Friday, 8 May 2015

Fallout

As the dust settles on the election, here are one or two snippets which may be of interest.

Llanelli

Elections can be rough justice, and commiserations go to Vaughan Williams who worked incredibly hard. He ran a positive campaign while Labour fought dirty. At one hustings a gaggle of trolls shouted down anyone who was not Nia Griffith, and there were some extremely nasty attempts at smearing opponents - tactics which are routine for Labour in Llanelli.

Anyone who stayed up for the count last night would have seen Mark James reading out the result in very halting Welsh (he's only had 14 years to learn), a task for which he is very handsomely paid as Returning Officer.

Shortly afterwards a line formed of people hoping to speak to Nia, including a reporter from the Llanelli/Carmarthenshire Herald. Before the poor dab could say anything, the Returning Officer allegedly intervened to advise the victorious Labour MP that she should not speak to him because "he's from the Herald".

Let's be generous and assume that this was just an example of Mr James's famous sense of humour, although it's a safe bet that the Heralds are not part of his favourite bedtime reading.

Indeed, reports are reaching Cneifiwr that the council is resorting to the time honoured tradition of blacklisting newspapers which upset it, with orders going out to "partner" organisations to withdraw advertising from the new titles.

Ammanford

How long ago it now seems since Labour launched its national campaign in Wales in Ammanford. The party had high hopes back then of taking the seat from Plaid, and Ammanford received wave after wave of visits from Labour's top brass, including Ed Balls (remember him?), several of them beating a path to a very excited South Wales Guardian. 

A week before polling day, Labour realised the game was up, and Ed Miliband told a senior press source in an off the record briefing that campaign resources were being switched to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire where it was felt that prospects were better. Labour failed there as well.

Jonathan Edwards has become the first Plaid Cymru MP in the history of Carmarthenshire to hold the constituency in an election when the Tories have been in power, and he also increased his majority from 3,481 to 5,599. Labour's share of the vote fell by 2.3%.

Calum Higgins deserves praise for running a generally positive campaign and for putting more work into it than any of his recent predecessors, and yet Labour concentrated almost all its efforts on the urbanised parts of the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys, as Lisa Childs notes here in a very well written piece about the election in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

Calum's two biggest problems were being shackled to a dull and uninspiring national Labour campaign fronted by Owen Smith, that dull and inspiring man in a grey suit, and the track record of the Labour-run County Council of which he is currently a member. The main messages boiled down to  "vote for us to stop the other lot getting in", and saying NHS a lot.

Ahead of polling day, Owen Smith boasted to the press that he had "never seen a campaign fought with such passion".

That is surely the first time the words "Owen Smith" and "passion" have every appeared in the same sentence.

It was not only that Labour offered no hope and no vision, but even its core message did not ring true with the voters it was hoping to win over.

The problem with saying that the NHS is the best health service in the world and rejecting all criticism of it, as Smith did, is that very large numbers of people in Wales know that it is not always as good as 'Welsh' Labour likes to claim. It can be excellent, it can be quite good, it can be mediocre and it can be truly appalling, with operations being repeatedly cancelled, growing waiting lists, sometimes very poor care, too many serious clinical errors and food you would not serve your pet cat.

The truth is that what you experience from the NHS in Wales is becoming more and more of a lottery.

One person, one vote

As the long-winded battle gets underway to anoint a successor to Ed Miliband, it seems that a rather speedier change of personnel may be about to take place in Carmarthenshire, where Kevin Madge is said to be facing a challenge from Anthony Jones and Jeff Edmunds.

Miliband's successor will be chosen by a combination of Labour's parliamentarians, rank and file members and union bigwigs.

If things were not already bad enough for Labour in Carmarthenshire, someone should gently break it to rank and file members in the county that their next leader will in reality be chosen by Meryl Gravell, the de facto leader of their Independent coalition partners.

It is understood that Meryl will not entertain Llanelli Labour's choice at any price.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very nice piece.

I'm sure Callum is a good chap but given he was a PPC he should have unshackled himself from the Labour group at County Hall and tried to stir things up. I doubt very much that he could have ever been disciplined as Imbe
Wife the behaviour of the Labour Group on the council could never described as even mildly socialist or progressive.

Calum could have made a name for himself and he missed a huge trick.

As regards your comments about dodgy behaviour by Labour supporters this is part of the cut and thrust of politics I'm afraid and there is no group more adept at this sort of think that Plaid.

Personally I never had canvassers at home, never saw anybody in Carmarthen during the campaign and I believe that the Party for me ran such a lack lustre campaign they deserved to lose. I was actually relishing someone calling with me as I wanted to ask about unlawfull payments etc.

Any body with aspirations onwards national politics must realise that what happens localy matters - in terms of Socialism I truly believe that the local Labour Party did Callum and Delyth absolutely no favours at all.

Vaughan Williams said...

Cneifiwr thanks for your support. I'm gutted at the result, totally gutted. We did all we could and more yet lost votes - now that's hard to take.

I'd like to thank the team. What an effort. I'd like to thank the people of Llanelli too. We've been on a hell of a journey.

As I said from the stage at the count...

"The dragon did indeed roar in Llanelli. The nation's heart beats strong. We have a long road ahead - we're dented on defeated. Our dream will indeed never die.
We have the spirit of Gwynfor and Grav.
Forward Llanelli. Forward Wales!"

Cneifiwr said...

Diolch i ti Vaughan. Daw eto haul ar fryn.

Cneifiwr said...

Diolch i ti Vaughan. Daw eto haul ar fryn.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic write up. Sheer hard work and committment won this election and the result shows it.
There were very few actual voters at the hustings - this is just a load of sour grapes. Be nice to see at least an acknowledgement of a well run campaign even if you don't like the colour of the party.

Gaynor Jones said...

Personally I think Callum is a good and intelligent bloke but if he wont' stand up for the taxpayers and challenge the wrongdoings of the Labour -Tory group on CCC, he loses his street cred and integrity and would not garner any votes. To be fair he couldn't challenge Jonathan anyway - with his track record. Sa ar dy drawd Callum yn y cyngor a heria yr hen drefn llwgr yn y Cyngor Sir. You serve the people as councillor no the county officers and personal gain

Anonymous said...

So much for free speech - are comments only allowed if they're not 100% Plaid Cymru brown nosing?

My comment I submitted which wasn't approved said that Vaughan Williams's post defeat remarks sound like clich├ęd drivel:

...going "forward"...on a "journey"...the dragon roared...the "heart beats strong"..."long road ahead"..."our dream will never die"...

Maybe it was my request for somebody to pass me the sick bag that met the editor's disapproval?

Let me make it clear: Plaid Cymru could and should have taken Llanelli from Labour, and I think Adam Price could have managed it.

If this comment doesn't get approved then I give up on this bloody blog I really do.