Wednesday 6 June 2012

The Queen and the County Council Elections - oh, and the Torch

Just over a week ago the National Assembly held a special 'debate' to congratulate the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. The only slight frisson of excitement about this otherwise dull event was speculation about how the Plaid leader, Leanne Wood, would handle it.

Leanne has never made any secret of her views, and would like to see the monarchy in Wales replaced one day by an elected head of state.

In the event, she gave a carefully balanced speech, as you can see from this Western Mail piece here.

Rather odder is a claim buried deep in the article that "some in Plaid" believed that Leanne's non-attendance at a Jubilee service held in Llandaff Cathedral had cost Plaid Cymru seats in the Carmarthenshire county council elections.

The unexpected reference to Carmarthenshire in the middle of the report becomes more bizarre the more you think about it.

In the county council elections Plaid performed extremely well in Carmarthen, held its ground in the Amman Valley and took a drubbing only in the notoriously Royalist stronghold of Llanelli (well, it still has a Prince Philip Hospital, doesn't it?).

Local press coverage of the elections could be described as patchy at best, but nowhere was there any mention of the future of the monarchy being a question which had voters challenging candidates. No letters appeared in the Llanelli Star, Carmarthen Journal or any other title accusing Peter Hughes Griffiths of wanting to send the Windsors packing. Nowhere on Twitter or Facebook was there any debate about the monarchy in the context of the council elections.

Since the National Assembly debate, the concerned monarchist citizens of Carmarthenshire have had every opportunity to put up bunting and portraits of the Windsors and hold street parties. The BBC did its best over four days to whip Wales into a frenzy, and Tesco and other big corporates joined in by decking out their stores to make them look like BNP conventions.

As the tumbleweed blew down the empty streets of the towns and villages of Carmarthenshire, the Western Mail's monarchists kept a very low profile. There was no dancing in the streets, and bunting salesmen had a very lean time of it.

In Cneifiwr's neck of the woods only a couple of villages over the border in Ceredigion showed any signs of making any effort. Llechryd had a Union Jack draped under the village sign, and the village hall was decked out in red, white and blue bunting (not a single Red Dragon). In Rhydlewis the county's "What's On" guide listed no fewer than 5 Jubilee events. Perhaps that is part of the lingering legacy of Caradoc Evans.

Otherwise a visiting Martian would have not spotted any difference from any other wet weekend.

The Western Mail snippet remains a mystery, and no doubt it will be tripping up PhD students 100 years from now as they take their cue from it and research the Great Carmarthenshire Republican Row of 2012.

While we are on the subject of mysteries, a few words on the Olympic Torch Relay which recently passed through Cardigan.

Cneifiwr's youngest wanted to go and watch, and not wanting to deprive him for the sake of political principle, Dad duly obliged, albeit with gritted teeth.

The relay started near the Livestock Market, crossed the river, went up the High Street and ended at what is known as the 'Tesco Junction'. Cneifiwr and Junior opted for the Tesco end, and had no problems parking or finding a roadside place. In fact only a short stretch down around the Catholic Church and Rugby Club appeared to have attracted crowds.

Lots of police vans turned up, and after a short while a squadron of police motorcycles came past. Half of the riders were wearing Metropolitan Police jackets.

The Dyfed Powys boys were very friendly, and a couple of the riders stopped to chat with some of the onlookers. A few feet down from Cneifiwr was a very ancient Mam-gu waving her Draig Goch at the cops. The Welsh boys waved back, and she started calling out 'Helo, Shwmae - Shwd ┼Ěch chi?'

The boys from the Met stared back, assessing the terrorist threat.

Eventually a convoy of shiny buses and cars drove past, including a Coca Cola lorry and a Lloyds Bank bus.
The Olympic bus had a huge screen built into the side, showing what seemed to be a cartoon, and a Cockney voice on a loud haler tried to incite the sparse crowd to cheer.

More police outriders and men in grey shorts and shirts surrounded the 'runner', an elderly and rather large lady who staggered and tottered up the gentle hill.

"Stand back! Stand back!" we were ordered, and the whole thing came to a halt.

By this time a small crowd had gathered, and the security men took up position, hands over their genitals like footballers defending a penalty, as the flame was transferred to a small lantern to go back on the bus.

This strange ceremony took about 5 minutes, and one of the security types was holding a spare torch that nobody was allowed to touch.

With that, the lantern disappeared onto the bus, followed by the officials. The door closed and the convoy roared off.

The whole event had lasted about 20 minutes.

Perhaps there is a sad sub-species of trainspotter specialising in police vehicles, in which case, they would have been thrilled. As for the rest of us, Cneifiwr Junior summed it up as he asked, "Was that it?"


Anonymous said...

My local councillor seems to have a list of people that didn't vote, I wonder how that happened??

Anonymous said...

It's perfectly normal for parties and candidates to get lists of who voted and who didn't. It's called the marked register and is available from the local council for a few quid.

Welsh not British said...

My daughters school had a tea party and her teacher told her that the Queen does a lot for us and cares for us all.

She is four years old, she should not be brainwashed by her teachers like this.

Anonymous said...

<<< actually, what looked like a list was actually seen in a councillor's possession was 'visible' on election day on a clipboard.. quite odd. could swear it was a list of those who hadn't voted or hadn't yet voted >>>>

Anonymous said...

Miss woods has lost the plot , and i think plaid has lost a lot of votes i am Welsh but i am also Britishyou only have to look at the number of people that turned out for the torch in Carmarthen and all the parties for the jubilee

Anonymous said...

Also brainwashing or bringing politics into primary school education is when the governors of Welsh Medium Primary school prevent children celebrating Diamond Jubilee and ban parties or showing the Union Flag on School premises Children will never see another Diamond Jubilee and the entire Welsh Nation including a lot of Plaid voters were behind Liz Windsor . Leanne Wood is wrong!!!

Cneifiwr said...

Hold on a minute - Leanne Wood has not banned any parties or Jubilee celebrations.

The entire Welsh nation was not behind the celebrations, as was abundantly clear in many parts of Wales where there were next to no events.

Opinions are divided, and for many getting children to wave Union Jacks and celebrate a distant and alien institution is brain washing.

The best solution was the one we got - you celebrate if you want to, but don't make it compulsory.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... a bit like Welsh medium primary education then - you have it if you want to, but don't make it compulsory?

Tessa said...

A funny post, esp. re the Torch! I was amazed at the size of the convoy - all doing their best, (cops included!), and succeeding mostly, to get cheers and a level of excitement from the crowd. I felt a complete arse (as in myself, not someone elses)cheering, then expressing dissappointment that the torch had gone out, at a young man in white carrying an unlit torch - but it turned out he was the next one due to carry it out of my town. But no-one explained this to the crowd. So by the time the actual torch bearer ran through, I and others among the crowd were pretty much "spent", and I was (methaphorically speaking)puffing on my post coital fag.

Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

Spent Monday and Tuesday at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Caernarfon. Was there a Jubilee?

Cai Larsen said...

Anon - <<< actually, what looked like a list was actually seen in a councillor's possession was 'visible' on election day on a clipboard.. quite odd. could swear it was a list of those who hadn't voted or hadn't yet voted >>>>

There's no huge mystery here. Political parties routinely keep tabs of who's voted in order to check that their supporters have voted so they can chase them up if they haven't.

All parties do it.