Tuesday 4 November 2014

On the skids

Update 5 November

Something strange is happening in Ukip. Days after the party is understood to have selected a candidate to fight the Llanelli constituency and then dumped him within 24 hours, the Ukip Wales website has shut down.

The website was very largely a vehicle for Nathan Gill, the Ukip Mormon MEP who previously ran what has been described as a gangmaster business supplying migrant labour for care homes. Until a couple of days ago anyone wishing to find out more about Ukip in Wales would have been presented with numerous video clips of Nathan spouting forth about the evils of the EU, the free movement of labour in Europe and other Ukip hobby horses.

Now all you will find is this:

It appears to be rather more than just a technical hitch.


Supporters of the first past the post system have always argued that it brings stability, but next year's general election could well see it produce chaos.The safest bet at the moment would be another hung parliament, but FPTP becomes increasingly erratic the more the old two-party system breaks down, and we may yet see a party win an overall majority with a very low share of the vote, while others secure more votes but win hardly any seats.

One seat to watch is Llanelli, a Labour stronghold since 1922. The high water mark for Labour was the 1945 general election when the party secured a staggering 81% of the vote, and more recently Denzil Davies regularly secured huge majorities with close to 60% of the votes cast, even as the town's fortunes declined.

As in so many other parts of Wales, Llanelli has very little to show for 90 years of voting Labour.

The last time Labour won more than 50% of the votes was in 1997, and in 2010 Nia Griffith was down to 42.5%, with Plaid just 4,700 votes behind.

2010 was a bad year for Labour, thanks in large part to Gordon Brown who has now been miraculously rehabilitated by the media as the saviour of the Union, and under normal circumstances Nia would be on course to increase her majority and share of the vote next year, but times are anything but normal.

Labour is heading for wipeout in Scotland, and according to the latest YouGov poll Ed Miliband is even less popular with voters than Nick Clegg.

If being saddled with Eds Miliband and Balls is not bad enough, Nia Griffith has the additional misfortune of having Keith Davies as her Assembly stablemate and Kevin Madge in coalition with Meryl Gravell's "Independents" running the County Council. Plus, at a local level, a few truly dire Labour councillors, one or two of whom can only have been selected because they had a pulse and nobody else was available.

It's the sort of dream team which must give Nia Griffith nightmares, and she also finds her vote being squeezed by Plaid Cymru on the centre-left and Ukip on the right.

Plaid's candidate is Vaughan Williams, who is young, likeable and putting a great deal of hard work into winning over the voters. Even without the threat from Ukip, Labour would have its work cut out faced with internal turmoil and a strong candidate for a party which has a solid core vote, especially in the Gwendraeth Valley where Plaid has been picking up support from disenchanted Labour voters.

But Labour in Llanelli is also being assailed by Ukip, and the word on the street is that parts of the town are proving fertile ground for Farage's right-wing populism.

This despite the fact that Ukip does not yet even have a candidate for the seat.

Ukip is usually anything but media shy, but it has come over very coy indeed in response to reports that it selected a candidate for Llanelli last Saturday and then dumped their man the next day when it emerged that he had a more than usually colourful history for a Ukip front runner.

The LibDems haven't found a candidate so far either. Normally the party polls between three and four thousand votes, and most of those will be looking for a new home. Ken Rees, who stood back in 2005, is rumoured to have been flirting with Ukip.

Bearing in mind that Ken was elected on a LibDem ticket to Carmarthenshire County Council in 2008 and promptly got into bed with Meryl Gravell's Independent/Labour coalition, a switch to Ukip would not be such a big leap.

The Tories picked up around 5,000 votes in each of the last two general elections, and up to the 1990s they normally came in a rather distant second to Labour. Those days have long gone, and the party's selection of Selaine Saxby who runs an online bra business from her mansion in Wiltshire is unlikely to send a message to the people of Llanelli that Dave's Conservatives are seriously interested in them.

Analysing the threat from Ukip back in September, Labour List came up with a table of the 100 Labour seats most at risk from what it calls the Revolt on the Right. Llanelli was ranked 58th just a few short weeks ago, but events are moving very fast.

Nia Griffith, faced with the nightmarish prospect of seeing Labour's 93 year grip on Llanelli come to an end on her watch, has recently sent 10,000 letters to constituents in House of Commons envelopes inviting them along to surgeries.

There must be an election round the corner.


Anonymous said...

I won't be voting for Vaughan, he isn't local and he supports independence. While I have trouble voting labour Nia is hardworking and I have attended some of her surgeries since she was elected.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment. I don't know him personally but I do know this isn't a referendum on independence! 2015 is a General Election the debate for independence comes later I guess.

Equally, Nia was born in Dublin. Helen Mary Jones wasn't local that seems a bizarre comment.

Finally, Nia voted for the benefit cap which charities says has impacted worse on the poor. She also voted against the Recall of MPs, why? Could it be to do with her claiming food £400 a month even when parliament WASN'T sitting? She has voted WITH her party every time! 93 years of Labour what we got to show for it?

Cneifiwr said...

Vaughan Williams is not from Llanelli, true enough, but he lived and worked in the area before deciding to stand for parliament.

It would be pretty short-sighted to say that you can only become an MP if you were born and raised in the area you want to represent.

One of the key differences between Plaid and the rest is that Plaid MPs don't answer to someone in London. See what is happening to Labour in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I was only following your own logic Cneifiwr, I'm not a Tory voter by any means but you laid into Mathew Paul for being a 'London barrister'. He's more local to Carmarthen East than Vaughan is to Llanelli. I laughed out loud when I read Vaughan's selection statement when be boasted of his local credentials having worked in a school in Swansea area. To me that showed how much he doesn't understand Llanelli, if he thinks Swansea is local to us!
@ anon 07:14. if voting for Plaid is nothing to do with indy, then what's the point voting for them. I want it clear from Plaid that there will not be a call by them for a referendum in Wales if we vote for them in the GE. if not, I'm not voting for them. to quote Helen Mary as 'not local' is correct, she moved out of Trimsaran in Llanelli and was living in Cardiff way before the election in 2012. That's why many people decided not to vote for her, she was more interested in the Plaid leadership selection after the election that is why she was punished by the electorate. she wasn't local then, and she isn't local now. I am absolutely astounded that Plaid couldn't find anybody new or exciting to stand in Llanelli, and instead opted for a has been who has lost the seat twice in the past, and soon a third time.

Anonymous said...

Plaid answer to their paymasters in Cardiff, that's just as alien to me as London.

Anonymous said...

I agree with comment 1.

Regarding comment 2 it would be a shame to let a good story in the way of actual facts which are that she voted for the Recall of MPs bill and supports Labour amendments to strengthen it. What she voted againsr was Zac Goldsmith's amendment on the basis that what you cannot have is a situation where powerful vested interests could hound an MP out of office - which is what some of Zac's amendments would have allowed.

Regarding Welfare votes she:
Voted strongly against reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the "bedroom tax") Source
Voted very strongly for raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices Source Voted strongly for paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability Source
Voted very strongly against making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support.
Voted strongly against a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.
Voted very strongly for spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed

Regarding the very old chestnut of expenses going back to 2009, it is pretty apparent that the actual expenses claim system was flawed and needed reform and a total of 350 MPs had to repay including Elfyn Llwyd.

It is also agreed that Plaid's MPs do not answer to anybody in London but what is also true is that voting for a Plaid candidate means that the people of Wales will have virtually no voice at Westminster given their small representation there.

Ultimately, though, an MP's first duty is to answer to the people who elected them.

Anonymous said...

I live in Llanelli Town and I voted Plaid in 2011 but I will be voting for Nia Griffith in 2015 as I can't help feeling that a vote for Plaid in the GE is a wasted vote. I also have to say I can't help agreeing to a certain extent with 10.06 in as much as I also read the newspaper article which said the Plaid candidate was local to Llanelli because he taught in Swansea (I actually gagged when I read that) as I'm from Llanelli Town and Swansea is not local! I think it made him look a bit stupid and definitely an outsider.

Anonymous said...

What can you do though when your own M.P. isn't helping you when you need it, and there is a strict code that you can't go to anyone else? To clarify, I am not referring to any of the people who have been mentioned above.

Shaw said...

The UKIP account was suspended due to an overload of viewers.

Anonymous said...

Expenses claim system was flawed. Ah that makes it ok for Nia to claim £400 a week on food then? Wow! Who's Elfyn Llwyd? Is he standing in Llanelli?

This is the sort of Labour arrogance that we're tired of.

Anonymous said...

From the LlanelliStar website.

Annon 16:19

"I know the area well having taught in Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe. This truly is a special part of our nation.

"The people of Llanelli and the surrounding areas are the warmest people I have met.

Not sure where he says he was local. Does the word local appear? He knows the area well - teaching in Swansea its plausible to travel to Llanelli?! How dare the outsider then go on to compliment the people of Llanelli and beyond! Bloody outsiders!!

Anonymous said...

A great example of the parochialism that destroys Wales there anon 16.19. Llanelli has a massive chip on its shoulder and hates Carmarthen with a passion. They can't be trusted to make a mature dicision. 90 years of Labour and the town is rotting.

Anonymous said...

Good grief no wonder wales has a reputation for being narrow minded, parochial and blinkered if you lot are quibbling about how local is local, "he's taught in Swansea hes' not local, she lives in cardiff, she's not local, born in Dublin - foreigner!!! Sums up a lot of the Welsh really. We will always be a backwater with peope like you living here - clear off somewhere and let's get some dynamic people into the country which may also include polish, foreign and yes even English people.I'd much prefer people like that who make a contribution than a load of moaning whingers like you lot with no vision whatsoever hence leading to the state this country is in whatever your politics is its not working and regressive. Ymlan Llanelli!

Anonymous said...

By the way a vote for PC in Westminster is not a wasted vote, if you think that you clearly do not understand how things work in Westminster. And the fact of the matter is that the PC gruop in Westminster is one of the most respected group of parliamentarians there, you could ask any member of the Westminster personel to find that out. They punch way above their weight along wth the SNP. The other thing you should consider is that when no party has a big enough majority, the ruling party has to bargain for support, this has happend in the past, in the 90s over Mastricht and PC got good concessions out of the Tories which were beneficial to the west Walian populace. Bear that in mind for the 2015 election which will have a hung result, people wil be knocing on the smaller party doors offering deals. You can huff and puff but read Hansard and do your research and try to get an understanding of how politics works before making stupid assertions according to blind party allegiance and yes ignorance. You probably won't because most people are too lazy to do so - hence the high sale of the Mail and Sun.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance? Not taking any lessons from somebody who can't even spell!

Anonymous said...

Nia may seem hard working , but why is she in areas where rural councillors have donated from ward allowances and her in a photo with labour cllrs (potting shed Bryn oap complex ) she also ambushed a photo in star with cllrs outside Llwynehndy ward with the police station closures when it was arranged and a photo appeared with salmon and local cllr , labour always seem to dive in when there is a chance to make it look they have done the work , labour have had a hold on the llanelli seat far too long and don`t forget the older generation are dwindling now and more younger people are voting who do not believe in "my parents/grandparents voted labour so i will" hopefully labour will lose their seat and we can finally shake up our area and llanelli clp will lose its clout once and for all !!
More people need to vote for what THEY want not what their parentage voted for , I for one will not be voting for labour again , and neither will ukip have my vote after the farce where a reporter gets kicked out of a public MEETING and they unselect their candidate , now they have noone selected yet they are trying to get many councillors to stand in desperation aslong as they have no history or are in monogamous relationships etc etc . so it seems i will for the first time in history of 38 years be voting plaid !

Anonymous said...

judging by the criticism of the plaid candidate ie he not being 'local' enough' it would appear that edward and tubbs - yes they of royston vasey infamy - have taken up residence in beautiful sospan.

if that really is the best welsh labour supporters can come up with as a reason not to vote for vaughan williams then labour in llanelli are clearly in serious trouble

Anonymous said...

I suspect 00.34 might be a certain councillor from that ward, lol
Do I detect hard cheese? As for voting Plaid .... not sure they will want you!

Anonymous said...

I will be voting for Vaughan. Having met him when his team were canvassing in our area, he will make a great MP for Llanelli. We have had Labour for 93 years, our town centre is rated as the worst in Wales and second worst in the U.K, our hospital has been downgraded and Labour will also carry on with Tory austerity cuts after the next election! Llanelli deserves so much better.

Anonymous said...

Certain councillor ? @17:00
plaid want ? anyone can vote for ANYONE/ANY party , just because you vote does not mean you are joining a party !

Anonymous said...

To Anon, 6 November 2014 15:55 I may not be able to spell due to typing to quickly and maybe being dyslexic but hell i do have a good understainding of politics