not so long ago – traded slaves, and sent children down coal mines.

This cannot continue, the Wales we love will not long survive this system of colonialism. But there is hope, for a new force is emerging in Welsh politics. If you want to be part of this fight against colonialism, this drive for independence, then show your support for Ein Gwlad today.

♦ end ♦

 

‘Vote Plaid Cymru – Get Labour’

Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, has announced that her party will not go into coalition with the Conservatives after next May’s elections to the Notional Assembly. (Read all about it!) From where I’m sitting, this would appear to condemn Plaid Cymru to either impotence or a pact with Labour. Not an attractive choice, Leanne Woodbut then, when you play student politics with a nation’s future, and duck the real issues, you deserve no third option. Though the nation of course deserves a lot better than Plaid Cymru.

If my judgement strikes some as a little harsh, then that’s because, as a nationalist, I have little time for Plaid Cymru. But before dismissing my opinion out of hand let us examine the possibilities for next May’s elections. A good way to start is by reminding ourselves of the results from the Assembly election in 2011 and the two polls since then, the Euro elections of May 2014 and the UK general election of May 2015.

In 2011, Labour gained 30 seats, half of the total, and chose not to go into coalition with another party. They’ve never really come unstuck. Plaid Cymru came third, with less than half of Labour’s vote in both constituencies and regions, and well behind the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats averaged over 9% of the total, while Ukip, who contested only the regional lists, gained a paltry 4.6% of the votes cast.Assembly election 2011

By the European elections of 2014 Ukip had transformed itself into a major force in the politics of Englandandwales (but not Scotland), and was now the second party in Wales, just .6 of a percentage point behind Labour. All the other parties bar the Greens lost ground.

Just seven weeks ago we saw Ukip fall back somewhat, and drop from its second place in 2014 to third, but it still got more votes than Plaid Cymru. In fact, Ukip came second to Labour in a number of Valleys’ seats which, when taken with the increase in the Tory vote, tells us there was a move to the right which, as I suggested in my blog post Election 2015: Plaid Cymru Fails, Again, might have marked the death of the ‘socialist Wales’ myth. From these recent results it’s reasonable to predict that Labour, with just 30 seats in 2011 and its share of the votEuro election 2014e dropping since then, will not win 30 seats in 2016.

The major changes since 2011 are, quite obviously, the rise of Ukip, then there’s the increase in the Tory vote, and finally the near-demise of the Liberal Democrats. Next year Ukip could, if the heavenly bodies align aright, win a seat or two; though if that doesn’t pan out, and given that the party might get 15 – 20% of the regional vote, then it could pick up 5 – 8 seats.

Labour has in previous Assembly elections gained less than other parties from the regional lists, just two seats in 2011, because it wins so many constituency seats, so the bigger threat to Labour may come at the constituency level. With Labour losing Gower and the Vale of Clwyd to the Conservatives last month, and the Lib Dems losing Brecon & Radnor to the same opponents, there must be a possibility that these resuGE2015lts will be repeated next year. If so, then it would establish the Tories as the second largest party by some margin. This seems predictable because the number of Plaid Cymru AMs is bound to fall, partly because other than Llanelli  it’s impossible to see a seat Plaid could gain (though maybe not if Siân Caiach stands again), and Plaid is bound to lose out to Ukip in the regional allocation. Though if the Lib Dems do lose Brecon & Radnor then that makes it more likely they will be compensated with a couple of regional seats.

Looking at the bigger picture it would not be unreasonable to predict the following result for next year’s Assembly elections: Labour 26 seats (-4), Conservative 17 (+3), Ukip 7 (+7), Plaid Cymru 7 (-4), Lib Dems 2 (-2), Greens 1 (+1). Which would mean that to cobble together an administration Labour would need to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru, which is almost certainly what influenced Ms Wood’s rejection of a deal with the Tories. But this is so short-sighted.

Being a native of the Rhondda Ms Wood must know that throughout the Valleys (and indeed the south) there are tens and tens of thousands of people looking for a Prediction 2016viable alternative to Labour, that’s why they turned out last month and last year to vote Tory and Ukip in Caerffili, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent and Islwyn, and in the process pushed Plaid Cymru down to fourth place. So why should anyone who doesn’t want Labour in power vote for the party that will keep Labour in power?

There may be another, even less charitable way of looking at this. Over the years I have consistently argued that the Labour Party relies on deprivation in Wales – and blaming the Tories for that deprivation – to keep people voting Labour. This means that Labour has no incentive to make Wales a wealthier country, and this then explains the obscene amounts of public funding wasted on Labour’s cronies in the Third Sector, so that they can make an industry out of deprivation and present their parasitism as a form of economic activity.

Could it be that Plaid Cymru, most definitely a begging bowl party, has taken this reasoning a step further? Have those at the highest, policy-making levels of the party calculated that if a poor Wales votes Labour, then a poorer Wales might swing towards Plaid Cymru? Don’t dismiss the suggestion out of hand; just ask yourself, what other hope has Plaid Cymru got of ever becoming a successful party? Well, of course, there is one, obvious route; Plaid could be a Welsh party, focusing on Welsh issues, from a Welsh perspective. But that option was rejected in favour of a slow, lingering death – for both nation and party – decades ago.

Last month I loaned Plaid Cymru my vote because I persuaded myself that doing so was a way of giving a proxy vote to the SNP, a party I respect greatly for confronting the Labour monster head-on, and slaying it. Compare that to what we now hear from Plaid Cymru – ‘A vote for us is a vote for Labour’. How do we explain the difference?begging bowl 1

I can’t help thinking that one explanation for ruling out any pact with the Tories may be Ms Wood’s desire to play to a foreign gallery. I’m thinking now of those Left-Green ‘progressive elements’ Plaid so assiduously courted a few months ago. If so, then it’s another reminder of how divorced from Wales and Welsh issues Plaid Cymru has become. By comparison, the Scottish National Party does not fashion its policies to appeal to audiences in Islington, or the offices of the Guardian newspaper . . . and certainly not Labour HQ!

But if Plaid Cymru wants to talk about poverty, then okay. Let’s talk about the poverty of ambition in the party that has the nerve to call itself The Party of Wales. While the SNP is leading the Scottish people to independence, Plaid Cymru’s ambition extends no further than begging a few more crumbs from England’s table and propping up Carwyn Jones and his gang of deadbeats. Almost fifty years after Gwynfor Evans won Carmarthen Plaid Cymru’s ambition today extends no further than acting as a crutch for the party of George Thomas and Neil Kinnock in a system of sham devolution. Now that’s poverty! And total failure.