Archive for June, 2010

Labour push ahead

The election of a Conservative- Liberal Democrat government in Westminster has created a bounce. But the bounce is for Labour in Wales at least according to the ITV Wales YouGov tracking poll.

42 per cent of those polled have indicated that if there was an Assembly election held now they would vote Labour in Constituency vote. This is an increase of 10% from May. This same level of increase was also reflected in which party they would vote for in the regional list vote ’“ 40 per cent.

This beats Labour’s best-ever vote in an Assembly election, which was 40% constituency and 37% regional in 2003, when they won 30 of the 60 seats.

The big losers are the Liberal Democrats with a fall of 8 per cent from their May ratings. At that time 20 per cent would vote for them in the constituency vote and 18 per cent in the regional lists. This latest poll shows a drop to 12 per cent in both constituency and regional lists.

Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives are running neck and neck with one another. With those polled indicating that 20 per cent would vote for Plaid Cymru in the constituency section and 19 per cent on the regional list. And those indicated that their preference for the Conservatives would be on the basis of 19 per cent in the constituency and 20 per cent on the regional list.

On the basis of this poll Labour could for the first time edge towards a majority in the Assembly.

The same poll indicates an increase in the number of those likely to vote ’˜Yes’ in favour of more law making powers for the Assembly. Now 55% are in favour; 28% against and 17% either don’t know how they’d vote or won’t vote at all on the issue. This is 6 per cent up on ITV Wales’s April poll.

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All good things are worth a wait

This term of the National Assembly may not come to a close next May. No there hasn’t been a coup and we are not under military rule. The civilian leaders of the Assembly just want an extension of their term of office. In the words of Corporal Jones ,’don’t panic’. We’re not being deprived of our democratic right to turf politicians out of office for too long.

The four parties want a month’s stay of execution. Why? Well, all the parties are going to have a massive love in. They are all going to be singing from the same hymn sheet for the period preceding the referendum, which is expected to be held in early March. So we’ll have a period of sweetness and light between late summer and next spring. All Assembly Members will be cosing up to each other. Whether Members of Parliament will enter into the spirit of things remains to be seen, but as they say that’s a different story.

And then? Well business as usual. Hostilities will break out again. Inter-party strife for the election.

The only problem is that the party bosses feel that a couple of months might not be enough to make us the electorate forget this new ‘respect’ type of politics.

No, they need a longer period to get back into their old ways and back to politics as usual. So in a private meeting recently the four party leaders decided that they would ask Secretary of State Gillan to postpone the election for a month. For the ‘She’ has it in her gift to grant the request.

A letter is being prepared by Carwyn Jones at the moment to ask the favour.

So the trip to the polling station for the Assembly elections is likely to be in June of next year. All good things are worth the wait, surely!

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Three years of cohabiting

Over three years ago there was a choice to be made, to break the mould of Welsh politics and throw Labour out of office and hope that there was a pot of gold at the end of that particular rainbow.

The other choice was to get into bed with the class warriors and forget the rainbow of colours and simply concentrate on green and red.

As the second largest party it was very much Plaid Cymru’s call. As we all know they decided on Labour and as they say the rest is history.

Well, the agreement has delivered the one prize that Plaid Cymru were really after apart that is from getting their backsides on seats around the cabinet table. Yes, the prize was a referendum on strengthening the law making powers of the National Assembly. However, there is a certain irony in the fact that it is a Conservative Secretary of State that is setting the timetable for said vote.

Cheryl Gillan the new ’˜she’ of Welsh politics has given the Welsh chattering class until the Spring to convince us the great unwashed, that the Assembly really does need these powers and it is really worth all our whiles to trudge out in the cold and vote for such.

’˜She’ and her government will stay strictly neutral on the issue. All the running will be done by Assembly politicians. Yes, they of the Bay will speak almost with one voice in favour of the proposition.

Within the next ten weeks the Electoral Commission will consult on the suitability of the question and the preamble that the Wales office of the Westminster government has sent them. So by the end of Summer we will know exactly what the question and the preamble will be.

Then the campaigning will begin in earnest.

There are two obstacles that those in favour of a ’˜yes’ vote have to overcome. The first is how do you persuade people that a gradualist approach to law making that involves both Westminster and the Assembly should be put aside in favour of the big bang of all the powers resting in Cardiff Bay.

Most people are suspicious of power resting in the hands of too small a group of politicians. And the mantra often heard is that politicians should try working together a bit more. The current settlement is the very embodiment of such.

The second and perhaps biggest problem for the ’˜yes’ campaign is the anti-politics feeling that is abroad in the country. Most punters feel that there should be a plague on all their houses. If politicians are urging you to vote ’˜yes’ the natural response is to vote ’˜no’.

My guess is that if they really want to win, the ’yes’ campaigners should encourage anyone but anyone that is not a politician to be the public face of such a campaign.

Who? ’˜Nessa’ from Gavin and Stacy fame. She’s far to scary to disagree with. Any other suggestions?

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