Archive for April, 2011

Will students skew results in Cardiff central?

CARDIFF CENTRAL

2007 Assembly election results

Party

Votes Cast

Percentage

Randerson, Jenny

Liberal Democrat

11,462

51.2

Lent, Sue

Labour

4,897

21.9

Murphy, Andrew

Conservative

3,137

14

Whitfield,

Plaid Cymru

3,758

11.2

Mahoney, Kevin

UKIP

2,310

6.9

Electorate 62,114 Turnout: 36.1%

This central Cardiff constituency includes the prosperous city centre, and some of the rich suburbs such Cyncoed and Roath Lake. But it also contains some of the poorer wards of the City.

Various Universities and colleges are based here and consequently the seat houses the largest number of students based in any Welsh constituency, many of who are on the electoral register. The Liberal Democrats control the Cardiff County Council with many of their Councillors representing wards within the seat.

Political Profile

This is one of the safest Liberal Democrat seat in the Assembly. The seat was won by the now Lady Randerson in 1999 she held onto the seat until these elections. She is standing down and the candidate that the Liberal Democrats have chosen to replace her is a Councillor representing the Adamsdown ward in the constituency.

Labour, have chosen their unsuccessful general election candidate to fight the seat.

The Conservatives held the seat in Westminster up until 1992 but due to boundary changes are now disadvantaged. They can no longer be regarded as serious contenders. The party seems to have acknowledged this by choosing an inexperienced young candidate who is gaff prone [see biog. below]. Plaid Cymru and the Independent have no chance and are not in the running.

It is very much a two-horse race between Labour and Liberal Democrats.

Labour has been campaigning hard amongst the students to exploit the sense of betrayal felt be students with the Liberal Democrat’s ’˜u’ turn on fees. Many feel that this could be decisive in pushing the seat towards Labour. But with many students away for Easter and those remaining busy with finals the student vote is unlikely to be high.

The Liberal Democrats have a large majority and a very organized campaign so should in this seat buck their disastrous poll ratings. They will also be helped by many Tories voting tactically to keep Labour out.

Prediction: Liberal Democrat to keep hold of the seat

Labour

Jenny Rathbone

Jenny Rathbone – Lives in the constituency and is a journalist. She fought the seat in the general election and came second to the Liberal Democrat’s Jenny Willott. She’s a school governor. Worked as the programme manager of a Sure Start programme. She is also a member of a health trust. Is a member of the Unite union.

Conservative

Matt Smith

Matt Smith, a personal injury lawyer, was educated locally and has been appointed a Special Advisor on Education Policy by Welsh Conservative Party leader Nick Bourne.

His party has reprimanded him after comparing the left-wing Respect party to paedophiles when he was a candidate for the party in Tower Hamlets for a seat on this London Council.

Liberal Democrat

Nigel Howells

Nigel Howells has represented Adamsdown on Cardiff Council since 1999 and has been the Council’s Executive Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture since 2004.

He is a School Governor at Adamsdown Primary and Stacey Primary Schools.

Plaid Cymru

Chris Williams lives in Dinas Powys with his family, where he serves as a Plaid Cymru Councillor having been elected to the Vale council in 2000.

He has served as a Cabinet Member on the Vale of Glamorgan County Council, and also as a Dinas Powys Community Councillor since 1992.

Chris was born in Grangetown, Cardiff and grew up in the city, being educated at Fitzalan Comprehensive and UWIC.

Independent

Mathab Khan

Taxi driver, who resigned his membership of the Labour Party over foreign policy and joined the Liberal Democrats but has since resigned from them because of their coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster. He is chair of the Cardiff Hackney Cabs association.

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A faltering economy

GDP Growth

UK output increases by 0.5 per cent

Real GDP quarterly growth

Real GDP quarterly growth

Forget interest rate rises in the near future, that is the underlining message of the figures on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) just published.

The Bank of England cannot yet raise the interest rate despite inflation running at twice the government’s target at 4 per cent because the economy is still in a fragile state. So an interest rate rise is unlikely until November at the earliest.

Although the GDP increased by 0.5 per cent, growth was held back by construction suffering a sharp drop. Construction output decreased by 4.7 per cent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 2.3 per cent in the previous quarter. The state of the construction industry is an useful indicator of whether there is confidence in the economy.

Looking at the figures output in the UK economy has not improved for three straight quarters. This plateau shows that the economy has barely grown since September and is certainly lagging behind other leading economies.

On a more optimistic note manufacturing increased by 1.1 per cent compared with a similar increase of 1.1 per cent in the previous quarter. This tends to confirm the CBI’s industrial trends survey of 451 manufacturers published yesterday. Of the 451 manufacturers that responded to the survey, 36% said they had seen an increase in output in the last three months, while 15% said it had fallen, giving a rounded balance of +20%.’¨

However, despite these positive results the Monthly data from the survey showed 21% of manufacturers said that total order books were above normal, while 31% said that they were below. The resulting rounded balance of -11% is down on March (+5%). Which is again a worry that the bounce that we would expect in a recovering economy is just not there.

Overall the figures are mixed but significantly they are well below the Office of Budget Responsibility(OBR) prediction that the economy would grow by 0.8 per cent in the quarter.

This lacklustre performance of the economy raises serious concern whether the Government’s deficit busting austerity measures is the right cause for the economy.

Of all the parties fighting the Welsh general election Plaid Cymru’s economic policy would be the most relevant to dealing with these fragile economic figures.

Their much criticised proposal to raise money for their Build4Wales company to invest in hospitals, schools, housing and transport would seem to be the correct medicine to stimulate the economy.

For surely a classical Keynesian response to such low/no growth is exactly what the economic doctor should be prescribing. None of the other Welsh parties have come up with such radical medicine.

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A look at Cardiff North

The blog now moves to look at the interesting seats in the South Wales Central region. It moves to this area having ignored the seats in the South Wales West region predicting that there is unlikely to be any shock results in that region. This analysis is based on the polling information that the tide is running Labour’s way and are unlikely, therefore, to be worried by the challenge from the other main parties contesting the seats in the South West.

CARDIFF NORTH

2007 Assembly election results

Party

Votes Cast

Percentage

Morgan, Jonathan

Conservative

15,253

45.3

Howe, Sophie

Labour

10,409

30.9

Bridges, Ed

Liberal Democrat

4,287

12.7

Jones, Wyn

Plaid Cymru

2,491

7.4

Llewelyn, Dai

UKIP

1,262

3.7

Electorate 65,554 Turnout: 51.4%

Cardiff North is a mixture of rich areas and poor. In the leafy suburbs you have the old garden village of Rhiwbina, which was set up to house the ’˜artisan class,’ but has long since ceased to fulfill it’s original charitable objectives and now houses the professional and prosperous classes. Likewise Llanishen, and Whitchurch both of which would be seen as up market area of Cardiff. In contrast, there are less affluent areas such as Gabalfa and Llandaff North. These contain some very large Council estates.

Many of the voters are employed in the public sector; it has the greatest proportion of white-collar workers than any other constituency in the UK. The constituency has three hospitals .The University Hospital of Wales, which is Wales’s largest hospital, Whitchurch, which caters for those with mental illness and Felindre, which specializes in the treatment of cancer. It also has a large tax office and other government buildings

Political profile

Cardiff North was always regarded as a safe Tory seat. It and its predecessor seat Cardiff North West always returned Conservatives to Westminster. It fell to Labour in 1997 in the Blair landslide when Julie Morgan captured the Parliamentary seat. In 1999 Sue Essex for Labour won the seat in the Assembly election defeating Jonathan Morgan by a margin of 2,304 votes. She again repeated the act in 2003 but Morgan reduced her majority to 540.

Jonathan Morgan won the seat with what would seem to be a comfortable majority in 2007. But now faces Julie Morgan, as the Labour challenger. A re-run of the 2005 Westminster election when Julie Morgan was the successful Labour candidate and Jonathan Morgan was the loser on that occasion.

Both candidates have a track record of being diligent constituency members, and both in their different ways have a valuable contribution to make to the work of the Assembly. Both sides are campaigning hard as one would expect in such a marginal seat.

The prospect of cutbacks in public sector jobs will give Labour a marginal advantage in the seat but are dependent on getting their vote out. The Tories would seem to be the better organized. But her charismatic husband Rhodri, the ex-First Minister, is helping Julie Morgan; his presence always goes down well on the doorstep. However, whether this translates into votes in the box remains to be seen. The result is likely to be close. This is the type of seat that Carwyn Jones must win if he is to gain a majority.

Prediction: Labour gain

Candidates:

Labour

Julie Morgan

Julie Morgan was a former Labour Member of Parliament for Cardiff North. She held the seat from May 1997 until May 2010.

Born in Cardiff and educated at Dinas Powys Primary School and Howell’s School in Llandaff. She studied at King’s College, London, and Manchester University. She holds a postgraduate diploma in Social Administration (CQSW) from Cardiff University.

Employed as a social worker with Barry Social Services, and an Assistant Director of Barnardo’s. Councillor for South Glamorgan Council between 1985 and 1997 and was a Cardiff Councillor from 1995.

Conservative

Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan has been an Assembly Member since 1999 First serving for eight years as AM for South Wales Central and then was elected as Assembly Member for Cardiff North in May 2007.

He is a graduate of the University of Wales, Cardiff, where he gained a degree in Law and a Masters degree in European Policy. Before election to the assembly, Jonathan was European officer for Coleg Glan Hafren in Cardiff.

After serving as education spokesman during the first assembly term ’“ he was handed the health brief in 2003 he served as Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services for six years.

In 1997 he stood for Parliament in Merthyr Tydfil and was the Conservative Party’s candidate for Cardiff North at the 2005 General Election.

Liberal Democrat

Matt Smith

Matt Smith was born in Cardiff in 1988, and I was educated at Whitchurch High School and the University of Glamorgan. He currently works for a call centre in Central Cardiff.

He has lived within the constituency for about 15 years of his life.

Plaid Cymru

Ben Foday

Ben Foday is married with three daughters, and lives in Cardiff. He was born and educated in Sierra Leone but has lived in the Welsh capital for more than 30 years. Ben served as a Labour Councillor between 1993 and 1999 but has been a member of Plaid for several years. His professional career has been in working for an employment agency. A well-known local campaigner, Ben’s political interests include social justice and economic development.

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