Archive for April, 2012

What will happen in your county

Thursday is voting day throughout Wales to choose councillors. Well, everywhere but Ynys Mon, they’ve been naughty children and are in detention for another year.

For you dear, readers a chart with my predictions. But of course your votes can change my forecasts. 

As you will see from the table some interesting contests, but a great deal of predictability.

The big question of the night will be whether Labour make sufficient gains to take the pressure of Ed Miliband.

My guess is that the polls will be reflected on the night and Ed will be crowing over a major victory.

The other interest is whether the election of Leanne Wood has helped Plaid Cymru gain seats especially in the Labour’s heartland. Plaid have been playing down a Leanne Wood effect, “its too early” is their view. Hmmm.

The other question that Thursday night and Friday morning will determine is  whether Labour  will make sufficient gains to control the Welsh Local Government Association. The polls now would suggest that they will.

Incidentally filming the rest of the week so no blog. A relief to many I’m sure.


Postscript
Since posting this blog YouGov have published a poll that shows:

48% Labour (21% up on 2008)

17% Conservatives (1% up on 2008)

14% Plaid Cymru ( 3% down on 2008)

7% Liberal Democrats (6% down on 2008)

15% Independents (13% down on 2008)

It clearly shows Labour doing very much better than last time but will it change the synopsis below? Not greatly. 

What was prepared assumed a Labour lead in the polls and a slump in support for the Liberal Democrats. 

It is dangerous to take a poll and apply it directly to a given local area. Local campaigning can make a difference. Be assured Liberal Democrat councillors are local campaigners par excellent and their work will mitigate some of the poll’s predictions. 

So no change to my predictions below.


County

Current Position

Comment

Blaenau Gwent

Independent/Labour

Ind – 24

Lab – 16

Other – 2

Labour will be hope to win control after gaining both the Parliamentary and Assembly seat from independents. There was a spasm in the constituency over the all women short list which saw many Labour members leave the party, the loss of seats in Parliament and the Assembly. In 2008  the disaffected also won control of the council. Now the voters will likely return to  the fold and Labour will be back in charge.

Bridgend

Labour

Lab – 27

Ind – 11

Con – 6

Lib Dem – 6

Democratic Independent – 3

Plaid – 1

Labour lost control in 2008 but won it back after a few by-elections. They’ll likely keep control after Thursday, mainly at Lib Dems expense.

Caerphilly

Plaid/Ind

Plaid – 32

Lab – 29

Ind – 5

Islwyn First – 3

Minority Independent – 3

Always a fight between Plaid and Labour here. Plaid Cymru are currently in control with the help of independents, even if Plaid don’t lose a seat Labour are likely to win seats from independents to gain control. There is little sign of a Leanne Wood bounce in the county. 

Cardiff

Lib Dem/Plaid

Lib Dem – 34

Lab – 14

Con – 16

Plaid – 6

Ind – 5

Labour are likely to leap frog from third to first place amongst the parties but are unlikely to have an overall majority. The question is can they do a deal to gain control? Their natural allies would be PC but personality clashes might prevent a deal being done.

Carmarthenshire

Ind/Lab

Plaid – 32

Ind – 29

Lab – 11

People First – 2

Other – 2

The old coalfield area of the county should see Labour gain some more seats. Plaid would hope to gain some seats from the independents especially in the west of the county where they’re well organised. No change to the county’s control is what I predict. Labour will continue to prop the independents to keep control away from Plaid

Ceredigion

Ind/Lib Dem/Lab

Plaid – 20

Ind – 11

Lib Dem – 9

Lab – 1

Non-party Independent – 1

Plaid again will seek overall control but will have a struggle as many parts of the county are wedded to independents. Plaid’s hope rests on the national polls being reflected here and the Lib Dems losing seats, The other two parties scarcely get a look in and this election will not change that.

Conwy

Plaid/Lab

Con – 18

Ind – 15

Plaid – 14

Lab – 7

Lib Dem – 5

The council will remain hung. Although the Conservatives  will likely win some seats mainly from independents there won’t be any substantial movement to any party here.

Denbighshire

Multi-party

Con – 18

Ind – 10

Ind First – 3

Ind (Welsh Liberal Democrat) – 1

Lab – 7

Plaid – 8

Another county that will remain much the same. There will be changes but based on local personalities rather than party.

Flintshire

Con/Ind/Lib Dem

Ind – 24

Lab – 21

Lib Dem – 13

Con – 9

Plaid – 1

Unaffiliated – 2

Labour will want to regain control of this council and with the current way the party is riding in the polls is likely so to do if Lib Dems have the melt down the polls are predicting.

Gwynedd

Plaid

Plaid – 39

Ind – 14

Llais Gwynedd – 10

Lib Dem – 4

Individual member – 2

Lab – 4

Gwynedd will remain the jewel in Plaid Cymru’s local government crown. The threat from Llais Gwynedd has been seen off so an overall majority is assured.

Merthyr Tydfil

Independent

Ind -13

Lab – 10

Lib Dem – 4

Merthyr Independents – 3

Labour lost control last time but on paper should win control back this time. But Merthyr has over the years been very idiosyncratic and who knows might defy prediction this time. But unlikely.

Monmouthshire

Conservative

Con – 26

Lab – 7

PC/Ind – 6

Lib Dem – 4

Conservatives will keep the county, the best the other parties can hope for is to dent the majority.

Neath Port Talbot

Labour

Lab – 39

Plaid – 11

Ind – 6

Lib Dem – 3

Social Democrat – 3

NPT Independent Party – 2

Last time this was one of the two counties that Labour held overall control of and will remain the same Labour fiefdom this time. Maybe PC might make some gains but unlikely to change the natural order of things in the county.

Newport

Conservative/Lib Dem

Lab – 20

Con – 17

Lib Dem – 9

Ind – 2

The coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Democrats will be out and Labour will take over control once more.

Pembrokeshire

Independent

Ind – 39

Con – 5

Lab – 4

Plaid – 5

Lib Dem – 1

Independent rule. The other four parties have begun to introduce party politics to the county but they will not upset the natural state of affairs here.

Powys

Independent

Powys Independent Alliance – 31

The Shires Independent Group -13

Lib Dem – 13

Con – 10

Lab – 5

Plaid – 1

It is a question of which independent group will run the county. 

Rhondda Cynon Taf

Labour

Lab – 48

Plaid – 18

Ind – 5

Lib Dem – 3

Con – 1

The question is whether there will be any Leanne Wood bounce in this her home county. The omens are not good. Labour should remain firmly in control.

Swansea

Swansea Administration

Swansea Administration – 35

Lab – 25

Non Aligned – 1

Communities of Swansea – 3

Labour start with the advantage of being the largest party and are likely to gain ground. The chances are that they’ll do enough to gain control of the county.

Torfaen

Labour minority controlled

Lab – 21

Ind – 15

Con – 5

Plaid – 2

Lib Dem – 1

Last time the voters backed any party as long as it wasn’t Labour. This time they’ll return to Labour and Labour control. 

Vale of Glamorgan

Conservative

Con – 25

Lab – 12

Plaid – 6

Ind – 4

Labour will make gains whether or not they’ll gain sufficient to get overall control is the question. The PM has visited. My feel is that it will take more than a Prime Ministerial visit to stop Labour gaining here.

Wrexham

All-party coalition

Lib Dem – 11

Lab -12

Democrat Independents – 7

Wrexham Independents – 8

Con – 5

Ind – 4

Plaid – 3

Non Aligned – 1

The Liberal Democrats are currently in the driving seat with the help of others. Labour as the largest party will hope to make sufficient gains to wrestle control back. It will be close. 

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Night on the town

The Welsh Assembly’s standards watchdog  are to investigate the Llanelli AM Keith Davies’s behaviour in the 5 star St David’s hotel after a night out. 

This is not the first and probably won’t be the last time a politician is in trouble because of booze. Politics, late night and drink seem to go together. After all it’s said that Churchill won the war on brandy and of course the behaviour of George Brown whilst Foreign Secretary was the subject of much hilarity.

It is alleged that an altercation took place involving Mr Davies which resulted in the hotel contacting the Assembly Commission to express concerns about his behaviour. 

The reason the Commission was contacted is because the Assembly pay for the stay of out of town AM’s at the five-star St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay.  Quite why we the taxpayers are paying for 5 star hotels for politicians is, of course another matter.

Whilst Mr Davies’s behaviour in the hotel may be of concern to the Assembly authorities it is another aspect of the evening that should cause us all greater worry.

According to the BBC web site the incident happened after ‘He had earlier joined other AMs and political figures for dinner and drinks to celebrate the birthday of a political lobbyist.’

Now apart from Mr Davies who were ”the other AMs and political figures.” Surely such gatherings ought to be a matter of public record. 

This is another example of the cosy relationship between politicians and lobbyists. These events are part of the tools that the Lobby industry use to access and influence politicians. 

Without doubt this was a very pleasant social occasion and nothing as sordid as business will have interfered with the enjoyment of the night. But we would be very naive to think that such events are harmless. 

Lobbyist’s use these ‘social’ events to build their networks of contacts. Once the network is established access and influence follow just as night follows day. Anthropologist’s have a term for it ‘the reciprocal gift relationship’ In the valleys it’s described as ‘you scratch my back…’

Perhaps it’s this that the Assembly Commission should be looking into, not if an AM has had one over the eight.

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Double dip

It’s official the economy is back in recession. The Office for National Statistics said that in the first three months of 2012 out put had fallen. To be precise it shrank by 0.2%.

Not only did the economy shrink in this quarter but follows contraction of 0.3% in the last three months of 2011. This means that economy has suffered a double dip recession which means it has shrunk over two consecutive quarters.

Clearly the economy is  still in a very weak state and the government’s economic programme is not producing growth. 

The economy has been flat lining for some considerable time and the politicians have only one mantra ‘austerity.’  

It is the same blinkered approach that made the great depression of the 20th century last so unnecessarily long. Indeed it’s a little known fact that the UK economy has performed even worse since the current financial crisis than in the so called ‘great depression.’

The fact is that coalition’s government has failed in its attempts to produce growth. But the truth is that the official opposition haven’t really got any real answers either. Their approach is ‘austerity light.’ The same cuts but over a longer period. Not a radical approach.

What is required is a complete reversal of the cuts agenda until the economy shows signs of strong sustained growth. It should also reconsider its approach to benefits. What’s the sense in cutting the income of the poor, when these are the very groups who spend every penny they receive. Benefits should be increased to boost demand in the economy.

A programme of public works ought to be launched to strengthen the country’s infrastructure. 

Wales should have the powers to deal with its own economy. The work of the Silk Commission should be fast tracked so that such powers are granted to the Assembly sooner rather than later.

The latest unemployment figures show that Wales’s economy is certainly in the doldrums.  Currently, the Assembly has only limited scope to do anything to improve the situation. Change is required. And soon.

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